Half of Aussies want immigration cut
More than 70 per cent of voters say Australia does not need more people and half want immigration reduced, a pre-COVID-19 national survey reveals.
The findings are based on The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI) annual survey taken in October and November 2019.
The survey of voters' attitudes to population growth found 72 per cent said Australia did not need more people. Half of the respondents also said immigration was too high and should be reduced.
"This is a key finding since it shows that there is only lukewarm support for the core Big Australia strategy of high immigration," TAPRI academics Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell said in their research report released this month.
"This is especially true of non-graduates, 53 per cent of whom think it is too high.
"We can say with confidence based on our and other surveys that half the electorate are prepared to say, within the safety of an anonymous survey, that immigration should be reduced."
The study authors said most voters blamed high immigration for a deterioration of the quality of life in Australia's big cities as well as stress on its natural environment.
"Moreover, at least half the electorate do not support the progressive cultural values that left elites (including Labor's leaders) regard as legitimating high immigration. Nor do they support the economic arguments advanced to justify it," they said.
"Most of the voters who take this stance are not university graduates. On the other hand most graduate voters support progressive values and a significant minority of them say that immigration should be increased still further."
Dr Betts and Dr Birrell say that despite Australian governments pursuing a high immigration policy for almost 20 years, it is surprising there has been no "serious political challenge to a Big Australia".
"This is remarkable because over the same two decades immigration has become a huge public issue elsewhere, with major political consequences, especially in the UK and the US," they said.
But they predict it's unlikely to continue in a post-COVID environment.
"At least half the electorate is concerned about the effects of rapid immigration-fuelled population growth on their quality of life," they said.
"The conditions that made it possible to sustain a Big Australia and ignore this concern no longer exist in the post-COVID environment.
"The stock of voters at risk in a labour market deep in a COVID-induced recession is large.
"So is the number of those fearful of the health consequences of further high immigration and potentially deeply resentful of actions that would mock the sacrifices they have made."
The authors said any attempt by the major political parties to revive a "Big Australia" would be challenged by voters, prompting immigration to become a bigger issue than what it was pre-COVID-19.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Australia's population on March 31, 2020 was 25,649,985.
Originally published as Half of Aussies want immigration cut