Australia's Peril

Part One

Immigration Opinion Polls

There have been quite a few opinion polls published regarding population policies - particularly about immigration, with some polls specifically referring to Asian immigration.

Such opinion polls are to be welcomed, as they can provide an indication of the level of public feeling over immigration matters.

However, there are three matters to be considered in regards to such polls:
1) their overall precision and validity;
2) the information given as background to the questions, and the wording of the actual questions themselves; and
3) whether the interviewees' answers reflect their actual beliefs (regarding their wariness of interviewers).
These three matters are to be considered in regarding the accuracy of such polls.

1. Overall precision and validity.

The general accuracy of opinion polls has been questioned many times. The best achievable opinion poll would be of 100% of the population; however, this being impractical, most opinion polls try to reflect the nation's feelings by interviewing usually between 1000 to 2000 people. Some regard this to be too small a sample to be truly accurate.

However, in the opinion poll industry, such a figure is regarded as acceptable and accurate, particularly if the range of interviewees is spread through all major cities, as well as between city and country; different age levels; educational qualifications; political leanings; gender; with some weightings made to reflect population distribution.

It is believed by some experts that face-to-face interviews are more accurate than telephone interviews. However, other experts maintain that not only can face-to-face interviewing take longer to conduct and to compile results, but can be less accurate due to geographic clustering of interviewees, a lack of centralised quality control, and a weighting towards the "stay at home" population. Phone-in polls, such as may be conducted by current affairs or news shows, are regarded as having little or no proper scientific accuracy.(1)

2. The questions.

The background to questions are extremely important. For instance, a question on Asian immigration that understates the level of such immigration could elicit a lower anti-immigration response. An example of this was the Morgan Gallup Poll regarding 1987/88 immigration, which understated Asian immigration by some 14.6% to 37.6%; i.e. stating it was 49 000, not 57 363 (settler immigration) or 78 461 (permanent and long-term immigration). Note: the figure of 48 553 (settler immigration) can be arrived at, if immigration from West Asia is subtracted from the total intake figure for Asia (see Volume Two regarding "tricks" used in official immigration statistics). There may well have been a distinct difference in the results of that opinion poll, if the interviewees were told that Asian immigration during the previous year amounted to 78 000 (not 49 000).

There can also be a built-in bias to questions. For example, the AGB McNair poll on multiculturalism describes the policy thus: "This involves encouraging migrants to become Australians without having to give up their own culture"; such a policy (as described by the pollster) doesn't seem too objectionable, especially when what has been left out of the question is the most pertinent points of the multicultural doctrine: the official encouragement of the second generation - and later generations - to retain their forebears' culture (and thus not to become all-over Australians), the massive official funding of ethnic groups, the billions of dollars that the policy costs our country, ethnic influences over our immigration programme, and the ongoing destruction of the Australian identity and culture. If these factors were included in the question, then there is no doubt that the results would be very different.

Also, definitions of terms may not be clear. For instance, the Irving Saulwick poll published by The Age on 27 August 1984 asked whether "Australia should accept as migrants... suitable migrants from any country". What does "suitable" mean? Among other possibilities, many people may regard it as meaning "White people" from "any country". The term is unclear. Also, in the same poll, the question was asked as to whether "Australia should accept as migrants.... Europeans only", which to many interviewees could mean "people from Europe, only", i.e. excluding Whites from other countries, such as New Zealand, South Africa, the U.S.A., etc.; and some may also have thought it to exclude people from Britain - as many people consider the U.K., or the British Isles, to be an entity separate from "Europe" (many use the term "Europe" to refer to continental Europe). The poll result may well have been quite different if the question was worded as "British-European-White people only" or especially as "predominantly British-European-White people only".

3. Wariness by interviewees.

In the current climate of "political correctness" - brought about by the government, major political parties, media, and academia - ordinary Australians are often becoming too wary, or afraid, to speak their minds on many issues, particularly regarding immigration, multiculturalism, and Asianisation. This wariness also extends to the answering of questions by opinion pollsters. Remember, these pollsters know where the interviewee lives and/or know their phone number, are complete strangers, cannot be trusted by the interviewees to be neutral or impartial regarding the questions at hand (interviewers are human, after all, and can be expected to have their own views and biases), and cannot be trusted to preserve the confidentiality of the interviewee (even if the pollster regards himself/herself as impartial, that perception cannot be expected to be shared by all interviewees).

Research from the U.S.A. shows that "Americans are notoriously unreliable when answering questions related to race". For instance, in the 1989 campaign to elect a new Governor for the state of Virginia, it was found that
    "When white voters were questioned by white pollsters... they favoured Republican Marshall Coleman (a white candidate) by 16 points. But when whites were telephoned by interviewers with recognisably black intonation, they leaned to Douglas Wilder (a black candidate) by 10 points".(2)
This same point was made regarding opinion polling in the election for the Mayor of Los Angeles in 1982:
    "Some whites were reluctant to admit to pollsters that they planned to vote against a black".(3)
The point is that these days, when what Mark Uhlmann has called "social intimidation"(4) is so prevalent regarding matters of race and immigration, opinion polls cannot be expected to be completely accurate in their polling of the views of ordinary Australians. Responses on such matters as race and immigration can be expected to be even far more inaccurate if opinion poll companies use pollsters that are perceived to be "ethnic", particularly Asian "ethnics".

Such considerations reinforce the belief that anti-immigration results in opinion polls are likely to be much lower than such results should be in reality.


13 June 1979, The Age, p. 4.
Poll by Irving Saulwick and Associates.
2000 people interviewed.

"Recently a Greek couple was deported from Australia as illegal immigrants. It was said at the time that there may be many thousands of illegal immigrants in Australia. Do you think the government should: seek to find such people and deport them; deport such people if and when they are found; consider each case on its merits; or allow all such people who are currently in Australia to stay, provided they make themselves known to the authorities within a specified time?"

Response                          %:

Seek out illegal immigrants
and deport them                   17
Deport illegal immigrants
if and when they are found        13
Consider each case
on its merits                     53
Allow all illegal immigrants to
stay, provided they make them-
selves known to the authorities   16
Don't know                         1

"In the last year or two Australia has allowed about 10,000 refugees from Vietnam and other Indo-Chinese countries to settle in Australia each year. In future should we: accept more each year; accept about the same number each year; accept fewer each year; or accept no more?"

Response                %:

Accept more each year    7
Accept about the same
each year               23
Accept fewer each year  30
Accept no more          37
Don't know               3

13 September 1981, National Times, p. 28.
Poll by ANOP.
1004 people interviewed; Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

The ideal Australian population mix: "Thinking of the sorts of people that will make up the Australian population in the future, in an ideal situation what would you prefer?" (A card was shown listing the three below).

Response:                   %:

Basically white English
   speaking backgrounds     55
Mainly European
   backgrounds              13
A mixture of races
   and cultures             30
Unsure                       2

(Author's note: Total response favouring a population of those of British/European backgrounds was 68%).

"Thinking about immigration as a whole, do you believe the Federal Government is letting too many people into Australia, or too few, or about the right number?"

Response:                 %:

Too many                  45
Too few                   11
About the right number    37
Unsure                     7

"Referring now just to Asian immigration, do you believe the Federal Government is letting too many Asian people into Australia, or too few, or about the right number?"

Response:                  %:

Too many                   48
Too few                     8
About the right number     36
Unsure                      8

19 May 1984, The Herald, p. 1.
Poll by Australian Public Opinion Poll (The Gallup Method).
2053 people interviewed, nationwide, May 1984.

"In 1984 about 90,000 migrants in total will be allowed to come and live in Australia, mostly relatives of previous migrants. Do you think this is: Too many migrants? Or too few migrants? Or about the right number?"

Response:         %:

Too many          64
Too few            4
About right       27

Don't know         5

"An increasing proportion of migrants are coming from Asia compared with the United Kingdom and Europe. Do you approve or disapprove of this?"

Response:         %:

Approve           30
Disapprove        62

Don't know         8

17 July 1984, The Bulletin, pp. 29-30.
Poll by Morgan Gallup Poll (Finding No. 1203).
About 2000 people interviewed, nationwide, June 1984.

"People surveyed were told that in the next 12 months from July about 72,000 people will come to Australia to live permanently. People were then asked:
In your opinion, are 72,000 people too few, too many or about right?"

Response:         %:

Too many          62
About right       27
Too few            4
No opinion         7

Those who said "Too many" were asked "About how many do you favour in the next 12 months?"

Response:                %:

None                     20
     1 -  9 999           2
10 000 - 19 999           4
20 000 - 29 999           3
30 000 - 39 999          11
40 000 - 49 999           2
50 000 - 59 999           4
60 000 - 69 999           *
70 000 - 79 999           *
80 000 - 89 999           -
90 000 - 92 999           -
Can't say                16

Total favour fewer       62

* = Fewer than 1 percent

"People were then told that of the 72,000 people who will come here in the next 12 months about 24,000 will be Asians who will be given permanent resident status in Australia. People were then asked: In your opinion, are 24,000 Asians too few, too many or about right?"

Response:          %:

Too many           59
About right        30
Too few             4
No opinion          7

Those who said "Too many" were asked "About how many do you favour in the next 12 months?"

Response:                %:

No Asians                23
     1 -  9 999          10
10 000 - 19 999          14
20 000 - 23 000           1
Can't say                11

Total favour fewer       59

27 August 1984, The Age
Poll by Irving Saulwick and Associates.
2000 people interviewed, nationwide, July 1984.

"Australia should accept as migrants:"

Response:                  %:

Suitable migrants
   from any country        37
Those who have the
   skills we need          36
People who have
   relatives here          24
Refugees                   18
People with money
   to invest here          15
Europeans only              6
Australia should not
   accept any migrants
   at the present time     34
Don't know/Not stated       2

27 August 1984, The Herald, pp. 1, 3.
Poll by Australian Public Opinion Poll (The Gallup Method).
2182 people interviewed, nationwide, August 1984.

"A decreasing proportion of migrants are coming from the United Kingdom and Europe compared with Asia. Do you approve or disapprove of this?"

Response:         %:

Approve           28
Disapprove        60

Don't know        12

3 February 1988, The Australian, p. 2.
Poll by Newspoll
1150 people, interviewed by telephone, nationwide, 29-31 January 1988.

"Do you personally agree or disagree with these statements about Australia's immigration policy?":

"Australia's immigration policy should favour Asian immigration because of our Pacific region location"

Response:         %:

Agree             17
Disagree          75
Uncommitted        8

"Australia should hold a national referendum on immigration policy"

Response:         %:

Agree             70
Disagree          22
Uncommitted        8

9 August 1988, The Australian, p. 1.
Poll by Newspoll.
1150 people, interviewed by telephone, nationwide, 5-7 August 1988.

"Do you agree or disagree with the recent statement by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Howard, that Asian immigration to Australia should be slowed down? If agree, is that strongly agree or only partly agree? If disagree, is that strongly disagree or partly disagree?"

Response:              %:

Strongly agree         51
Partly agree           26
      Total agree            77

Partly disagree        10
Strongly disagree       8
      Total disagree         18

Neither/Don't know      5

27 September 1988, The Bulletin, p. 17.
Morgan Gallup Poll (Finding No. 1755).
1277 people interviewed, Australia-wide, mid-August 1988.

"People surveyed were told that last year about 143,000 people came to Australia to live permanently. They were then asked: In your opinion, were 143,000 people too few, too many, or about right?"

Response:            %:

Too many             46
About right          42
Too few               7
No opinion            5

Those who said "Too many" were asked "About how many do you favour each year?"

Response:               %:

None                     8
     1 -  39 999         5
40 000 -  59 999         7
60 000 -  79 999         9
80 000 - 142 999         7
Can't say               10

Total favour fewer      46

"The same people were then told that of the 143,000 people who came here last year, about 49,000 were Asians, who were then given permanent residential status in Australia. People were then asked: In your opinion were 49,000 Asians too few, too many or about right?"

Response:             %:

Too many              57
About right           34
Too few                3
No opinion             6

Those who said "Too many" were asked "About how many do you favour each year?"

None                   14
     1 -  9 999         6
10 000 - 19 999         9
20 000 - 29 999        14
30 000 - 48 999         4
Can't say              10

Total favour fewer     57

12 September 1989, The Bulletin, p. 21.
Poll by Morgan Gallup Poll
1071 people interviewed, nationwide, August 1989.

"145 000 immigrants last year were:"

Response:            %:

Too many             47
About right          41
Too few               8
No opinion            4

"55 00 Asian immigrants last year was:"

Response:            %:

Too many             58
About right          33
Too few               3
No opinion            6

13 May 1990, The Sun, p. 2.
Poll by Roy Morgan Research Centre.
818 people interviewed, 10 May 1990.

"Present immigration program is seriously aggravating Australia's economic problems:"

Response                  %:

Strongly disagree         39
Mostly agree              27
Total agree               66

Mildly disagree           17
Strongly disagree         11
Total disagree            28

Can't say                  6

"Attitude to reducing immigration in Australia's present difficult economic situation:"

Response                         %: 

Favour immigration being
stopped (only special cases)     18
Reduced significantly            51
Total favour reduce or stop      69

Oppose reduction in immigration  27
Can't say                         4

"Attitude to Government limits on numbers of migrants from particular countries:"

Response             %:

Yes, should          70
No, should not       28
Can't say             2

"The multi- function polis is:"

Response             %:

Good idea            27
Bad idea             52
Can't say            21

"Overseas investors ownership of land in Australia?:"

Response                %:

Should be allowed       27
Should not              67
Can't say                6

"Concerned about the level of Japanese ownership:"

Response                %:

Concerned               77
Not concerned           21
Can't say                2

4 November 1991, The Age, p. 3.
Poll by Irving Saulwick and Associates. 1000 people interviewed by telephone, nationwide, 23-24 October 1991.

"Over the past four years Australia's intake of immigrants has averaged numbers 132,000 a year. The target for this financial year is 111,000. Do you think that Australia should take: more than 111,000 immigrants this year, about 111,000 immigrants, fewer than 111,000 immigrants, or take no immigrants this year?"

Response                 %:

More than 111,000         9
About 111,000            16
Fewer than 111,000       46
No immigrants            27
Don't know                2

Of those who preferred to take fewer than 111,000 the following question was also asked: "You say that you would prefer fewer than 111,000 immigrants this year. In taking this position, which of the following considerations concerns you most: unemployment at the present time, or population pressure on resources and the environment, or higher levels of immigration may lead to social tension?"

Response                      %:

Unemployment                  76
Pressure on resources         13
Social tension                10
Don't know                     1

"If you were choosing immigrants, who would you favour most: immigrants with money to invest, immigrants with skills we need, immigrants with family in Australia, or immigrants who are refugees?"

Response                    %:

With money to invest        15
With skills we need         56
With family here            14
Refugees                    10
Don't know                   5

"Which of these statements comes closest to your view: Australia is a country with rich resources and will benefit from immigration and a larger population; or immigration will lead to a growth in population that will put too much strain on Australia's land and resources?"

Response                     %:

We benefit                   39
It strains resources         56
Don't know                    5

19 June 1996, The Age, p. 2.
Poll by AGB McNair.
2063 people interviewed by telephone, nationwide, 14-16 June 1996.

"Do you feel that the current level of immigration to Australia is too high, too low or about right?"

Response:         %:

Too high          65
Too low            3
About right       30
Don't know         3

"Do you feel that the current balance of migrants from different countries and regions to Australia is about right or do you feel that we receive too many migrants from a particular region or country?"

Response:                   %:

About right                 35
Too many from regions       51
Don't know                  14

"If too many. Which region(s) do you feel that we receive too many migrants from?"

Response:            %:

Asia                 88
Middle East           9
All                   5
Other                 3
Europe                3
UK, Ireland           2
New Zealand           1
Pacific               1

"Successive Australian governments have adopted a policy of multiculturalism. This involves encouraging migrants to become Australians without having to give up their own culture. Do you agree or disagree with this policy?"

Response:                    %:

Strong agree                 21
Agree                        40
Disagree                     21
Strongly disagree            13
Neither agree nor disagree    5

Note: The built-in bias of the above question is clearly evident - see the introductory notes in the preface to this section.

4 October 1996, The Australian, p. 4.
Poll by Newspoll.
1200 people, interviewed by telephone, nationwide, 27-29 September 1996.

"Thinking now about immigration. Do you personally think that the total number of migrants coming into Australia each year is too high, too low or about right? If too high - is that a lot too high or a little too high? If too low - is that a lot too low or a little too low?"

Response                %:

A lot too high          52
A little too high       19
Total too high          71

A little too low         1
A lot too low            1
Total too low            2

About right             20

Uncommitted              7