Over the last couple of months, several polls have identified opinion that seems to be inconsistent with migration at recent levels. An Essential Research poll last month found concern about migration on infrastructure, environmental and ‘change to society’ grounds. A Lowy Poll conducted in March found 69% opposition to the 2050 population size that continued recent levels of migration and fertility would according to the Intergenerational Report produce. A Morgan Poll also during March found that 60% wanted a population of 30 million or less by 2040, against projections of 32.6 million at current rates of population growth.
From all this I would have predicted that the Howard-era majority support for the migration program would be disappearing. But the Morgan Poll finds otherwise. 57% of those surveyed think that migration should remain about the same (46%) or increase (11%). Morgan surveys those aged 14 and over; narrowing the sample to voters 54% think migration should be the same (45%) or higher (9%). That’s almost the same as the 52% support last November.
The demographics make reading these polls more complicated still. Those who have most to lose from migration – the younger people who must compete with them for jobs and housing – are most in favour. Those who have most to gain from migration – the older people reliant on the skills and taxes of migrants to sustain them in their old age – are most against.
At this stage, while the polls are picking up concerns about migration, these are not yet affecting the basic yes/no question.