For the year ending September 2020 – Australia experienced the lowest population growth since World War II, driven by a big drop in overseas arrivals due to COVID-19 border closures.
And the 2021 Lowy poll revealed 91% of Australians are enjoying the pause in Australia’s huge migration intake. Why not?
Much more Australians have obtained employment due to the big fall in arrivals.
Only a fraction of Australians (9%) says a much lower rate of immigration would threaten Australia’s prosperity.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, migration comprised over 60% of Australia’s population growth. And has remained well above 180,000 people since 2007.
Compare that to the much lower long term net overseas migration average of around 90,000 per annum, highlighted in Chart 1 below.
The latest Australia Bureau of Statistics report discloses Temporary visa holders were the majority of overseas migrant arrivals (61.3%).
Furthermore, before the pandemic, World Bank data for 2017 show that Australia’s population growth was 1.6%, much higher than comparable countries migration levels such as Canada (1.2%), the UK (0.6%) and the US (0.7%).
Nearly half Australia’s population (47%) said that net overseas migration is too high.
Lowy Institute polling is conducted yearly and it is starting to exhibit trends showing rising unpopularity with immigration.
For instance, in 2019 the survey unveiled for the first time since polling, nearly half the population (47%) said that the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year was ‘too high’.
The growing chorus of citizens and influential Australians for lower immigration is being opposed at every turn by the Morrison government.
Even the party’s own ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pressed for reform, ‘’we’ve got stagnant wages, unaffordable housing, clogged infrastructure and there is no doubt the rate of immigration impacts on all of these things.”
The longer the Federal government ignore reasonable concerns of the Australian people, the more the pressure for change will mushroom.
The Scanlon Foundation’s annual surveys on immigration and multiculturalism
The Scanlon Research Foundation Australia conducts annual surveys on social cohesion, immigration and population issues (since 2007 they have conducted twenty-four surveys with more than 55,000 respondents).
The surveys involve collaboration with pro-immigration advocates the Australian Multicultural Foundation.
The 2021 Mapping Social Cohesion Report, disclosed some pessimistic views from Australian’s about multiculturalism and immigration.
A feature of the newest survey was the response to a question that ‘ethnic minorities in Australia should be given Australian government assistance to maintain their customs and traditions,’ with a big majority, 63% of respondents indicating disagreement.
In response to the proposition that ‘too many immigrants are not adopting Australian values,’ 60% agreed, marginally higher than 57% in 2019 when the question was first asked.
The survey found significant agreement between different age groups that immigration in recent years has been too high, indicated by 25% aged 25-34, 46% aged 45-54, and 50% aged 65-74.
A key social cohesion issue relates to the high numbers of temporary visa holders in Australia, currently stands at 1.7 million, and how this affects domestic unemployment rates.
The Scanlon survey found agreement with the statement that ‘immigrants take jobs away’ is at 18% of those aged 18-24 and close to 30% among other age groups.
This is not a insignificant measure and does suggest that reforms to the temporary migration programs needs to be seriously considered by the Morrison government.
These responses reflect other western countries that question the capacity of their societies to rapidly absorb rates of immigration and ‘hyper ethnic change’ that are largely unprecedented.