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Voters ranked refugee issues last among important issues in 2022 federal election

Refugee issues had less political potency in the 2022 Federal Election than in previous elections over the past 21 years, according to the 2022 Australian Election Study published by the Australian National University (ANU) and Griffith University. 

Based on a detailed post-election survey of 2,508 voters, the Australian Election Study found that voters ranked refugee and asylum seeker issues last in a list of 11 election issues. Just 1% of respondents regarded refugee issues as the most important issue in the 2022 election campaign, well behind the cost of living, economic management, global warming, health and taxation. 

 Figure 1: 2022 most important election issue by percentage of AES respondents AES Figure 1Source: 2022 Australian Election Study Results, p 9. 

The ranking of refugee issues has declined since 2001 when 13% of respondents regarded refugee issues as the most important issue in the election campaign (Figure 2). 

Figure 2: 2001-22 refugees and asylum seekers ranking as most important issue by percentage of AES respondents AES Figure 2Source: Trends in Australian Political Opinion Report 1987– 2022, p 35. 

Boat turnbacks 

The policy of turning back boats was still widely supported in 2022 although the level of support has declined over the past 21 years. 44% of respondents supported the boat turn backs policy, 29% opposed it and 27% did not have an opinion.  

Figure 3: 2001-22 support and opposition of boat turn backs by percentage of AES respondents AES Figure 3Source: Trends in Australian Political Opinion Report 1987– 2022, p 126. 

More support for Labor’s refugee policies  

There was more support in 2022 for the Labor Party’s refugee policies than the Liberal-National Coalition’s refugee policies. 36% of respondents said Labor’s policies came closer to their views, 32% preferred the Coalition’s policies, and 32% said there was no difference between the major parties’ policies on refugee issues (Figure 4).  

Figure 4: 2001-22 preferences for Labor or Coalition policies on ‘refugee and asylum seekers’ by percentage of AES respondents AES Figure 4Source:  Trends in Australian Political Opinion Report 1987– 2022, p 43.

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