Who is worried about immigration in Australia? The Spatial and demographic predictors about opposition to new arrivals.

Stream: Panel 7 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Public Opinion in Australia 
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Immigration policy has been a divisive political issue in many developed economies in recent decades. Australia is no exception, with immigration being a much debated topic notwithstanding what can be considered its highly successful national immigration program. A number of Australian scholars and commentators have studied electorate concern about immigration, and have attributed the rise of the populist-right One Nation Party in the 1990s, and the success of the centre-right Coalition parties in a number of elections since 2001, to the salience of this policy issue. Despite this, little research has focused on which voters are most concerned about Australian immigration levels and for what reasons. In this paper we study the effects of public opinion on three different types of immigration, and the individual and environmental factors that influence voter preferences. Using a large dataset of public from the 2013 federal election, census data and advances in opinion estimation, we estimate the level of support from immigration for a number of specific groups in all 150 electorates for the Australian federal parliament. We map the demographic backgrounds of voters who were more concerned about new arrivals to Australia at this time, and the environmental circumstance that are associated with opposition to further large scale immigration, including the size of the existing migrant population and the level of unemployment. This paper provides new insights in to what might contribute to negative and positive perceptions about immigration, and potential political and policy implications.


Shaun Ratcliff (Presenter), Monash University
Shaun Ratcliff is currently completing a PhD at Monash University, researching Australian voter and candidate issue preferences and public policy outcomes. This work has been presented at a number of conferences in Australia and the US. He is also a member of the Australian Society of Quantitative Political Science, and its Executive Committee. Shaun has a background working in politics and government relations. He also teaches politics at Monash University, and statistics and politics at the University of Melbourne.

Andrea Carson, University of Melbourne