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Essential Report, 17 February 2015, asked: 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', with 15 issues specified. 32% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to handle 'managing population growth', 20% Labor, 9% Greens, and the largest proportion, 39%, responded 'don't know'. This result is almost identical to that obtained when the question was asked in February and June 2014.

Essential Report, 3 June 2014, asked: 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', with 15 issues specified.  31% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to handle 'managing population growth', 21% Labor, 9% Greens, and the largest proportion, 38%, responded 'don't know', a result almost identical to that obtained when the question was asked in February.

Essential Report, 22 April 2014 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'managing population growth' ranked equal twelfth, selected by 9% of respondents as one of their three most important issues.

Lowy Institute survey on opinion on foreign policy, February 2014, repeated a question it asked in 2010 on 'the best target population for Australia in the next 40 years' and obtained almost identical results as in the earlier survey, despite the much lower level of public discussion of optimum population size than in 2010; 4% favoured a reduction in the size of the current population (4% in 2010); 18% the current population size of 23 million (22%); 42% favoured a population of 30 million (43%); 25% favoured 40 million (23%); and 9% 50 million (6%).

Essential Report, 11 February 2014, asked 'Which of these .... issues are you personally most concerned about?', with economic issues first specified, then 'other issues'. The six 'other issues' included 'population growth' which was ranked fifth, selected by 10% of respondents.  There was relatively little difference by indicated vote: 'population growth' was selected by 8% Liberal/National voters, 12% Labor and 10% Greens.

Essential Research repeated its 'party trust to handle issues' question, one that it had asked on five occasions in 2013. The question, worded 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', specified 15 issues. 32% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to handle 'managing population growth,' 21% Labor, 8% Greens, and a high 38% responded 'don't know'. This result was similar to those obtained in 2013. Thus five earlier polls found trust in the Liberal Party to 'manage population growth' in the range 33%-37%, Labor in the range 16%-24%, and Greens in the range 7%-9%.

Essential Report, 19 November 2013 asked 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues' and specified 15 issues. 35% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to 'manage population growth,' 16% Labor, 8% Greens, and a high 42% responded 'don't know.'

Essential Report, 2 September 2013 asked 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues' and specified 15 issues. 33% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to 'manage population growth,' 24% Labor, 9% Greens. 34% responded 'don't know.'

A second question asked 'Which of these .... issues are you personally most concerned about?', with economic issues first specified, then 'other issues'. The six 'other issues' included 'population growth' which was ranked fourth, selected by 12% of respondents.   'Population growth' was selected by13% Liberal/National voters, 10% Labor and 4% Greens.

Essential Report, 5 August 2013 considered differences between perceptions of parties by focusing on party leaders. 15 issues were specified and respondents were asked 'which party leader – Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott – would you trust most to handle the following issues'. In response to 'managing population growth', 21% indicated Kevin Rudd, 28% Tony Abbott, 37% indicated 'no difference' and 15% 'don't know'.

Essential Report, 23 July 2013 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'managing population growth' ranked equal thirteenth, selected by 9% of respondents as first, second or third rank. Respondents were then asked, 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', with 15 issues specified.  33% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to 'manage population growth', 20% Labor, 8% Greens, and 39% responded 'don't know'.

Attitudes to management of population growth

'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues ....?' 'Managing population growth'. (Source: Essential Report)

Date

23 Jul 2013

17 Jun 2013

11 Feb 2013

19 Nov 2012

18 Jun 2012

5 Dec 2011

6 Jun 2011

11 Oct 2010

Labor

20%

18%

21%

22%

17%

18%

21%

28%

Liberal/National

33%

37%

33%

37%

36%

35%

36%

33%

Greens

8%

8%

7%

6%

7%

9%

7%

7%

Don't know

39%

38%

39%

35%

40%

39%

36%

33%

Attitudes to election issues: population growth

'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election ....?' 'Managing population growth'. (Source: Essential Report)

23 Jul 2013

17 Jun 2013

11 Feb 2013

19 Nov 2012

30 Jul 2012

5 Dec 2011

6 Jun 2011

9%

11%

9%

7%

8%

8%

12%

Essential Report, 17 June 2013 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'managing population growth' ranked equal ninth, selected by 11% of respondents as first, second or third rank (marginally higher than the 9% obtained in February 2013). Respondents were then asked, 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', with 15 issues specified.  37% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to 'manage population growth' (33% in February), 18% Labor, 8% Greens, and 38% responded 'Don't know'.

Essential Report, 29 April 2013 provided respondents with detail on population growth with a question wording that might have been expected to yield a relatively high negative response to the rate of growth: 'Australia's population has now reached 23 million and is growing by more than 300,000 a year. Do you think Australia's population growth is too fast, too slow or about right?' The finding was that 45% of respondents considered that the growth was 'too fast', 37% 'about right', 5% 'too slow', and 13% did not know. The finding of 45% is only marginally higher than the findings of recent surveys which asked about immigration in general terms, without specifying annual growth. 41% of Labor voters considered growth to be 'too fast', 45% Greens voters and 50% Liberal/ National voters. Of those with incomes under $1000 per week, 55% considered growth to be 'too fast'.

Essential Report, 11 March 2013:  see under Immigration, ranking of immigration and population issues.

Essential Report, 11 February 2013 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'Managing population growth' ranked equal third last, selected by 9% of respondents as first, second or third rank. Respondents were then asked,'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', with 15 issues specified.  33% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to 'Manage population growth', 21% Labor, 7% Greens, and 39% responded 'Don't know'.

Essential Report, 19 November 2012 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'Managing population growth' ranked equal last, selected as the first rank issue by 1% of respondents. A total of 7% of respondents ranked the issue first, second or third. Respondents were then asked 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues', with 15 issues specified. 37% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to handle 'Managing population growth', 22% Labor, 6% Greens, and 35% 'Don't know'.

Essential Report, 30 July 2012 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'Managing population growth' ranked last of fifteen issues, selected as the first rank issue by 2% of respondents.

Essential Report, 18 June 2012 asked 'Which party would you trust most to handle the following issues?' Of 15 specified issues, 36% of respondents indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to 'manage population growth', 17% Labor, 7% Greens and 40% did not know.

Essential Report, 5 December 2011 asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election'. Of 15 specified issues, 'Managing population growth' ranked last, selected as the first rank issue by 1% of respondents.

Essential Report, 24 January 2011, asked 'Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election?' Of 15 specified issues, 'Managing population growth' ranked near the bottom, selected as the first rank issue by 2% of respondents. When asked 'Which party would you trust most to handle … population growth', 36% indicated Liberal, 21% Labor and 37% did not know.

Essential Report, 11 October 2010, asked respondents to rank issues which would determine their vote in a Federal election. 'Managing population growth' was selected as a first ranked issue by 2% of respondents. 33% indicated that they would most trust the Liberal Party to manage population growth, compared with 28% indicating Labor and 7% Greens. 33% indicated 'Don't know'.

Essential Report, July 2010, informed respondents that 'It has been estimated that Australia will have a population of 36 million by 2050'. It then asked: 'Do you think this will be good or bad for Australia?' 55% responded that it would be 'very bad' or 'bad', 16% that it would be 'very good' or 'good', while 21% indicated 'neither good nor bad'. A second question 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.

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Attitudes to population issues, November 2009-July 2010

Question

Population of 36 million in 2050

Population of 36 million in 2050

Population of 36 million in 2050

Population of 30 million or more in 2040

Population of 30 million or more in 2050

Population of 36 million in 2050

Population of 35 million in 2049

Date

July 2010

June 2010

April 2010

March 2010

March 2010

February 2010

November 2009

Survey

Essential Report

Scanlon Foundation

Age/Nielsen

Morgan

Lowy Poll

Essential Report

Age/Nielsen

Negative

55%

51%

51%

60%

26%

48%

40%

Positive

16%

41%

27%

31%

72%

24%

32%

Neutral, other

8%

 

10%

 

 

23%

 

Uncertain/ Don't know 

21%

7%

2%

9%

1%

5%

26%

Scanlon Foundation Poll, June 2010, posed a series of questions on the predicted population of 36 million, the positives and negatives of such population growth, the record of the federal government in providing the infrastructure for population growth, perceptions of over-crowding and the impact of climate change. For the report of findings, see this site, Scanlon Foundation Surveys.

ANU Poll, June, April 2010. The seventh ANU Poll, 'Public opinion towards population in Australia', considered attitudes towards population policy, environment and infrastructure, immigration and fertility and the ageing population. Surveying was conducted between 15 March-1 April. The questions relating to population size and the reasons for supporting or opposing population growth were conducted between 8 and 24 June. A sample of 1200 was employed, with 850 of the original sample recontacted in June. When asked 'Do you think Australia needs more people', 44% answered 'yes', 52% 'no'. In response to the question 'Do you agree or disagree that the ageing population will cause Australia problems in the future', 68% agreed that it would, 19% disagreed. 71% disagreed with the proposition that 'the public health care system will be able to cope with the ageing population' and 59% agreed that 'the government will have to cut programs and welfare spending in the future to deal with the costs associated with an ageing population'. 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 their views on Australia's projected population of 36 million by 2050; 51% considered it too high, 27% about right and 2% too low.

Roy Morgan Research, March 2010 (finding 4482) informed respondents that 'Australia's population has increased from 17 million to 22 million over the last 20 years'. It then asked: 'What population do you think we should aim to have in Australia in 30 years – that is, by 2040?' 2% responded 50 million or more, 2%, 40-50 million; 6%, 35-40 million; 21%, 30-35 million; 35%, 22-30 million; 19%, 22-25 million; and 6% under 22 million. This somewhat complex question produced a bell curve response with an outlier at the top end of the scale: 2+2+6 = 10, 21, 35, 19, 6.

The Lowy Institute survey of opinion on foreign policy, March 2010, included one question on 'the best target population' for 2050 and gave respondents five options. While the full survey was released in May 2010, the results for this one question were released in March 2010, shortly after completion of surveying, to extensive media coverage. The results for the question were: best target 50 million, 6% agree; 40 million, 23%; 30 million, 43%; current level (22 million), 22%; reduce, 4%. The results were presented in the media as indicating 'Australians wary of 36m population target' (ABC News), 'Aussies don't want population of 36 million' (AAP), and 'Two-thirds of population are opposed to "big Australia"'. This media commentary missed two points: the survey did not ask respondents for their views on a population of 36 million, further, 72% supported a population of 30 million or more, substantially above the current level. Second, respondents were distributed along a bell curve (as found by the later Morgan poll, which asked respondents about population levels in 2040) – 4, 22, 43, 23, 6; such a finding can be interpreted to mean that the majority of respondents do not hold firm or clear views on the subject polled.

Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, pre-release of data, February 2010 Four questions relating to population issues were included in the AuSSA survey, paid for by researchers Bob Birrell and Katherine Betts. Respondents were presented with the tendentious statement that 'Immigration to Australia in 2009 was higher than in any other year.' It then asked respondents in blunt terms 'Do you think Australia needs more people? and for some reason provided only two choices, 'yes' or 'no'. There was thus no measure of strength of feeling and the 'Don't know' or 'Decline to answer' options were missing, so respondents were presented with a forced choice. 69% of respondents indicated 'no', 31% 'yes'. ABC News featured the survey under the headline "Labor elite out of touch" on immigration'.

Essential Report, February 2010, presented respondents with five propositions to which they were asked to indicate agreement or disagreement. 75% agreed with the view that Australia 'lacked infrastructure and resources to manage more population growth', 64% agreed that 'immigration should be slowed as it causes too much change in our society', 61% agreed that Australia's 'fragile environment cannot cope with a much larger environment', 38% agreed 'having a larger population will help our economy', and 35% that Australia has 'the space and resources to cope with a much larger population'. There is no indication that Essential Report randomised the order of questions presented to respondents, a procedure that can be adopted to limit the biasing of results by question order.

Essential Report, February 2010, informed respondents that 'It has been estimated that Australia will have a population of 36 million by 2050' and then asked 'Do you think this will be good or bad for Australia?' 48% of respondents considered that it would be bad, 23% neither bad nor good, 24% that it would be good, and 5% did not know.

Galaxy Poll for the Courier-Mail, December 2009, found 59% of those surveyed were in favour of the government limiting the state's south-east region's population growth.

Age/Nielsen November, 2009 polled attitudes to a population projection of 35 million by 2049: 40% indicated that it was too many, 30% about right, 2% too few and 26% had no opinion. The finding was featured in The Age under the headline 'Poll shows deep unease on 35 million people by 2049'. In presenting the findings (in commentary by Mary-Anne Toy and Michelle Grattan) the paper failed to consider the very high no opinion response, which might reflect lack of sure understanding of the issue, and the similar proportion (43%) who indicated in response to a second question that the current intake was too high. It is possible that many respondents were reflecting their current concerns and had limited understanding of the 35 million figure.

Scanlon Foundation survey July 2009, see Scanlon Foundation Surveys.