Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
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Refugees and migrants amongst 300,000 new voters

1 July 20160 comments

Tomorrow, Hashmat Najib will vote for the first time in his life in the 2016 federal election.

The 22 year old is a refugee and an ethnic Hazara and would never have been allowed to vote in his homeland of Afghanistan nor in Pakistan where his family sought refuge from the bloody Afghan civil war.

Hashnat Najid

Hashmat Najib

“It’s important to me that I can vote because this country has a very good political system where everyone is equal,” Hashmat said this week.

“This issues that are important for me are immigration and refugees because I don’t believe that we should be demonising vulnerable people. We should treat people fairly.

“Climate change and environment is also important for our futures and for the futures of our children.

“And as a student education is a very important issue to me and for the country’s future,” said Hashmat who is studying Business Management.

Hashmat’s comments come as a new survey has found most newly-arrived migrants and refugees believe in low taxes, leaving the GST rate where it is and that Australia is still a land where hard work is rewarded.

But they also believe in climate change, putting the environment before the economy, affordable health care and marriage equality, the survey found.

The survey, titled: ‘Political Opinions: Findings from a short survey of AMEP students’, asked a series questions about Australia’s economy, government and society of more than 300 new migrants studying advanced levels of English.

Commissioned by settlement agency AMES Australia, it found that most respondents (40 per cent) think high taxes hurt the economy while 25 per cent said they didn’t and 35 per cent weren’t sure.

The highest number of respondents (46 per cent) said a 15 per cent GST was not reasonable while 20 per cent said it was.

And 47 per cent of respondents said Australia should raise taxes on the rich while 28 per cent disagreed.

An overwhelming 84 per cent said agreed that Australia was “a land of opportunity where if you work hard you will have a better life” while just 6 per cent disagreed.

But 45 per cent said that a strong economy was not more important that environmental issues while 35 per cent said it was.

The survey found 84 per cent agreed that Australians should have a right to affordable health care. And 49 per cent agreed the government should help needy people even if it meant going deeper into debt compared to 34 per cent who disagreed.

A massive 90 per cent were able to name the current Prime Minister but only 12 per cent said they had contacted a local politician or councillor about issues that concerned them.

The respondents, from more than 30 countries, were also asked about aspects of Australian society.

Thirty-five per cent of respondents favoured Australia becoming a republic while 24 per cent said we should keep the status quo and 41 per cent weren’t sure.

A majority (52 per cent) said Australia should have marriage equality while 30 per cent were against the move.

Eight-two per cent agreed that humans have caused climate change while 9 per cent disagreed.

A similar number (80 per cent) said that trade unions were necessary to protect worker.

Almost three quarters of respondents (74 per cent) said that if a charity they supported asked them for a donation that they would be able to give them money.

AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said the findings were interesting because they showed most new comers to Australia had an emotional and intellectual investment in their new country.

“What this survey shows is that new-comers to Australia care about the country and have an investment in the society and its success,” Ms Scarth said.

“I think what it also shows is that for many people from other parts of the world, Australia’s civic society; our democracy and out institutions are important and to be valued,” she said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist