Backing for immigration ban grows in Australia

MORE than half of Australians want to ban immigration because population growth is out of control. The number of people wanting to close the border to immigration has risen from 41 per cent in 2005 to 51 per cent, research by AustraliaSCAN reveals.

Almost two-thirds believe migrants should try to "fit in" when they arrive.

Mary Drost, from suburban residents' action group Planning Backlash, said the results confirmed community concerns about rapid population growth, with Australia running the highest per capita migration program in the world.

"The roads are getting more congested, the trains are full, the schools and the hospitals are overloaded," she said. "We can't cope with it in Melbourne."

Just a third of the 2000 people questioned by Quantum Market Research believed overseas migration made Australia "a more interesting and exciting place", down from almost half in 1995.

Monash University migration expert Bob Birrell said the results showed public opinion had moved into new territory.

"I think they are right to be worried," he said. "We have record levels of immigration and, as a consequence, we are allowing 100,000 migrants to enter the workforce at a time when employment growth is at a level lower than that."

The Government's immigration and refugee program for 2012-13 is expected to reach a record 203,000 people, similar to the mass migration intakes of the 1960s.

But the major political parties show no signs of wanting to slash immigration. Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison blamed Labor's border protection policies for public hostility to migration, which was why the Coalition wanted to reinstate its border protection policies to stop the boats,

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said migration had brought substantial economic and cultural benefits, and net overseas migration had blown out under the Howard government.

"Our immigration reforms are delivering a sustainable level of migration, while responding to labour market needs," he said.

Jennie Blencowe, research and policy manager of AMES, a migrant resource group, said Australia was a nation of migrants with 45 per cent of the population either born overseas or with a parent born overseas.

"Refugees and migrants who come here have a very strong desire to fit in to Australian society," she said.


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