ANU Poll, March 2015 (Report No. 18, April 2015) was a comprehensive survey of some 40 questions on national identity, which included three questions on immigration, one of which had five sub-questions. An open-ended question asked respondents to indicate the 'most important problem facing Australia today'. In coding responses it seems that those nominating asylum issues were coded under immigration, an issue which was ranked third, although selected by just 10% of respondents, the same level as in the previous ANU Poll conducted in January 2015, down five points since January 2014 and ten points since its peak in July 2011.
Asked for views on the current immigration intake, 27% favoured an increase in immigrants by 'a lot' or 'a little', 42% that the intake 'remain the same', a total of 69% favouring current levels or increase; 13% indicating 'reduce a little', 15% 'reduce a lot', a combined 28% favouring reduction.
A third question asked for views on the impact of immigration on Australian society, with specific reference to crime, the economy, jobs, ideas, and culture. A substantial majority (above 65%) gave a response favourable to immigration: 86% agreed that 'immigrant improve society by bringing new ideas and cultures', 83% that 'immigrants are generally good for Australia's economy'. In response to statements indicating a negative impact of immigration, 68% disagreed with the view that 'immigrants take jobs away from people who were born in Australia', 67% disagreed that 'immigrants increase crime rates', and 66% disagreed that 'Australia's culture is generally undermined by immigrants'.
Essential Report, 2 September 2014 asked 'When a family applies to migrate to Australia, should it be possible for them to be rejected purely on the basis of their religion?' Close to one in five (21%) respondents agreed, three in five (63%) disagreed, and a relatively high proportion (17%) did not know. 27% of Liberal/National supporters agreed, 16% Labor and 9% Greens. There were no significant differences when results were analysed by age and gender. These results were similar to those obtained in 2011.
Newspoll for The Australian, 16 July 2014, asked respondents for their view on the immigration program, with a question worded 'Do you think the number of immigrants coming to Australia through official channels and allowed into Australia should be increased, decreased, or stay the same as now?' A very low 27% indicated that the intake should be decreased, 48% that it should stay the same as now, 22% that it should be increased, and 4% did not know. The low proportion indicating that the intake should be decreased may in part have resulted from the wording, 'through official channels' and 'allowed into Australia'. Other surveys concerned with the immigration intake have employed a simpler and more direct question.
Lowy Institute survey on opinion on foreign policy, February 2014, asked one question on migration of all respondents and a follow up question of five parts of the minority who considered the immigration intake to be too high. The first repeated the question asked in the Scanlon Foundation surveys and several polls: 'Do you personally think that the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high, too low, or about right'. A relatively low 37% of respondents considered the intake to be 'too high', 47% 'about right' and 14% 'too low'. The minority (37%) who answered 'too high' were asked to indicate level of agreement with 'some reasons other people have given as to why the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high'; 88% indicated strong agreement with the view that 'we should train our own skilled people, not take them from other countries', 87% with the view that 'having more people could make unemployment worse'; lower proportions indicated strong agreement with the view that 'Australia's cities are already too crowded (72%) and 'the natural environment is stressed by the numbers we already have' (68%) . The lowest level of strong agreement (50%) was with the view that 'we have too much cultural diversity already'.
Scanlon Foundation Poll, July 2013, posed a broad series of questions on immigration issues. They included attitudes to the current intake and to immigrants from ten specified countries, and the impact of immigration on neighbourhoods. A broad range of questions provided the basis for analysis of the association of attitudinal and demographic variables. For the report of findings, see this site Scanlon Foundation Surveys.
Essential Report, 29 April 2013: see under Population.
Lowy Poll, March 2013, asked respondents to consider the importance of 'what the Australian government is doing about the Asian region'. Six issues were specified, including 'increase the number of migrants Australia accepts from Asia.' Of the six issues, this was regarded as the least important – considered 'very important' by 12% (13% in 2012) and 'somewhat important' by 37% (40%), a total of 49% (53%). This result compared with 60% who considered that it was 'very important' to 'do more to assist Australian businesses to succeed in Asian markets' and 29% who saw an increase in defence spending as 'very important'.
Fairfax Nielsen poll, 19 March 2013, asked 'Generally speaking would you say there are too many workers from overseas coming to work in Australia, too few or about the right amount? Or is this something you don't have an opinion about?' 39% indicated 'too many', 4% 'too few', 33% 'about right', 22% 'no opinion' and 2% 'don't know'. Mark Kenny commented for the Age that'Julia Gillard's claim that foreigners are pushing Australians to the back of the jobs queue appears to have been deliberately targeted at a specific group of voters with new research showing four out of 10 people believe there are too many foreigners admitted under the skilled temporary migration visa program', without identifying the 'specific group of voters' other than noting a 'new more insular community sentiment'. The poll found little difference between supporters of the two major parties: 41% Coalition and 39% Labor indicated 'too many', compared to 15% Greens. There was no evidence to support the claim of 'new more insular community sentiment', nor did the question asked by Nielsen specify 'the skilled temporary visa program'. There was no mention by the Age that the 39% finding was markedly lower than the 58% obtained by Essential Research earlier in the same month, in response to a question specifying 'short-term 457 visas'.
Essential Report, 11 March 2013, asked 'Would you support or oppose Government legislation to reduce the number of workers being brought to Australia under short-term 457 visas'. 58% indicated support, 24% opposition, and 17% 'don't know'. Support was indicated by 64% of Labor voters, 58% Liberal/National and 49% Greens.
Essential Report, 11 March 2013, in a question headed 'Immigration issues', asked 'which of the following issues are you most concerned about?', and specified 'arrival of asylum seekers by boat', 'arrival of foreign workers under short term (457) visas' and 'overall increase in Australia's population'. Asylum seekers ranked first, short term entry of workers second and increase in population ranked first. The response options were provided in two different versions, each asked of approximately half of the sample. In one form, the question was in general terms, in the second approximate numbers were provided: 15,000 asylum seekers, 150,000 short term workers, 300,000 annual population increase. While provision of numbers did not change the ranking, the specification of 15,000 asylum seekers reduced the proportion 'most concerned' from 38% to 33%, while the specification of 150,000 short term workers increased the proportion 'most concerned' from 20% to 31%. The indication of annual population growth at 300,000 had almost no impact on the proportion 'most concerned' (18%, 17%). Close to 20% of respondents indicated 'none of them' or 'don't know'.
ANU Poll, September 2012 (Report number 13, published October 2012). When asked in an open-ended question to consider the 'most important problem facing Australia today?' 15% of respondents indicated immigration, an issue which ranked equal second behind 'economy/jobs' (26%). The finding of 15% represents a marginal decline, from 18%, in the previous poll conducted in October 2011. The ANU Poll has consistently found that the economy and employment are the main concerns of survey respondents, and the proportion mentioning them has increased consistently since March 2010. The poll can be accessed at http://politicsir.cass.anu.edu.au/research/projects/electoral-surveys/anupoll/perceptions-corruption-ethical-conduct (accessed 25 February 2013).
Scanlon Foundation Poll, July 2012, posed a broad series of questions on immigration issues. They included perceived level of immigration, attitudes to the current intake, to immigrant visa categories and immigrants from fifteen specified countries, and the impact of immigration on neighbourhoods. A broad range of questions provided the basis for analysis of the association of attitudinal and demographic variables. For the report of findings, see this site Scanlon Foundation Surveys.
Lowy Institute survey on opinion on foreign policy, April 2012, asked three questions on migration. The first asked 'Thinking about how the Australian government determines which migrants come to Australia to live. Please say whether you personally think each of the following issues is an important criteria or not an important criteria for determining which migrants should be allowed to come to Australia to live? Six criteria were specified, with proportions indicating 'very important' noted in brackets: work skills (65%), English language skills (60%), similar values to Australians (57%), education (47%), religion (15%) and race (10%)'. Respondents were then asked which of the criteria is 'most important'; the three top ranked issues were similar values to Australians (34%), work skills (23%) and English language skills (20%). The third question asked 'When there are shortages of workers in Australia and companies in Australia cannot find enough skilled workers, are you personally in favour or against the government allowing in extra workers from foreign countries to come to Australia and fill those positions on short-term visas?' 62% of respondents were 'strongly' or 'somewhat in favour', 37% 'strongly' or 'somewhat against'.
Quantum Market Research, AustraliaSCAN survey, November 2011. The survey was featured in reports in the Melbourne Herald Sun and Sydney Daily Telegraph on 22 May 2012, without indication of the date of the survey, questions asked, methodology or frequency distribution of responses. The reports were headlined 'Migrant tide turns' and 'Tide of public opinion is turning against immigration' and findings were quoted in other sources. For a critical analysis of this survey see Andrew Markus, 'Does Australian Opinion Support an End to Immigration?', Australian Mosaic, Issue 31, Winter 2012. AustraliaSCAN is a comprehensive annual survey with findings only made available to subscribers. Findings for four questions were provided to Andrew Markus for purposes of analysis, but had not been publicly released as at 1 August 2012.
Scanlon Foundation Poll, June 2011, posed a broad series of questions on immigration issues. They included perceived level of immigration, attitudes to the current intake, to immigrant visa categories and immigrants from fifteen specified countries. and the impact of immigration on neighbourhoods. A broad range of questions provided the basis for analysis of the association of attitudinal and demographic variables. For the report of findings, see this site Scanlon Foundation Surveys.
Essential Report, 28 February 2011 (for Channel 10) asked 'In your view, should the Australian government exclude Muslims from our migrant intake'. 25% of respondents responded 'yes', 55% 'no' and a high 20% 'Don't know/ Refused'. 'Yes' was highest among Liberal/National voters (33%) and those aged 55 and above (31%). 'No' was highest among Greens voters (83%) and Labor voters (62%), compared with a much lower proportion among Liberal/National voters (49%). 'Don't know/ Refused' was highest among those aged 18-34 (25%).
Essential Report, 28 February 2011 asked seven questions related to immigration, multiculturalism and Muslim Australians (for questions on multiculturalism, see the Other section). It asked, in general terms, if it 'should be possible' to reject a 'family … purely on the basis of their religion. 65% responded in the negative, 19% supported the possibility of rejection and 15% did not know. The strongest support, at a low 24%, was indicated by Liberal/ National voters, compared to 17% Labor and 10% Greens. The next question asked: 'Are you concerned about the number of Muslim people in Australia?' 28% were 'very concerned' and 29% somewhat concerned, a total of 57%; 38% of respondents were not concerned and 5% indicated 'Don't know' or refused to give an answer. Concern was correlated with an over-estimate of the size of the Muslim population. 39% of respondents over-estimated the proportion of Muslims in Australia by a factor of three or greater and 18% indicated that they did not know.
Ipsos Mackay – SBS, December 2010. This comprehensive report was commissioned by SBS with the objective of understanding Australian attitudes to immigration over time, in the context of the launch of the broadcaster's Immigration Nation series. The study employed an online survey with 1375 respondents, as well as in-depth interviews and affinity mini-groups. The date of surveying was not specified in the report. The quantitative findings indicated high level of support for cultural diversity: 62% of respondents agreed that 'Australia should be a multicultural society' and 61% that immigrants have enriched the Australian way of life. 48% agreed that 'all immigrants should be able to maintain their culture without prejudice or disadvantage', while 36% indicated 'neither agree nor disagree'. Some questions replicated ones used in the Scanlon Foundation surveys, with close to identical results: thus 13% of respondents indicated that they had experienced discrimination in the last 12 months because of their 'skin colour, ethnic origin or religion' (Scanlon 2010: 14%), 94% that they have a sense of belonging in Australia to a great or moderate extent (Scanlon 2010: 95%). The report provided a breakdown of some findings by 'CALD' (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) and 'non-CALD' categories and an attitudinal segmentation which produced four distinct, relatively equal groups labelled 'Under no circumstances' (22%), 'Fear of the foreign' (23%), 'On our terms' (27%) and 'Room for more' (28%). The report is available online and may be located by a Google search employing the terms 'Ipsos Mackay Report SBS Immigration Nation'. (Accessed 4 April 2011)
Essential Report, 2 August 2010, informed respondents that 'Tony Abbott has proposed to cut immigration from around 300,000 a year to 170,000. Do you approve or disapprove of this cut to immigration?' A large majority, 64%, approved, 22% disapproved while 14% indicated 'Don't know'. Approval was strongest among Liberal/ National voters at an almost unanimous 91%, followed by 52% Labor and 38% of Greens. 49% of Greens disapproved. When asked 'Which leader and party do you trust most to handle immigration issues', a high proportion indicated lack of trust in any party; 35% indicated trust of 'Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party' (compared to the 64% approving his proposal to cut immigration), 23% indicated 'Julia Gillard and the Labor Party', 31% indicated 'no difference' and 10% did not know.
Nielsen poll, July 2010 (cited by Pollytics, Crikey, 1 August 2010) asked 'Do you feel that the current level of immigration is too high, too low or about right?' 47% indicated 'too high', 5% 'too low' and 45% 'about right'.
US Study Centre, Univ. Sydney, July 2010, undertook an online survey with 1000 respondents as part of a comparative study of US and Australian attitudes towards immigration. A brief report of nine pages is dated 16 August 2010 and is available on the internet, located with a search referring to the authors, Shanto Iyengar and Simon Jackman, and the title 'Australian and American attitudes to Illegal Immigration'. The title is doubly misleading as  the report is not principally concerned with illegal immigration and  'asylum seekers' arriving in Australia are not illegal. The survey asked questions unusually worded in the context of Australian polling. It asked for responses to the proposition that 'Right now, Australia is taking in too many immigrants'. 69% of respondents indicated yes, in all likelihood the high proportion an artefact of the question's wording. A positively worded proposition, 'Immigrants have a very favourable effect on Australia', produced majority (58%) agreement. The report presents analysis of responses cross-tabulated with voting intention and views of the country's economic performance.
Roy Morgan Research, July 2010 (finding 4536), informed respondents 'Over the last year (2008/09) about 170,000 immigrants came to Australia. Do you think the number of people coming here to live permanently should be increased, or reduced, or remain about the same?', 47% indicated remain about the same, 11% increased, 40% reduced. It also asked for views on types of immigration; 88% supported 'skilled migrant immigration', 75% supported 'family reunion immigration', 54% 'Muslim immigration' and 52% 'asylum seeker immigration'.
Essential Report, July 2010, informed respondents that 'On average, Australia's population increases by about 300,000 per year (less than 2%)'. This was somewhat misleading. In the years 2007-2010 the actual increase was over 400,000. It then asked, do you think this is too high, too low or about right? 48% of respondents considered it to be too high, 35% about right and 4% too low. 12% indicated that they did not know.
Scanlon Foundation Poll, June 2010, posed a broad series of questions on immigration issues. They included attitude to the current intake, the value of immigration, settlement policy, favoured categories and nationalities of immigrants, and the impact of immigration on daily life. A broad range of additional questions provided the basis for exploration of the association of attitudinal and demographic variables with attitudes to immigration. For the report of findings, see this site Scanlon Foundation Surveys.
ANU Poll, June, April 2010, When asked in an open-ended question to consider the 'most important problem facing Australia today?' 13% of respondents indicated immigration, an issue which ranked equal second behind 'economy/jobs' (17%). Ranking of issues is a standard question used in the ANU Poll, which was first conducted in 2008. The highest ranking of any issue was the 53% of respondents who mentioned 'economy/jobs' in the report published in April 2009. The poll can be accessed at http://politicsir.cass.anu.edu.au/sites/politicsir.anu.edu.au/files/2009-04-29_ANUpoll_defence_report_0.pdf (accessed 7 March 2011).
Age/Nielsen, April 2010, asked respondents for views on the current immigration intake; 54% considered it to be 'too high', 38% 'about right' and 6% 'too low'.
Roy Morgan Research, March 2010 (finding 4482), informed respondents that about 170,000 immigrants came to Australia 'over the last year'. It then asked, 'Do you think the number of people coming here to live permanently should be increased, or reduced, or remain about the same?' 39% favoured a reduction, 46% responded about the same, 11% increased, and 4% did not know. In response to a question on the impact of immigration, 84% indicated that immigration was changing Australia's way of life and culture, 39% considered that the change was for the better, 32% for the worse, and 14% did not know. In response to a question on attitudes to 'types of immigrants', 55% indicated that they were favourable to Muslim immigration (36% opposed), 87% in favour of 'skilled migrant immigration', and 78% in favour of 'family reunion immigration.
Attitudes to the level of immigration and population growth
Population growth of 300,000 a year
Increase/ decrease immigration
Increase/ decrease immigration
Current intake (growth): reduce
Maintain or increase
Uncertain/ Don't know
Galaxy Poll for the Courier-Mail, Sunday Mail and other News Limited papers, January 2010 found that 66% of respondents were in favour of the Federal Government 'capping immigration into Australia', while 16% were opposed and 18% were uncommitted. Why the question was asked in these terms, and how the results are to be interpreted, are uncertain, as the Federal Government does apply an immigration 'cap', as it has done consistently since 1945. The survey finding was reported under headlines 'Poll shows Aussies want immigration capped' and 'Galaxy poll reveals Aussie … fear of immigrants'.
Age/Nielsen in November 2009 asked respondents for their views on the current immigration level; 43% considered it to be too high, the same proportion (43%) that it was about right, and 9% that it was too low.
Scanlon Foundation survey July 2009, see Scanlon Foundation Surveys.