Almost half of Australians support a partial ban on Muslim immigrants and three quarters do not think the country needs any more people, a new report has revealed.
The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI) survey of more than 2000 Australians found that more than half of those surveyed feared Australia risked losing its culture and identity.
Some respondents claimed Australia had changed beyond recognition and sometimes “felt like a foreign country”.
Australia’s population increased by 389,000 people (1.6 per cent) to 24.5 million in the year to March, largely due to the arrival of new immigrants.
Most people who migrate to Australia are skilled workers (68 per cent) and about a third make the move to be with family.
But 74 per cent of those surveyed believe Australia is “already full”, with most pointing to roads congestion, hospitals capacity, affordable housing and fewer jobs as evidence.
More than half the population supported a reduction in the annual intake of migrants.
Some 54 per cent want Australia to cut its annual immigrant intake of about 190,000 people and 48 per cent backed a partial ban on Muslim immigration.
However, another 27 per cent were undecided about a partial ban, with one quarter directly opposing it.
The strongest support for the partial ban came from One Nation voters (89 per cent), with more than 50 per cent of Liberal voters agreeing and about one third of Labor supporters.
“The willingness to take a tough, discriminating stance on Muslim immigration is not limited to a small minority, but extends to almost half of all voters,” the report said.
Australia’s political and economic “elites” had ignored rising concerns about immigration, the report said, while noting rising support for anti-immigration parties across Europe.
“Such is the extent of these concerns that they could readily be mobilised in an electoral context by One Nation or any other party with a similar agenda, should such a party be able to mount a national campaign,” the report said.
“If this occurs, the Liberal Party is likely to be the main loser.”
The report understood the results to be driven by concerns about quality of life and rapid changes in Australia’s ethnic and religious make-up.
The report noted that the survey was largely based on the views of Australian-born respondents who were “much more likely to take a tough line on immigration numbers and ethnic diversity than are overseas-born persons”.
These findings are contrary to the latest survey conducted by the Scanlon Foundation which found just 34 per cent of Australians believed immigration levels were too high.
– with AAP