Survey Backs Rudd’s Asylum Seeker Stance

Survey backs Rudd's asylum seeker stance
April 28, 2009

Nearly half the population believes Kevin Rudd and Labor are best equipped to deal with the recent influx of asylum seekers, a new poll shows.

But just over a third trust the opposition when it comes to border protection, the Essential Research poll released on Tuesday shows.

Eight vessels have been intercepted on their way to Australia so far this year, but the survey shows the issue isn't denting the prime minister's popularity.

Some 46 per cent of Australians say they trust Mr Rudd and Labor to handle border protection. Just 34 per cent said they'd be more comfortable with Malcolm Turnbull and the coalition in charge of immigration policy.

That gives the government a 12 point lead on the issue.

The poll also found 45 per cent of voters agree with Mr Rudd's argument that the influx is due to global security and economic “push factors” rather than more relaxed border protection.

By contrast, a third say Mr Turnbull is right to say Labor has gone “soft” on asylum seekers and that is the reason for the spike in arrivals.

Essential Research says responses followed party lines, with 77 per cent of Labor voters agreeing with the position Mr Rudd has taken on the issue, and 69 per cent of coalition voters agreeing with Mr Turnbull's stance.

Mr Turnbull on Tuesday called on the government to “immediately” establish an independent inquiry into the recent influx of asylum seekers.

He said it should examine whether Labor was warned that changing Australia's immigration policy could result in more arrivals, and the effectiveness of current policies.

“What we have at the moment is a government which says the massive increase in unlawful boat arrivals has got nothing to do with our change in policy. That defies commonsense,” Mr Turnbull said.