New poll: Huge majority of Aussies want immigration cut


By Leith van Onselen

A new survey by the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) has found that the majority of both rich and poor Australians want immigration lowered from current extreme levels until infrastructure catches up:

The majority of both rich and poor Australians support cutting the immigration intake to relieve population pressures on infrastructure…

The research, Australian Attitudes to Immigration: Coming Apart or Common Ground? is based on polling by YouGov Galaxy that surveyed the opinions on immigration-related topics of 500 Australians who live in the top 10% of metropolitan postcodes by income and education, and 500 who live in the bottom 10%.

Research authors Dr Jeremy Sammut and Monica Wilkie say the polling shows that attitudes to key immigration questions in both the most affluent and least affluent suburbs are not starkly polarised and are far more similar than they are different…

The results indicated that, with respect to immigration levels, there is greater support for current intake among Australians who reside in higher income postcodes and less support among Australians who reside in low income postcodes. But rather than revealing social polarisation, the results suggest that attitudes to immigration levels are more similar than different. Hence, a near-majority in the highest decile postcodes (46%) and a majority in the lowest decile postcodes (57%) believe that current levels of immigration are ‘too high’.

But more importantly, the overwhelming majority — 65% in the highest decile and 77% in the lowest — believe that immigration should be cut or paused until critical infrastructure has caught up. This concern about a growing population’s impact on infrastructure is consistent with the Lowy Institute’s 2014 polling which found of those respondents who believed the current number of migrants was ‘too high’, an overwhelming majority (72%) stated the reason as: “Australia’s cities are already too crowded.”…

The polling showed that there is a ‘postcodes effect’ with regards to how strongly people support an immigration cut. Nearly half of those in the least affluent (49%) postcodes strongly agreed with an immigration pause or cut compared with 36% in the most affluent postcodes.

The explanation for this may be that immigration impacts differently on high- vs low-decile postcodes because migrants mostly settle in the less affluent — but more affordable — suburbs in metropolitan areas. Residents in the least affluent postcodes are more likely to be impacted by population pressures on public transport and public schools, and hence feel more strongly about the need to allow infrastructure to catch up with demand. Yet more than one-third of those in the most affluent suburbs also strongly agree, suggesting that immigration-related congestion is an important issue for those residents…

As Figure 3 shows, there is widespread support in our cities for ‘giving priority’ to migrants who agree to settle and work in regional areas in both the most affluent postcodes (78%) and the least affluent postcodes (72%)…

There is even greater support, again regardless of postcodes, for requiring migrants to attain proficiency in English… 80% of Australians in the most affluent postcodes and 86% in the least affluent postcodes agree that, “the government should require migrants to reach a minimum standard of English language proficiency before granting them permanent residence.”


Almost all recent opinion polls show that Australians want immigration to be cut, including:

  • Australian Population Research Institute: 54% want lower immigration;
  • Newspoll: 56% want lower immigration;
  • Essential: 54% believe Australia’s population is growing too fast and 64% believe immigration is too high;
  • Lowy: 54% of people think the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high;
  • Newspoll: 74% of voters support the Turnbull government’s cut of more than 10% to the annual permanent migrant intake to 163,000 last financial year; and
  • CIS: 65% in the highest decile and 77% in the lowest believe that immigration should be cut or paused until critical infrastructure has caught up.

The only outlier is a Fairfax-Ipsos poll from October showing 23% of respondents backing an increase in the migrant intake and 29% approving the current intake, versus 45% wanting the migrant intake to be cut a little or a lot.


In aggregate, these polls comprehensively show how out of touch Canberra’s politicians and their growth lobby mates are with the Australian populace. Community support for mass immigration has unequivocally collapsed.

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About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.