12 Mar 2007

This is a light post, because its subject-matter is a couple of internet polls on smh.com.au. Internet polls are of course pretty much useless – self-selecting samples are completely unscientific, not to mention the imbalances caused by only polling those who visit smh.com.au. Still, smh.com.au polls can normally be relied upon to sit to the left of centre, with some exceptions. The most recent two polls in connection with the state election turned up results that at least demand real attention. Yesterday's was on a Democrats proposal to abolish the states. I wouldn't have thought this would be a very mainstream idea, but the 1789 votes were two-thirds for abolition and on-third against.

A more worrying poll result is today's, about Fred Nile's call for a moratorium on Muslim migration. 49% agree with him. 10% correctly state that this is not a state issue (migration policy is of course administered federally, whereas Nile is a state parliamentarian). Only 41% disagree, out of 3244 IP addresses. Given that the Herald tends to poll relatively-left, though disproportinately-Anglo, opinion, one wonders what the hoi polloi think on this issue – presumably they back Nile fairly strongly.

Nile's suggestion is, of course, fairly ridiculous: the practical exigencies of excluding only Muslim migrants are unassailable. Will people be banned from bringing non-Australian Muslim family members into the country? This not only attacks migration, but devalues the rights of Muslim Australian citizens. Will skilled Muslim migrants be disallowed on the basis of their religion? Are skilled migrants really a problem? And how will their religion be determined? Muslim refugees presumably will be disallowed, regardless of their need, which is going to be pretty difficult to enforce, considering that Nile wants Australia to slacken migration controls on Christians from the very same countries.

The fact of course is that at present in Australia, Muslims tend to occupy a low socio-economic position because large numbers of Muslims were allowed into the country as a wave of refugees during the Lebanese Civil War who were relatively poor and uneducated and hence tended to settle towards the bottom of Australian society. A similar effect is visible among Vietnamese migrants. Muslim migrants to Australia today are, by contrast, like all migrants filtered through a much harsher migration regime, which attempts to ensure that migrants are better than the current average Australian. Hence there are no calls to restrict Asian immigration these days, since the Chinese and Indian migrants of recent years tend to be prosperous, educated (often Australian-educated) and well-behaved. Nile's disgusting premise is that it is Islam that has made Lebanese migration a social problem, and thus that any Muslim migrant, whether they are an illiterate refugee or a cardiologist, is a danger to Australia.