Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Australia shuns Middle East migrants
MORE than half of Australians would like fewer migrants from the Middle East, despite a decade-long softening in opposition to immigration. New research also found British migrants want their countrymen to make the same journey. Despite the divisive debate about boat people, refugees and the Federal Government's mandatory detention policy, Australians appear to be becoming more tolerant, with overall opposition to immigration falling markedly in recent years. But 53 per cent would like to see fewer migrants from the Middle East, according to the research, to be published in Monash University's People and Place this month. There is opposition, too, to more Asian migrants, with 36.7 per cent of Australian-born people wanting fewer Asian arrivals. Opposition to further migration was moderate in relation to migrants from southern Europe or Britain. There has been a fall in opposition to boat people since the boats stopped, particularly among those from a non-English-speaking background. In 2001, 63.1 per cent of Australian-born people said they thought "all boats carrying asylum seekers should be turned back", but last year only 53.3 per cent thought that. The author of the paper, Katharine Betts, of Swinburne University, said Australia was unusual in having had a large immigration program over a number of years. "It's part of the deal that if governments are going to do that, they have got to convince people it's in the interests of Australians, not simply in the interests of the immigrants themselves," Dr Betts said.