A third of Australians back move to raise migration cap – Sydney Morning Herald

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Only a third of Australians back the Albanese government’s decision to raise the permanent migration cap by 35,000 despite the country’s chronic job shortages.
Australians have also revealed that they are cautious about giving unions the ability to strike agreements for workers across a number of employers in the same industry, which was a central outcome of the government’s jobs and skills summit which took place earlier this month.
The decision by Anthony Albanese’s government to raise the permanent migration cap has been met with caution by Australians.Credit:Fairfax Media
As part of a bargain with unions and employer groups, the government announced it would allow multi-employer bargaining and raise the permanent migration cap to 195,000 this year to deal with the chronic shortfall in skills and jobs.
But exclusive findings in the Resolve Political Monitor, conducted for The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age by research company Resolve Strategic, show only one-quarter of Australians were aware of the summit and across any of the detail. Two-thirds of Australians were either unaware or only vaguely aware.
The findings suggest that the legacy of the jobs summit will not have the same profile as the Hawke government’s famous Accord, which was an agreement for workers to stop seeking wage increases in return for more spending on entitlements and benefits.
Only 34 per cent of respondents supported the decision to increase the permanent migration cap. A third of respondents opposed the measure while another third were either neutral or undecided.
Resolve director Jim Reed said the nervousness about immigration had been a trend in polling for a long time and had not dissipated with the demand for more workers coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Australians are nervous about too much immigration, not because they are unwelcoming of new arrivals and the benefits they can bring, but because they are more worried about the potential impacts,” Reed said.
“More people can equal more competition for jobs, more pressure on infrastructure and higher house prices as demand outstrips supply.
“At the moment, workers have more power to talk about wages and conditions because businesses don’t have much choice.”
A third of respondents agreed that the jobs summit was successful in achieving its objectives, although half were undecided.
Males and older voters were much more likely to be across some detail of the jobs summit, but there was not much difference in their opinions of it.
“Most people haven’t been paying close attention to the Jobs Summit in the same way that they would have done for the original Accord in the Hawke years,” Reed said.
“Part of that is the difference in scope, scale and outcomes, but it’s also indicative of the increasing disengagement of young people from broadcast politics.”
While the summit was still a “political positive in net terms”, Reed said he doubted the legacy of the jobs summit would grow in stature because there was not a lot of excitement for any of the outcomes.
“I’m not getting the read that anything in that list that we tested as possible outcomes are really exciting people,” he said. “They kind of supported or slightly not supported … they would have paid more attention if there was exciting stuff.”
Only 40 per cent backed the move to allow multi-employer bargaining, although 46 per cent were neutral or undecided.
More than half of the respondents were opposed to any move to give default union membership to new skilled migrants, a proposal floated by unions during the summit but not adopted by the government.
But Australians appear to be overwhelmingly in favour of more spending more money on social and affordable housing. Two-thirds of respondents supported the government’s decision to spend $575 million from the National Housing Infrastructure Facility on social and affordable housing.
Even more backed the move to allow older Australians to earn up to $4000 more before they lose the aged pension, with 77 per cent supporting the measure.
Taken together, Reed said the results showed that Australians were nervous coming out of the pandemic.
“They’re distracted. And when you speak to them in focus groups, the results are not surprising,” he said. “They are thinking inwardly: ‘How on earth do I afford the utility bill? Where do I cut elsewhere with groceries going up?’”
Australian Council of Social Service acting chief executive Edwina MacDonald said with the cost of living increasing there was more support for measures to address affordable housing and boost the JobSeeker rate.
“As interest rates and rents rise and we hear of more people being forced to sleep in cars, tents, or couch-surf, the commitment made at the summit to invest in social and affordable housing is a welcome step towards expanding the supply of housing,” she said.
“We remain deeply concerned at the omission of a commitment at the summit to lifting income supports for people receiving working age payments.”
The Resolve Political Monitor surveyed 1607 eligible voters from five days to last Sunday.
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