What is the Australian public’s sentiment on the Federal Government’s immigration program?

A Send Money Australia study –  January 2023

This financial year the Australian Government has increased Australia’s immigrant intake to 195,000 – from 160,000 in the 2022 financial year. This year’s intake includes 142,400 skilled placements and 52,500 Partner visas.

Send Money Australia, a leading international money transfers guide, commissioned an independent survey of 1002 Australians to gauge their opinions on the Federal Government’s boost to immigration. Respondents were asked to identify the benefits and disadvantages they anticipate from the boost in Australia’s immigration intake. The survey respondents matched the geographical and population spread of the Australian population.

What benefits do the population believe immigration will to bring to Australia this year?

Send Money Australia presented respondents with a list of five possible benefits of Australia’s immigration program. More than four in five (84 per cent) respondents believe there is at least one benefit. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) believe immigrants filling skilled jobs will help solve Australia’s labour shortage. Nearly half (48 per cent) believe the program will bring an overall boost to the Australian economy through increased spending by immigrants.

Other benefits respondents identified included an injection of new ideas and innovation across various sectors (chosen by 38 per cent), improving Australia’s cultural offerings (36 per cent), and creating a more open-minded society (36 per cent).

Younger Australians are more likely to have a positive view of Australia’s immigration increase. Four in five (88 per cent) of under-35s believe there are benefits to the intake, compared with 86 per cent of 31-54-year-olds and 77 per cent of over-55s. 

Older Australians, however, are more inclined to view the positive impacts of immigration as economical. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of over-55s believe immigration will help solve Australia’s skilled labour shortages. This compares with 63 per cent of respondents aged 35-54 and 59 per cent of under-35s. Similarly, half (51 per cent) of over-55s believe the increased spending by immigrants will boost the Australian economy with immigration. This compares with 48 and 43 per cent of Australians aged 35-54 and 18-34 respectively.


Younger Australians were more likely to value cultural offerings, such as dining, and the creation of a more open-minded society as benefits to immigration. Just under half (45 per cent) of under-35s respondents believe Australia’s cultural offerings will improve on the back of the increased immigration intake, followed by 37 per cent of respondents aged 35-54 and just 26 per cent of over-55s. Forty (40 per cent) of under-35s believe immigration will create a more open-minded society, followed by 37 per cent of respondents aged 35-54 and just 29 per cent of those over 55.

Send Money Australia compared responses across the major States and Territories. ACT respondents perceive immigration more positively than other States, with 93 per cent of respondents choosing at least one benefit to the Government program. This was followed by 85 per cent of West Australians and Victorians, 84 per cent of South Australians and Queenslanders and 83 per cent of NSW residents.

Despite the lowest percentage of Australians seeing any benefits to immigration coming from NSW, more than half (51 per cent) of the State sees immigration as benefitting the economy. This was followed by 50 per cent of ACT residents, 49 per cent of Victorians, 47 per cent of Queenslanders, 46 per cent of West Australians and 42 per cent of South Australians.

Immigration program in 2023, opinion by state:

 

Disadvantages in the program, as viewed by Australians

Do Australians believe immigration will negatively impact the country and its economy this year?

Notwithstanding their positivity, the majority (92 per cent) of respondents also identified at least one disadvantage of the planned increased immigrant intake. Respondents could select more than one disadvantage from a list of five. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents believe the Government program will result in increased house prices and rents, due to more demand, and more than half (56 per cent) think it will cause overcrowding in our cities.

More than half (53 per cent) are concerned that while newcomers to Australia will earn money here, they are likely to send money back home, lowering economic benefits for Australia. Nearly half (45 per cent) are also concerned about 142,400 skilled placements risking an increase in Australia’s unemployment levels, and 44 per cent believe there will be more competition for jobs and, consequently, lower pay for workers.

Older Australians are more likely than younger respondents to view more disadvantages to immigration, occasionally by significant margins. Sixty-nine (69) per cent of over-55s respondents are concerned about migrants sending money back home, compared with 53 per cent of respondents aged 35-54 and just 33 per cent of those aged 18-34.

Surprisingly, despite their higher home-ownership rates, over-55s respondents are more likely to view house prices and rents increasing as a result of increased immigration, chosen by three-quarters of this group (73 per cent). This was followed by 66 per cent of respondents aged 35-54 and only half (54 per cent) of respondents aged 18-34 who are less likely to have cracked into the housing market.

Across the major States, respondents from the ACT are most likely to view overcrowding of our cities as a disadvantage to immigration (chosen by 64 per cent). This was followed by 59 per cent of NSW residents, 56 per cent of Victorians, 47 per cent of South Australians and 40 per cent of West Australians.

NSW residents feel most insecure about jobs on the back of the Government’s immigration program, with half (49 per cent) specifying a risk of higher unemployment as a result, compared with 47 per cent of Queenslanders, 46 per cent of Victorians, 37 per cent of West Australians and just 21 per cent of ACT residents.