Archive for the 'Migrants & migration' Category

Complicated opinion on refugees

The latest Lowy Poll finds the usual hard-to-interpret results on refugees.

The idea of a queue clearly resonates, as 88% of Lowy’s respondents agreed with the proposition that “unauthorised asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat are jumping the queue and getting in ahead of other asylum seekers wanting to come to Australia”. On the other hand, 43% agreed that “unauthorised asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat are often fleeing war and conflict and Australia should give them a chance to set up a new life in a safe country”.

Lawyers have been prominent in the pro-refugee cause, and the way they look at the world may not always have helped politically. How many times have we heard the argument that Australia’s treatment of refugees breaches our “international obligations”? Only 32% of Lowy’s respondents agreed that “├»nternational treaty obligations mean Australia has to accept refugees regardless of how they arrive here”.

By far the most powerful pro-refugee material I have seen was the SBS series Go Back to Where You Came From, which screened last week. Politically, stories are far more powerful than treaties.

(click on picture for more refugee polls) Read the rest of this entry »

Doing deals on refugees

Both Nielsen and Essential have polled on the governments recent plans for dealing with boat arrival refugees. The results seem quite sensitive to whether or not Australia is perceived as getting a good deal.

In one Essential question worded in a way that implied a straight swap of refugees between Australia and Malaysia the public was evenly divided, 40-40. But if told that that sending refugees offshore would cost more, the numbers change to 60-23 against.

Nielsen told respondents about the 1 for 5 deal, and came up with 58-35 against. (And at last a Fairfax paper is putting the full poll details online.)

The 1 for 5 deal does seem very favourable for Malaysia. If the government hasn’t guessed right about the changed incentives, they will look ridiculous.

Is arriving by boat a good proxy for refugee migrant quality?

While conservative elements of the Australian Right are strongly opposed to unauthorised refugee boat arrivals, there has been a quirky argument from its more libertarian elements that we should prefer them to migrants plucked out of refugee camps. Chris Berg made a version of this argument in 2009:

Aren’t people who are willing to risk their lives on boats propelled by motorbike engines to get to a society with social and economic freedom exactly the sort of people we want in Australia?

In other words, making it to Australia by boat is a kind of screening process, demonstrating some economic success at home to pay people smugglers, organisational skills, and willingness to take risks, all of which could be helpful attributes once they arrive. The people sitting passively in refugee camps may have shown some survival skills, but not much else.

It’s an appealingly counter-intuitive argument. Unfortunately the data in a report on humanitarian migrant outcomes (for people who had been here one to five years) published late last week (large pdf) leads me to the conclusion that it probably isn’t right. Read the rest of this entry »

Buddhists second most popular religious group

Yesterday’s Essential Research poll asked about the fastest growing religion between 1996 and 2006. I would have guessed Buddhism, most people thought Islam, but Essential says the correct answer is Hinduism. Actually I think I am right – Hinduism grew more quickly than Buddhism in percentage terms, but Buddhism grew more in absolute terms.

Questions in the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2009 show that Buddhists are the second most popular religious group in the country, after Christians. Consistent with comments on today’s thread, not many people have negative views of Hindu people, with the largest number having neither positive nor negative views. Predictably, Muslims are the least popular group.

Read the rest of this entry »

Muslim migration

An Essential Research poll asked about attitudes to Muslim migration, and found 25% support for excluding Muslims from the migrant intake:

That’s 11% lower than a Morgan Poll this time last year, with the proportion supporting Muslim migration the same on 55%.

As is often the case with soft opinion, polling methods rather than opinion shifts probably explain the difference. Essential does its surveys online, so people can see the ‘Don’t know’ option and easily choose it, while with telephone polls there is a stronger pressure to give an answer. When pressed, it seems people tend to go to negative on this issue.

A more abstract Essential question on whether migrants should be rejected on the basis of religion found only 19% in favour of doing so.

Over-qualification and migrants

An AMP-NATSEM report on migration released today included this figure on a long-term theme of mine, the employment outcomes of graduates:

In response to my claims that over-qualification is significant among graduates, Bob Birrell has said that the figures are distorted by the large number of over-qualified migrants. The numbers in this figure shows that this is a factor for migrants from non-English speaking countries. Read the rest of this entry »

Sympathy and scepticism on refugees

Previous posts have suggested that though most people want strong border protection against refugees who arrive by boat, attitudes to refugees coming to Australia by official means are more positive.

A couple of surveys I am just catching up on confirm this finding. In an ANU Poll question assuming that Australia’s population was to grow via migration, respondents were asked about ‘humanitarian migrants, that is refugees’. About 60% of respondents in this context support more such migrants.

The latest Mapping Social Cohesion Survey, while finding the usual negative attitudes to boat arrivals (27% turn back boats, 13% detain and send back, 37% temporary residence only), also found that most people have positive views of refugees as such: Read the rest of this entry »

What to do with refugees after they arrive?

There has always been majority public opposition to refugee boat arrivals. But what should we do with them once they have arrived? A couple of pollsters today released surveys on the government’s plan to house refugees with kids in the community.

The SMH found 50% opposition and 47% support, much more evenly divided opinion than on arrivals as such.

Essential Research found 53% disapproval and 33% approval, with 13% don’t know. The difference seems to be that with the SMH/ACNielsen phone poll the ‘don’t know’ option is not offered but recorded if given, while with Essential’s online poll
‘don’t know’ is there as an option. Read the rest of this entry »

Skills matching for recent graduates

Andrew Carr asks if I can compare the skills mismatch of international and local students. To re-cap, a study of former overseas student migrants in 2006 found that:

18 months after their arrival found the skills match for former overseas students at the following levels: accounting 35%, business/commerce 5%, education 31%, engineering 23%, IT 35%, law 50%, nursing 90%.

I can’t get a direct matching comparison but there are surveys relating to this issue.

The Graduate Destinations Survey (summary results are free), which surveys graduates about four months after completion, now has a question which asks about the link between the graduate’s qualification and their main paid job (it’s only asked of those in full-time work, so I will put in brackets the percentage still looking for full-time work). The answers combine those who answered either a ‘formal requirement’ or ‘important’: Read the rest of this entry »

Should the government change migration laws to suit universities?

Australia’s universities are in a bit of a panic. With international student applications down, and much bigger drops in the ‘feeder’ colleges, the next few years are looking particularly grim.

While issues such as the high dollar, student safety and more intense competition for even-more broke universities in the UK and US are affecting the international student market, changes to skilled migration rules are also causing grief.

Most university courses that were being used as backdoor routes to permanent migration are still on the skilled occupations list used by the immigration department (the vocational education sector has not been so lucky), but the number of visas available in this category has dropped significantly. The emphasis has shifted to employer-sponsored migrants. So international students now need to find an employer to support them, creating much more uncertainty.

Yesterday the Group of Eight lobby group joined other university groups in calling on the government to ‘fix’ the problems. Read the rest of this entry »