Illegal immigrants: The disease threat to Australia

Despite all the politics and promises, the fact remains thousands of people continue to arrive illegally in Australia and many more await the opportunity to make the trip.

They’ve been called asylum seekers, economic refugees, unauthorised arrivals and country shoppers, but whatever one might call this threat to Australia, knowledge of one particular serious danger has been largely denied the Australian people. That is the issue of diseases that also arrive with the un-invited.

It should be noted that arriving with claims for ‘Asylum’ allows access to Australia by people with diseases that prevent such access by anyone wishing to migrate through legitimate means!

Boat arrivals have brought diseases that have overwhelmed medical resources, financially and otherwise, and yet this ever present costly danger is conveniently overlooked.

I have warned of this imported disease time-bomb for years – here is a speech I wrote and delivered in Parliament on June 19 2002.

Given the tens of thousands, in just the last few years, who have arrived by boat from life threatening disease ridden places, the deadly cost of this issue is even more outstanding today!

The Hon. DAVID OLDFIELD [10.38 p.m.]: Last week I put on the record various facts to bring perspective to the pervading nonsense about the emotional hype generated in support of those whom I have termed “asylum-class tourists”. On the same theme it is also appropriate to consider the terrible effect of ill-considered immigration and multicultural policies pursued by governments without consultation. These policies have resulted directly in social and health problems of a magnitude so great that recovery may not be realistically achievable. One cannot fix a problem one refuses to acknowledge. Although the public at large is greatly impacted by horrendous problems such as ethnic crime and imported diseases, no government has moved to resolve the issue. Instead we have seen the cowardly approach of political correctness result in ineffective treatments and no cures.

Without dramatic changes to immigration and the removal of multiculturalism in favour of assimilation and integration, the future is bleak. Successive Australian governments of both political persuasions imported those who were clearly going to have difficulty assimilating. This problem could have been overcome given time and the right approach. However, the introduction of multiculturalism, and hence the removal of any need to assimilate, has destroyed any chance of a cohesive society. Even John Howard noted in 1988 that multiculturalism tended to highlight people’s differences rather than unite them. It is a shame that the Prime Minister no longer makes such concerns public.

As to immigration—albeit supposedly legitimate or otherwise—undoubtedly the issue about which the Australian people are most uninformed is the level of government-sponsored imported disease. One of the best examples is hepatitis B, which until about 25 years ago was virtually unheard of in Australia. Today Australia has over 400,000 carriers of hepatitis B. Each year another 30,000 people are infected and 1,200 die. This disease on its own is estimated to cost the health budget $100 million every year. In 1992 a medical team tested 2,290 inner-city Sydney school children aged between 12 and 14. The result should have been headline news for every newspaper, radio and television station in Australia, but, like so much bad news on immigration, especially 10 years ago, the report never saw the light of day in the mainstream press. Of the 2,290 children, 27 per cent of all those born overseas were carrying tuberculosis. In contrast, only 1 per cent of Australian-born children were carrying the disease. Even so, 1 per cent for Australian-born children was considered very high.

The campaign in Australia in the middle of last century to eradicate tuberculosis was essentially successful, yet in 1992 conclusive research clearly showed that a large proportion of Sydney’s overseas-born children were tuberculosis carriers. These terrible facts, which have been largely hidden from the Australian people, are not my facts; rather, they come from Monash University demography papers, People and Places, and the Australian Medical Journal.

Should we discriminate on the basis of political correctness? Certainly to choose not to discriminate on the basis of political correctness is to discriminate against Australians who are already living in this country and are as yet uninfected. A couple of years ago an illegal immigrant with tuberculosis was tracked down on the Queensland Gold Coast, and the only reason the authorities caught up with him was because he died—funnily enough, of tuberculosis. This particular highly infectious illegal immigrant was working in a shop and his death resulted in the health department having to screen an estimated 300 people who were understood to have come into contact with his coughing and spluttering. That man was an illegal immigrant and should not have been in Australia. That point is clear. But what of the thousands like him roaming free? What diseases are they spreading?

If not for any other reason, mandatory detention of so-called asylum seekers is of paramount importance for health screening to protect the Australian population. We should not allow political correctness or misplaced compassion to cause us to ignore the fact that many of those illegally entering Australia come from places where hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and AIDS are so prevalent that it is very common for them to have at least one of these infectious and deadly diseases.


  1. I think this illegal immigration issue needs a combined approach from all major countries in the Asia Pacific region and the Indian Ocean.

    A few years ago, there were talks of forming an anti-pirate strike force, comprising naval ships to counter piracy in the afore mentioned areas. Perhaps this force, could also focus on boats sailing/drifting on the high seas.

    1. Thanks DNS. Can’t see any reasonable person disagreeing, but of course where asylum seekers are concerned, the only place they really want to get to is Australia, so the rest of the region isn’t breaking their necks to help us with what is seen as our problem.

  2. David there is yet another side to the problems of illegal immigration, and that it the danger of people unknowingly bringing in the animal disease of foot & mouth. Our authorities know it is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ this terrible disease is detected in Australia. This is one of the reasons it is critical we have electronic eartag identification across all of our sheep population, as well as across cattle. However we are going to find it infinately harder to identify and track all of our wild animal population, such as deer, pigs, horses and goats, should they come into contact with the disease.
    In 2001 the estimated financial impact of a foot & mouth outbreak in Australia was a loss of between $7.1billion to $16billion to our eceonomic bottom line (ABARES). However while these figures are large, they mask what will be happening to individual people, farms, families and communities in areas where every hoofed animal will be destroyed, generations of breeding can be lost, livelihoods decimated.
    This disease is prevalent in the Middle East, Asia, Africa & South America.

    1. Thank you Nicola. I was unaware of that threat as posed by illegal immigration. Appreciate your informative post.

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