Polling undertaken by UMR Research earlier this month in the electorates of Lyne and New England found a majority of voters rejected the program, irrespective of whether they identified as independent, Labor or Coalition voters.
Strong majorities in both electorates approved of the federal government’s new restrictions on temporary overseas workers.
CFMEU national assistant secretary Dave Noonan said the results were unambiguous.
“In many regional communities it is a part of people’s lived experience to know young Australians miss out on training and employment opportunities in favour of vulnerable and easily exploited temporary foreign labour,” he said.
“People don’t like it, they think that apprenticeships and jobs for young Australians should be the priority.
“Politicians ignore clear findings like this at their peril.”
Of 300 enrolled voters polled in the electorate of New England, 53% opposed the 457 visa scheme and similar schemes, while only 37% approved.
Opposition was strongest among women, older voters, blue-collar voters and those who felt under financial pressure.
Support for new federal government restrictions on the 457 scheme was 62% while only 25% opposed.
In the electorate of Lyne with the same sample size of voters, 63% opposed the scheme and only 31% approved.
In Lyne opposition was strongest among women, middle-aged voters, those under financial pressure and blue-collar workers.
Of those polled in Lyne, 68% supported the federal government crackdown while only 23% opposed.
Both electorates overwhelmingly rejected any assertion that disapproval of temporary foreign worker schemes was somehow racist, with only 8% of Lyne voters and 5% of New England voters nominating racism as the cause of community unease.
Overwhelming majorities (87% in Lyne and 83% in New England) felt the criticism was genuine concern about protecting the conditions of Australian workers and providing job opportunities for young Australians.
The Australian Mines and Metals Association says a government plan to legislate changes to the 457 temporary skilled migration visa scheme disregards the country’s economic interests and international reputation.
The comment comes as rhetoric by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor amplifies over changes to the foreign worker program, which may include strengthening requirements for shortages and demonstrations of employer commitment to training locals.
AMMA is calling the move short-sighted, baseless and an attempt to maintain union support for a parliament in its dying days.
“Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor may be determined to deliver for his trade union mates in the face of all facts and reason but the wider community is simply not buying into the government's borderline xenophobic political campaign,” AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said.