It’s the climate, not immigration, that keeps Australians awake at night

The Scanlon Foundation’s annual report on social cohesion finds a country still largely welcoming of migrants, although 40% hold negative feelings towards Muslims

Something happened in 2017. Australia is second only to Canada in welcoming immigration on a large scale. Our faith in the benefits of accepting newcomers of all faiths and races is rock solid. But a couple of years ago we began to grow impatient about the government’s management of the immigration program, impatient in particular about overcrowding in our cities.

This is the verdict of the Scanlon Foundation’s 2019 Mapping Social Cohesion report, published on Tuesday. The mission of the foundation for the past decade or so has been to measure how this migrant nation hangs together. In that time an extraordinary 50,000 of us have been polled to track the hopes and fears that sweep Australia – and not just about immigration.

Related: Scott Morrison and the big lie about climate change: does he think we’re that stupid? | Richard Flanagan

The education line cuts across the immigration debate like a mighty trench

90% of us have a sense of belonging to this place.

87% are proud of the Australian way of life.

85% agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia.

84% report having a happy 2019.

80% welcome resettlement in Australia of refugees assessed abroad.

79% oppose selecting immigrants by race.

73% believe Australia is a land of economic opportunity where, in the long run, hard work brings a better life.

71% believe globalisation is good for the country.

68% believe accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger.

62% are optimistic about Australia’s future.

61% of Australians disapprove of asylum seekers making their way here by boat.

47% of us have little or no concern about the treatment we mete out to asylum seekers in PNG and Nauru.

40% in 2019 admit negative or very negative feelings towards Muslims.

The fundamentals are sound, even as about one in 10 of us continue to rage against this new Australia of many faiths and many cultures

Only 27% of university graduates say Australia takes too many immigrants, but for those who never finished high school the figure is 70%.

Nearly 90% of graduates applaud multiculturalism but only 61% of those who never finished school.

Among graduates, 58% worry we treat refugees too harshly, but their fears are shared by only 32% of who never finished school.

While a rump of 14% of graduates still wish immigrants could be chosen by race, support for the old White Australia position more than doubles to 35% who never finished school.

Related: Behrouz Boochani, brutalised but not beaten by Manus, says simply: ‘I did my best’

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