Australians say country is ‘already full’, support partial ban on Muslim immigration

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Fate of Australia 457 Visa Hangs in the Balance
Deliberations on Australia's 457 visa are due to take place over the next few weeks, so business owners are expressing concerns over hiring implications of restrictions. Jesse Collins/Unsplash

A national survey by the Australian Population Research Institute shows that almost half of Australians support a partial ban on Muslim immigration. Three quarters of Aussies believe the nation does not need more people.

According to the Australian Population Research Institute survey, 54 percent want a reduction in the annual migrant intake and 48 percent agree with a partial ban on Muslim immigration. Researchers say the findings are driven by quality of life concerns as well as changes in the country’s ethnic and religious make-up.

Seventy four percent of people who responded to the survey believe Australia is "already full." Some pointed to road congestions and fewer jobs as proof.

Twenty seven percent were undecided regarding a partial ban, while a quarter opposed it. The report also notes that the willingness to take “discriminating stance” on Muslim immigration extends to almost half of all voters, and not just limited to a small minority.

The organisation's researchers, Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell, said that Australian voters' concern regarding immigration levels and ethnic diversity does not derive from economic adversity. "Rather, it stems from the increasingly obvious impact of population growth on their quality of life and the rapid change in Australia's ethnic and religious make-up,” they wrote in a report.

Australia's population growth is primarily due to new immigrants coming. The nation saw population growth by 389,000 people to 24.5 million in the year to March.

Many people, 68 percent, who arrive here are skilled workers. About a third move to be with their family.

Some feared Australia risked losing its culture and identity. Other respondents said the nation sometimes "felt like a foreign country.”

Getting the balance right

Immigration minister Peter Dutton reacted to the survey results on Thursday, saying the government was looking at the migration numbers. "In the Labor years the number peaked at about 305,900 in one year which was an enormous number, we've got that number down now below 190,000 and as I say, we’re happy to reassess,” he told 2GB's Ray Hadley.

The minister said new migrants were drawn to huge population centres where pressure on housing and infrastructure was most often felt. He pointed out that in some regional towns, however, they could not get workers in the meatworks or areas of primary production, tourism and restaurants. Dutton said that is why Australia has to get the balance right.