With most recent opinion polls showing the majority of Australians want immigration to be lowered, 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 income decile and 77% in the lowest believe that immigration should be cut or paused until critical infrastructure has caught up.
The Scanlon Foundation’s professor, Andrew Markus, has gone into full damage control, via SBS News:
…a number of opinion polls in 2018 reported majority opinion, in the range 54-72 per cent, favouring a cut in immigration.
These findings were reported without scrutiny, under headlines such as “Voters back migration cut”.
But three surveys have obtained different results, highlighting the potential impact on estimates of public opinion of question wording, question context and survey methodology.
In October 2018, the Fairfax-Ipsos poll found that a minority, 45 per cent, favoured reduction while a majority (52 per cent) agreed that the intake should remain at the current level or be increased. In surveys in July-August, the Scanlon Foundation obtained an almost identical result.
One of the Scanlon Foundation surveys was interviewer-administered with a sample of 1,500.
A second, with a sample of 2,260, utilised the Life in Australia panel, which provides for almost 90 per cent of the surveys to be self-completed online.
The surveys, which used an identical questionnaire, comprised 77 questions, including a broad range of questions on immigration, enabling a balanced understanding of public opinion…
This contrasts with surveys commissioned for the media, which typically include only a small number of questions on immigration.
Results in the interviewer-administered survey found 43 per cent of respondents believed the intake was “too high”, while the Life in Australia panel finding was 44 per cent…
At the same time, a large majority affirmed the value of immigration: 82 per cent agreed with the proposition that “immigrants improve Australian society by bringing new ideas and cultures”, while 80 per cent agreed that “immigrants are generally good for Australia’s economy”.
Furthermore, 85 per cent agreed that “multiculturalism has been good for Australia”, a finding consistent with the Scanlon Foundation surveys since 2013.
Hilariously, an online opinion poll conducted alongside Markus’ article on the SBS website is showing that 56% of respondents believe that “Australia’s current intake of migrants is too high” – similar to the other polls:
Amazing, isn’t it? When you ask a straightforward question about immigration, you get the majority of Australians favouring a cut.
As explained by the Australian Population Research Institute, Scanlon’s surveys are also questionable in that they capture the views of migrant non-citizens that are ineligible to vote, rather than just Australian citizens.
Nor is Markus’ claim that Australians view immigration as positive relevant to the current debate. I too hold this view. But nobody is asking for immigration to be stopped, but rather slowed from its current and projected extreme level to something akin to the historical norm:
Let’s also remember that the Scanlon Foundation’s founder, Peter Scanlon, is a key ring leader of Australia’s ‘growth lobby’. He is a major real estate investor and developer and has a clear vested interest in mass immigration, as explained by John Masanauskas in 2009:
MAJOR investor and former Elders executive Peter Scanlon hardly blinks when asked if his conspicuous support for a bigger population is also good for business.
Mr Scanlon, whose family wealth is estimated to be more than $600 million, has set up a foundation with the aim to create a larger and socially cohesive Australia.
It also happens that Mr Scanlon has extensive property development interests, which clearly benefit from immigration-fuelled high population growth.
“My primary driver in (setting up the foundation) is if we don’t have growth we are going to lose all our youth because the world is looking to train people around the world,” he explains. “Instead of having stagnant growth, we’re going to have a serious decline.”
Mr Scanlon believes that governments aren’t doing enough to sell the benefits of a bigger population so he has put his money where his mouth is…
Hilariously, Peter Scanlon at the time bemoaned that Australia’s infrastructure was failing to keep pace with the immigration-fuelled population growth:
Mr Scanlon said Australia lacked proper planning for the infrastructure needed to service a much bigger population.
“What bothers me is the constraint involving the lack of good government policy about infrastructure,” he said. “I mean, the fact that we don’t have a dedicated freight line, from what I understand, between Melbourne and Brisbane, is outrageous,” he said.
Since these comments were made by Peter Scanlon in 2009, Australia’s population has surged by 3.2 million and is projected to balloon by another 18 million people over the next 50-years! It is precisely the infrastructure crush that has fuelled the backlash against mass immigration.
Any ‘research’ coming out of the Scanlon Foundation in support of mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’ must be viewed in this light and taken with a huge pinch of salt.