AUSTRALIANS are spooked by record high immigration and also believe the country is increasingly racist, according to an exclusive Sunday Mail poll by Galaxy. Two-thirds of respondents – 66 per cent – think the Federal Government should cap immigration rates. Of these, 72 per cent of Australians polled favour an immigration cap, while 55 per cent of those who live here but do not consider themselves Australian also favoured an immigration cap.

Leading immigration expert Dr Bob Birrell said the figures show “the tide is turning”. “It’s a significant finding because it suggests public discussion of congestion and house prices may be beginning to bite,” Dr Birrell said yesterday.

In the past four to five years, polling indicated Australians were reasonably comfortable with immigration levels, which are based on a Government target of around 190,000 a year.

The results come as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott used an Australia Day Council address during the week to raise immigration issues, stand by the tough stance on boat arrivals in the Howard era and suggest he favoured more migration to boost our population. “My instinct is to extend to as many people as possible the freedom and benefits of life in Australia,” Mr Abbott said.

Dr Birrell said the economic shock of the global financial crisis, increasing house prices and continuing controversy over illegal immigration would have played a part in changing opinions. He also pointed to the fact that only 55 per cent of non-Australians were in favour of an immigration cap, compared to 72 per cent of locally-born Australians. Dr Birrell said Australian-born people took a more negative view of immigration, because they did not like their culture threatened by change. “(Many people) like things the way they were when they came into this world. Some see it as a threat to their inherited culture,” he said.

More than half the respondents felt Australia had changed for the worse in the past 20 years. But the poll also shows we’re basically happy with our flag, our national anthem, and with the standard of living.

Galaxy polled 1000 residents nationwide on Thursday and Friday, and found that we rate meat pies as our favourite national dish and think Australian history lessons should be compulsory in secondary schools….

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