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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia is a migrant nation, but one-in-10 citizens are "racial supremacists" despite racism generally waning, says a 10-year study.
The study of around 12,500 people over almost a decade found New South Wales state, counting Sydney, had the most people holding racist views, with 46 percent of respondents believing some ethnic groups did not belong in modern Australian society.
"More than 80 percent of people see cultural diversity as a benefit and that's a good thing for Australian society," lead researcher Kevin Dunn told local radio.
"Probably only one in 10 we would call racial supremacists. They believe in racism, that some are inferior and superior to others," Dunn said. The survey was conducted by the University of Western Sydney.
The national capital Canberra, with 28 percent, contained the smallest proportion of people with such opinions, which researchers said was probably due to its high average wealth and education levels.
Muslims were the group singled out by most respondents as not fitting with Australian society after controversies involving Islamic clerics and the Muslim community which led the former conservative government to introduce a citizenship values test.
"It's an indicator of a narrow view of what constitutes Australianism," Dunn said.
Australia is a nation of migrants, with nearly one-in-four born overseas. It has a population of 21 million people.
The booming economy, which has been growing at more than 4 percent annually, is facing shortages of skilled labor, pushing up wages and stoking inflationary pressures.
Dunn said older people tended to be more uncomfortable with other ethnic groups than younger Australians, many of whom had traveled or grown up alongside people born overseas.
"Younger Australians who have grown up in a nation that has been defined as multicultural and been through schooling systems where there's been quite strong efforts on community relations-building and tolerance-building have much more tolerant views," he said.
Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Valerie Lee