Asylum seekers are a major issue for South Australia’s voters, despite being off the local political agenda almost entirely, according to new data released by Google.
Search engine data indicates South Australians searched for “asylum seekers” more than any other state on a per-search basis in the past 12 months.
SA searchers used the term ‘refugee’ – as opposed to ‘boat people’ and ‘illegal immigrant’ – significantly more often in their search terms than other states.
According to the Google data West Australian searchers were the most likely to include ‘boat people’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ in their search terms.
Monash University’s professor Andrew Markus, who is currently researching trends in public attitudes to asylum seekers, told the ABC the data was indicative of a deep divide in opinion between different states.
“You can group Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales on the one hand, who are most likely to be negative, and lower levels of negativity in Victoria and South Australia, ” professor Markus told the ABC last week.
“It supports the existing knowledge, and that is that western Australians are the most likely to be viewing the issue negatively.
“About 20 to 25 per cent, so let’s say a quarter of people are positive to asylum seekers and want to have them eligible for permanent settlement in Australia. But a larger a proportion, at least 40 per cent of people, are very strongly negative, so it’s an issue that deeply divides the electorate.”
Local politicians across the spectrum agreed asylum seekers were a significant local issue.
“People are definitely concerned by the chaos on our borders and the massive budget blow outs in the immigration portfolio thanks to Kevin Rudd’s failed border protection policies, ” Mayo MP Jamie Briggs, whose southern electorate takes in the Inverbrackie Detention Centre, told InDaily.
“The Inverbrackie detention centre, which costs tens of millions of dollars to run each year, stands as a constant reminder of Labor’s failed policies and the massive budget blow outs.”
Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young – currently up for relection – said many South Australians felt let down by the refugee policies offered by the Liberal and Labor parties.
“There are thousands of South Australians who care about refugees and many of them feel like they’ve been let down by the old parties and their race to the bottom on refugee cruelty, ” she said.
“Week after week since Kevin Rudd announced the government’s shameful and cruel PNG deal, the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide have been filled with protesters speaking up for refugees.
“While Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are rushing to the polls on the back of cruelty, the Greens are standing up and offering a better way. We want to see refugees given a safer pathway to protection in Australia.”
Sourced from InDaily - Adelaide Independent News
By Liam Mannix 7/8/2013