Survey shows Australians support foreign labour

A new survey shows a majority of Australians support the use of foreign workers to address labour shortages, but are also opposed to large-scale foreign investment.

The Lowy Institute poll has found 62 per cent of people support the use of temporary skilled migration when local employees are not available.

The annual survey was conducted before the Federal Government announced it would allow 1,700 foreign workers to be employed on the Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia.

But the institute's executive director, Michael Wesley, says the poll gives some indication of what Australians might think about the plan, and shows many people are worried about foreigners buying Australian assets.

"We found that 81 per cent of people we asked are against foreign companies buying Australian farmland," Mr Wesley said.

"Australians continue to be worried about the amount of Chinese investment the government is allowing in - 56 per cent think the government's allowing too much Chinese investment into Australia.

"I think people are well aware that some of the big projects in Australian history like the Snowy Mountains scheme were built using skilled labour, because the labour wasn't available from within the Australian population.

"So they're aware that our prosperity and our progress as a nation does depend on allowing in people with the skills that we need."

The survey has also found support for Australia's alliance with the United States has reached its highest level since the poll began in 2005.

But support for tough action on climate change has continued to fall, with 63 per cent of respondents opposed to the government's carbon tax.


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