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 surveyed attitudes to the immigration intake and the role of immigration in our national identity.

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Immigration and Refugees

RATE OF IMMIGRATION

For the first time, the Lowy Institute Poll has found that a majority of Australians oppose the current rate of immigration to Australia. In 2018, 54% of Australians say that ‘the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high’. A minority (44%), say it is either ‘about right’ (30%) or ‘too low’ (14%). These results represent a significant rise in opposition to the existing migration rate – up 14 points since last year, and up 17 points since we first asked this question in 2014.

Australians have been generally positive about the benefits of immigration in the past. In 2016, almost three quarters of Australians agreed that ‘overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy’, and that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’. 

In 2018, attitudes appear to have shifted. While they may remain positive about the contribution of migrants, Australians are expressing unease about immigration rates.

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY

Australians also appear to be questioning the impact of immigration on the national identity. A majority (54%) say ‘Australia’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation’. However, a substantial minority (41%), say ‘if Australia is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation’. Attitudes vary according to age: 66% of younger Australians aged 18–44 say Australia’s openness is essential, compared with only 41% of those over 45.  

Australians are more divided on this question than Americans, who responded to the same question in late 2017 with only 29% saying that ‘if America is too open … we risk losing our identity as a nation’.

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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

For the first time, the Lowy Institute Poll has found that a majority of Australians oppose the current rate of immigration to Australia. In 2018, 54% of Australians say that ‘the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high’. A minority (44%), say it is either ‘about right’ (30%) or ‘too low’ (14%). These results represent a significant rise in opposition to the existing migration rate – up 14 points since last year, and up 17 points since we first asked this question in 2014.

Australians have been generally positive about the benefits of immigration in the past. In 2016, almost three quarters of Australians agreed that ‘overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy’, and that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’. 

In 2018, attitudes appear to have shifted. While they may remain positive about the contribution of migrants, Australians are expressing unease about immigration rates.

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY

Australians also appear to be questioning the impact of immigration on the national identity. A majority (54%) say ‘Australia’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation’. However, a substantial minority (41%), say ‘if Australia is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation’. Attitudes vary according to age: 66% of younger Australians aged 18–44 say Australia’s openness is essential, compared with only 41% of those over 45.  

Australians are more divided on this question than Americans, who responded to the same question in late 2017 with only 29% saying that ‘if America is too open … we risk losing our identity as a nation’.

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Immigration and national identity

Next, just tell me whether the first statement or the second statement comes closer to your own views:


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

close

Immigration and Refugees

RATE OF IMMIGRATION

For the first time, the Lowy Institute Poll has found that a majority of Australians oppose the current rate of immigration to Australia. In 2018, 54% of Australians say that ‘the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high’. A minority (44%), say it is either ‘about right’ (30%) or ‘too low’ (14%). These results represent a significant rise in opposition to the existing migration rate – up 14 points since last year, and up 17 points since we first asked this question in 2014.

Australians have been generally positive about the benefits of immigration in the past. In 2016, almost three quarters of Australians agreed that ‘overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy’, and that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’. 

In 2018, attitudes appear to have shifted. While they may remain positive about the contribution of migrants, Australians are expressing unease about immigration rates.

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY

Australians also appear to be questioning the impact of immigration on the national identity. A majority (54%) say ‘Australia’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation’. However, a substantial minority (41%), say ‘if Australia is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation’. Attitudes vary according to age: 66% of younger Australians aged 18–44 say Australia’s openness is essential, compared with only 41% of those over 45.  

Australians are more divided on this question than Americans, who responded to the same question in late 2017 with only 29% saying that ‘if America is too open … we risk losing our identity as a nation’.

close

2016: Immigration

Please say whether you personally agree or disagree with the each of the following statements about immigration:


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