Pauline Hanson in 1996

We know that One Nation and its supporters are fact-resistant — earlier this week, new Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts repeated easily disproven lies that form the basis of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But sometimes their fact aversion serves to undermine the very point they’re trying to making. In her maiden speech in the Senate last night, Pauline Hanson urged an end to immigration:

“Clean up your own backyard before flooding our country with more people who are going to be a drain on our society. I call for a halt to further immigration and look after our aged, sick and helpless first.”

Given immigration is actually a key source of economic growth, this statement makes no sense at all, but that’s Hanson’s usual irrational bigotry. The more substantial problem for Hanson is: who is going to look after our aged, our sick and our helpless?

Step forward … immigrants.

According to the most recent annual statistics from the Department of Immigration, in 2013-14 the third-biggest category for 457 visas in Australia was “health care and social assistance”, with more than 2800 visas issued for workers in that sector.


And that’s continued since then — according to the department’s most recent quarterly report on 457 visas, as at March this year, healthcare and social assistance was the third biggest overall category for 457 visa workers in Australia (excluding the miscellaneous “other industries” category), with more than 9000 doctors, nurses and childcare wrokers on visas looking after young, old and sick Australians. And in case you think that’s a category dominated by au pairs, registered medical officers and GPs are two of the top 10 visa categories — together they form nearly 6% of all 457 visa occupations. Calling a halt to further immigration would be particularly harmful for our aged, sick and helpless, Senator.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey