Immigration and Refugees

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Immigration and refugee policy are among the most contested issues in Australian political debate. This year’s Poll sought to understand better the contours of Australian public opinion on asylum seeker policy and attitudes to the immigration intake.

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Immigration and Refugees

RATE OF IMMIGRATION

While a majority of Australians are positive about the benefits of immigration, the current rates of immigration are more controversial. The number who are supportive of the rate of immigration — those who think it should be maintained or even increased — has fallen since 2014. In 2017, 53% of the population say the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is either ‘about right’ or ‘too low’. While still a majority, this is down eight points since 2014 when we last asked this question. Four in ten Australians (40%) this year say ‘the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year’ is ‘too high’.

Although some Australians may oppose lifting the rate of immigration, our 2016 Poll found that attitudes towards immigration are roundly positive. Most Australians (73%) agreed that ‘overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy of Australia’, while majorities (72%) agreed that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’ and that ‘immigrants strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents’.

ASYLUM SEEKERS

Australians have expressed significant levels of concern about asylum seekers in our past polling, and the majority have been supportive of offshore processing of refugee claims in places such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru. This year, we asked Australians whether asylum seekers who have been determined to be refugees ‘should be settled in Australia’ or ‘should never be settled in Australia’.

Australians are almost evenly divided on the question of where asylum seekers should be settled: 48% say asylum seekers currently in refugee processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island ‘should never be settled in Australia’, while 45% say they ‘should be settled in Australia’. Younger Australians (18–29 year olds) are the only age group in which a majority (56%) say the asylum seekers ‘should be settled in Australia’. More men (53%) than women (43%) oppose settling asylum seekers in Australia.

In the context of heated debate about offshore processing, Australians’ support for continuing to process refugees’ claims offshore in places such as Nauru has waned somewhat. In a short poll we conducted in June 2016, 54% of Australians agreed that ‘asylum seekers should be processed offshore in places such as Nauru, before deciding whether they should be settled in Australia’, down five points since 2014. A sizeable 42% disagreed.

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Rate of Immigration

Thinking now about Australia’s immigration program. Do you personally think that the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high, too low, or about right?


  • HOW TO USE
    • Hover cursor over chart segments to view data. Click responses in the legend to switch individual results on and off.

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Immigration and Refugees

RATE OF IMMIGRATION

While a majority of Australians are positive about the benefits of immigration, the current rates of immigration are more controversial. The number who are supportive of the rate of immigration — those who think it should be maintained or even increased — has fallen since 2014. In 2017, 53% of the population say the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is either ‘about right’ or ‘too low’. While still a majority, this is down eight points since 2014 when we last asked this question. Four in ten Australians (40%) this year say ‘the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year’ is ‘too high’.

Although some Australians may oppose lifting the rate of immigration, our 2016 Poll found that attitudes towards immigration are roundly positive. Most Australians (73%) agreed that ‘overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy of Australia’, while majorities (72%) agreed that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’ and that ‘immigrants strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents’.

ASYLUM SEEKERS

Australians have expressed significant levels of concern about asylum seekers in our past polling, and the majority have been supportive of offshore processing of refugee claims in places such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru. This year, we asked Australians whether asylum seekers who have been determined to be refugees ‘should be settled in Australia’ or ‘should never be settled in Australia’.

Australians are almost evenly divided on the question of where asylum seekers should be settled: 48% say asylum seekers currently in refugee processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island ‘should never be settled in Australia’, while 45% say they ‘should be settled in Australia’. Younger Australians (18–29 year olds) are the only age group in which a majority (56%) say the asylum seekers ‘should be settled in Australia’. More men (53%) than women (43%) oppose settling asylum seekers in Australia.

In the context of heated debate about offshore processing, Australians’ support for continuing to process refugees’ claims offshore in places such as Nauru has waned somewhat. In a short poll we conducted in June 2016, 54% of Australians agreed that ‘asylum seekers should be processed offshore in places such as Nauru, before deciding whether they should be settled in Australia’, down five points since 2014. A sizeable 42% disagreed.

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Asylum Seekers

And now about asylum seekers currently in Nauru and Manus Island detention centres. For those asylum seekers who have been determined to be refugees, please say which one of the following statements most closely represents your own view:


  • HOW TO USE
    • Click segment of chart to isolate data