Australians are evenly divided on Donald Trump’s ban on travel from a group of Muslim-majority nations, according to two polls out today.
The Essential poll of 1014 voters found 41% of Australians supported a “ban on people from Muslim countries from entering Australia”. That compared with 46% who opposed a ban and 14% who didn’t know.
The Newspoll found that 44% of respondents believe Australia should take similar measures to Trump’s executive order, 45% oppose doing so and 11% were uncommitted.
The executive order suspended visas being issued for 90 days to migrants or travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It stopped all refugee arrivals into the US for 120 days and banned Syrian refugees indefinitely. It has been suspended following a number of court challenges, and more tha 100 of the world’s biggest companies, based in the US, have joined court action against it.
There has been no poll taken in New Zealand, but prime minister Bill English spoke to Trump yesterday – Waitangi Day, the national day of Aotearoa.
English said, “We had a discussion about our relevant views on the immigration ban.
“I just said what I have said publicly: that we don’t agree with the policy and it’s not something we would put in place, and noted that accommodation had been made for New Zealand dual passport holders.
“I think he just noted our views, I don’t think that he’s surprised by people having a different view.”
Across the Tasman, the Essential poll found support for a travel ban on Muslim countries was highest among voters of “other” parties, with 66% in favour and 25% opposed. Government voters were the next most likely to support it, with 48% in favour and 38% opposed.
A majority of Labor voters were against a ban, with 59% opposed and 31% in favour. Greens voters were most opposed with 75% against a ban and just 15% in favour.
Asked specifically whether they approved of Trump’s executive order, the Essential poll found support fell to 36%, disapproval was 49% and 14% remained undecided.
The Newspoll, which questioned 1734 voters, found support highest among Government voters, with 52% backing the travel ban, compared with 39% opposed and 9% uncommitted.
The results are broadly in line with a September Essential poll that found 49% of Australians backed a ban on Muslim migration, while 40% opposed the idea.
That poll followed One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s first Senate speech in which she claimed Australia was in danger of being swamped by Muslims and called for a ban on migration to Australia by Muslims.
Some members of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government have lent support to Trump’s ban, with former immigration minister Scott Morrison claiming the rest of the world was now catching up with Australia’s harsh immigration policies and MP George Christensen calling it “a sensible policy for national security in the present climate.”
Turnbull has refused to denounce the Trump ban because he claimed it was US domestic policy.
The Essential poll found 53% of voters agreed with Turnbull’s response, 36% disagreed with it and 12% were undecided.
In Australia thousands of people attended weekend protests denouncing the ban and demanding an end to Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers.