Migrants prepare to cast their first ballots

It was once thought that the political views of immigrants were often shaped by homeland experiences.

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That may have been the case with Eastern and southern European post war migration, but recent research suggests it’s not the case now.

Since the last federal election in 2007, Australia’s largest intake of migrants has come from India, China and New Zealand.

Dr Bob Birrell says how they’ll vote is dependant on their occupation and social class rather than their ethnic background.

Twenty-three-year old Aditya Singh came to Australia six years ago as a student. With help from his parents who still live in Agra in northern India, Aditya now owns two bottle shops in Melbourne. He and his wife will vote for the first time in the forthcoming federal election.

Mr Singh says his business is the main issue that’ll affect the way he votes.

“I’m going to definitely think about all the taxes, alcohol and cigarette taxes affecting my business, the previous government put about 30% tax on alcohol and cigarettes, so not really working out for me,” he told SBS. “Apparently they think its going to stop binge drinking and all that stuff, it’s not really affected at all, so Liberal always good for the small business.”

Demographers say voting patterns of economic migrants as opposed to refugees forced to flee their homeland will also vary.

Jenaro Deng is also a first time voter, having arrived from Sudan under the Federal Government’s humanitarian program seven years ago.

The father of six is currently enrolled in an English literacy program. He says the issues that’ll determine his vote are his children’s education and immigration opportunities for his countrymen.

For the Australian Electoral Commission one concern is migrants wasting votes by not filling out their ballots correctly and so they’ve launched how to vote sessions to make people get it right.


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