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Concerns about immigration should not be ignored

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 15 October 2015


A change of leadership in the Liberal Party has convinced some erstwhile supporters that now is the time to form new parties on the right of Australian politics.

At least one of these is based around an organisation called the Q Forum, which has concerns about Islamic immigration.

Will any of these groups achieve the prominence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation?

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I don’t know.

What I do know is that if you ignore the concerns of a large part of the community, or dismiss these concerns as illegitimate, then you get the sort of political forest fires that we saw with Pauline Hanson.

In that case a new party went from a standing start in 1997 to 22.68% of the Queensland vote and 11 seats one year later in 1998.

What I also know, based on a qualitative survey of 1,349 Australians we conducted, and the study we have just released, is that if parties are based around concern about Islamic immigration, then a significant segment of the community is likely to welcome them.

I also know that while this concern is strongest on the right with 75% of our Liberal, and 69% of our non-Greens minor party respondents saying Islamic immigration is bad for Australia, on the left 22% of ALP and 18% of Greens respondents thought the same. 

Even more startling, only 8% of all respondents thought Islamic immigration has been for the good.

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But not only is this an issue for a prime minister seeking to be inclusive, it is even more an issue for the community itself, or more properly the communities themselves.

There are the recently arrived migrant communities, and those communities who have been here centuries, and then there are overlapping communities based not on ethnic origin, but shared beliefs.

The research identifies different belief groups with significantly different attitudes on immigration, even when they use the same words.

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This article was first published in The Australian.



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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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Australian Attitudes to Immigration

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