Gillard's foreign worker attack hits home but doesn't help her
Julia Gillard's 2013 claim that foreigners are pushing Australians to the back of the jobs queue appears to have been deliberately targeted at a specific group of voters with new research showing four out of 10 people believe there are too many foreigners admitted under the skilled temporary migration visa program.
But the Prime Minister's aggressive stance, announced in western Sydney earlier this month and quickly backed in by Pauline Hanson, has failed to kick-start a recovery in Labor's dwindling support base.
Recent opposition attacks on asylum seekers also appear to have been carefully crafted to speak to a strong suburban hostility to outsiders, according to a new poll.
Exclusive research undertaken as part of the Fairfax Nielsen poll shows the parties, both of whom have been accused of dog whistling on race, are courting a new more insular community sentiment with 39 per cent of ALP voters and 41 per cent of Coalition voters saying there are too many overseas workers in Australia.
The nationwide telephone poll of 1400 voters between Thursday and Saturday asked people to grade whether there were ''too many'' foreign workers being allowed in, ''too few'' or the ''right amount''.
Thirty-three per cent answered that the number was about right and another 4 per cent said there were too few.
The polling comes as the government cracks down on alleged rorts in the 457 temporary visa program, announcing on Monday a plan to use the Fair Work Ombudsman to expose ''rogue employers'' exploiting the section-457 foreign worker scheme.
The Fair Work Ombudsman's 300 inspectors will be handed new powers to police foreign worker contracts and workplaces.
The poll also showed a high proportion of Australians believe police and neighbours should be advised about the prospect of asylum seekers being housed in the community.
Six out of 10 people believe the police should be informed when asylum seekers move to their area, and nearly 48 per cent, said neighbours also should be told. Among Coalition voters, the number wanting neighbours informed was 59 per cent.
Coalition migration spokesman Scott Morrison touched off a controversy last month when he used a single case of an asylum seeker charged with an indecent assault to call for tougher monitoring of asylum seekers on community release, including the possibility of some form of ''behavioural protocols''.
While Opposition Leader Tony Abbott backed his spokesman, several other colleagues distanced themselves from the comments. But the polling suggests Mr Morrison had the majority of the community behind him, even if the party room was not.
Refugee and asylum seeker advocates were similarly offended by Labor's appeal for what many see as the xenophobic vote.
But if that is what Ms Gillard is chasing, the Fairfax Nielsen poll offered mixed results showing on the one hand, that many people are against the 457 skilled migration scheme, but, on the other, that they remain determined to change the government at the September 14 election.
Labor's primary vote did not significantly improve during the month when Ms Gillard's ''Aussie'' jobs first campaign began and it languishes at just 31 per cent, with the Coalition on 47 per cent, according to the poll.