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Abbott the Dragon Slayer: The art of making scary mountains out of molehills

Unless you’ve been on a desert island or in a coma, you’ve heard Tony Abbott boast over and over and over again that:

“We’ve had a lot of really significant achievements over the last year: We stopped the boats. We scrapped the carbon tax. We scrapped the mining tax“

These three issues were a key part of Abbott’s 2013 election campaign. According to Abbott, the mining and carbon taxes were devastating the nation. And stopping asylum seekers was imperative to save lives and protect our borders. These were his top priorities – the dragons threatening our nation must be slain. On day one he would stop the boats and introduce legislation to repeal the carbon tax – to be followed by the mining tax within 100 days – thereby single-handedly saving us all.

Abbott obviously believes that the Australian people still value his dragon-slaying skills today – threatening a few weeks back:

“if Labor came back, the boats would be back; the mining tax would be back; and now we find out that if Labor were to come back, the carbon tax would be back”

It seems fairly clear that Tony Abbott is staking both the credibility and the value of his government around these three key actions, and that he believes they are the criteria by which we should judge his success for the next election. So let’s have a look at what he has really achieved – and who the real winners and losers are.

Axing the Taxes

In his interview with Leigh Sales on the 7:30 report last week, Tony Abbott promoted what his government has done in the last two years, saying:

“The carbon tax, gone. When was the last time a government abolished a tax? The mining tax gone. When was the last time a government abolished a tax?”

Slaying not just one tax dragon – but two! Certainly sounds good – and according to Tony Abbott, it’s a BIG win for the Australian people. But does that stand up to scrutiny?

Slaying the Mining Tax (Killer of  investment and jobs)

“This tax is a great big cudgel that will blow the brains out of the West Australian economy if it goes ahead.” (Tony Abbott, July 2010)

The Mining Tax – a quick primer:
The Minerals Resources Rent Tax was a levy on ‘super profits’ from the mining of iron ore and coal.  It was only applied to companies whose annual profits – profits, not revenue – were in excess of $75 million. It was introduced on 1 July 2012 by the Labor government and repealed by the Liberal government on 2 September 2014.

Abbott’s Claim: repealing the mining tax would lead to Australia being ‘open’ for investment again and more jobs . . .

Prior to ‘axing’ this particular tax, the Abbott government argued that the mining tax had to go because it destroyed foreign investment and cut jobs. Once repealed, Abbott stated that the “big flashing red light over investment in Australia” is now gone. So if Abbott was right, investment in Australia should both have dropped during the time of the mining tax, and picked up since it was repealed.

Not so much.

It turns out that this was just another piece of Abbott-Speak or ‘truthiness’ that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In fact, as ABC business editor Ian Verrender argued recently, if the very similar Petroleum Resources Tax introduced over 25 years ago is anything to go by – which had minimal if any impact on jobs or investment – the Mineral Tax would also have had little or no impact on either investment in Australia or Australian jobs had it been left in place. The reality is that mining companies aren’t all that mobile in their location choices – unlike car companies who can manufacture anywhere, mining companies have to mine where the resources are.

So who are the real winners and losers from the repeal of the Mining Tax?

The winners: the LNP and Big Mining companies

Ironically, one of the biggest winners from the introduction of the mining tax was the Liberal Party themselves. Crikey reported in 2012 that ”the mining tax saw an extraordinary increase in donations to the Coalition that has opened up a huge funding resource for the Liberals” as shown in the following graph:

Crikey1

Data from Crikey article (2012)

The largess of the mining sector towards the LNP continued post 2012. There was over 1.8 million given to the Liberal and National parties in the 2013/2014 financial year from resource and energy companies. By way of contrast, around $450,000 was donated to the Labor party from the same sector over the same period.

And then, of course, the other obvious big winners from the repeal of the Mining Tax are big mining companies themselves. Certainly, if the level of their donations is anything to go by, there were a lot of mining companies (and related suppliers like marine dredging operators) out there who were very happy to see the LNP – with their commitment to the repeal of the mining tax – win the 2013 federal election.

The Losers: The real owners of the minerals (AKA The Australian People)

There is a fairly simple but often misunderstood fact about Australia’s mineral and resource wealth, and that is that with limited exceptions, mineral (and other) resources under the soil belong to the Australian people. They’re ours. Well technically they belong to ‘the crown’ (or in this case, the state governments) – but same thing.

Unlike in countries like the USA, where a gold nugget you dug up in your backyard would belong to you, in Australia, everything under the ground belongs to all of us. ‘We’ then licence the rights to mining companies – like Shenhua and Hancock Prospecting – to extract those minerals (or other resources).

This arguably makes taxing mining (and resources) profits different to taxing other companies, because they are making profits from something that belongs to us. It’s literally Australia’s family silver. Once it’s sold, it’s gone.

When you take that into account, you could argue that the mining tax is closer to a profit share arrangement than a tax – because it’s about what portion of profits made from our mineral wealth should go to mining companies (who are 83% foreign owned), and what portion should go to us. In 2001, the split was roughly 60/40 – 60% to the mining companies and 40% to us. But now, it’s closer to 80/20 – 80% to the mining companies and 20% to us. The mining tax sought to redress some of that imbalance – although arguably not as well as it could have, thanks to the watering down it got prior to its implementation – but that’s another story.

Conclusion:  The Abbott government – with some help from the Mining companies themselves – demonised the Mining Tax.  It was the economic terrorist that would kill investment and jobs according to Abbott, and he and his government promised to come in and save us from this terrible mountainous dragon of a tax.

But in the stark light of day, looked at this through the eyes of the average Aussie, the slaying of the mining tax is not something Abbott should be boasting about. It may have been a win for the LNP and some of their major donors, but for everyone else, we’re letting mining companies sell off the family silver without giving us our fair share.

Slaying the Carbon Tax  (The tax that would devastate a nation)

“I say to Julia Gillard, what have you got against the people of Gladstone? Why are you trying to close down Gladstone with your mining tax and your carbon tax?”
(Tony Abbott, March 2011)

The Carbon Tax – a quick primer:
The Carbon Tax was introduced on 1 July 2012 as part of the Labor Government’s Clean Energy plan. It only impacted 260 large carbon emitters, who had to pay for their carbon emissions. The goal of the tax was to incentivise a reduction in carbon gas emissions – which it did. The tax was repealed on 17 July 2014.

Abbott’s claim: The sky was going to fall down 

According to Abbott, the mining tax and the carbon tax were going to ruin life as we know it in Australia:

“There’s hardly a region in this country that wouldn’t have major communities devastated by the carbon tax if this goes ahead” (April, 2011)

Of course that didn’t happen – this was yet another piece of Truthiness. Abbott took the tiniest of molehills and created a massive mountain of fear about what the Carbon tax would do. Not only did Gladstone not close down, but there was even a great article in the Gladstone Observer in March this year entitled ‘Bring back the carbon tax‘.

Leigh Sales questioned Abbott about this last week – asking him to comment on the fact that places like Gladstone, Whyalla and Geelong weren’t actually wiped off the map as he said they would be. In a rare moment of honesty, Abbott briefly conceded that Sales had a ‘gotcha’ moment, which seemed to shock even him briefly, as he then mumbled something about trying “to be as good as we possibly can be going forward”.

Moreover, not only did the carbon tax not cause wide-spread job loss and economic problems while it was in place – following its repeal, we have not seen the promised increase in investment or jobs. In fact the opposite has occurred. Unemployment has continued to climb and investment to drop. So if scrapping the carbon tax was to have fixed those problems, it has been spectacularly unsuccessful.

The winners: Every household gets $550 a year! Ok, not $550 – but nearly enough to buy an extra cup of coffee every week.

No longer able to link the repeal of the carbon tax to increased investment and employment growth, Abbott and his ministers now focus primarily on the savings to households and businesses created by the tax’s demise:

“We scrapped the carbon tax and that meant that every Australian household on average was $550 a year better off.” (Abbott, March 2015)

This is partially true. As a result of the repeal of the carbon tax, prices did drop, and households will have saved some money. However, according to ABC Fact check, the amount is only $280 per year in 2015/16 and $424 per year over three years. Now before you get too excited by these savings, remember that they are expressed ‘per household’. If you convert that to a saving ‘per person’ it is closer to $110 per year next year and $165 per year over three years – or around the price of a coffee once a week.

The Losers: The Planet and the Budget (AKA the Australian people. Again.)

Before you start celebrating, there’s two big things you traded your extra cup of coffee per week in for:

  1. We’ve no longer got a workable climate change policy to help keep us in clean air, dry land and livable weather.
  2. We’ve gone from collecting revenue from heavy carbon emitters to paying companies for possibly, maybe, doing something about reducing carbon emissions at some point in the future.

Australia’s world-first climate change policy – increase carbon emissions

It’s no secret that Abbott is at best sceptical about the need to do something about climate change. In 2009, he said that climate change was ‘crap’. In his autobiography, he indicates that he is a fan of Australian geologist Ian Plimer whose own book argues that ‘the climate has always changed‘ and that humans are not responsible for current global warming. Interestingly, Plimer is a director on the boards of several of Gina Rinehart’s mining companies.  And even more interesting, it seems that Plimer is also a fan of Tony Abbott’s – having donated a total of $97,000 to various branches of the Liberal and National parties in 2013/2014.

Given Abbott’s philosophy on climate change, it’s no wonder that once elected, he set about implementing a world first – a climate change policy that actually resulted in a serious increase in carbon emissions. In fact, since the repeal of the Carbon Tax, Australia’s carbon emissions have been increasing at one of the highest rates since records started in 1990.  This suggests that Abbott still doesn’t believe that cutting carbon emissions is a priority, despite the clear consensus amongst scientists that it should be. Some even think that it may already be game over.

Here’s a graph of data published by our Department of Environment earlier this year showing total Australian carbon emissions just prior to when the carbon tax was introduced along with projections through to 2020. The graph shows that there was a clear drop in carbon emissions following the introduction of the Carbon Tax (the green bars). This drop in emissions immediately reversed (the red bars) after the tax was repealed, and the stark increase in emissions is expected to continue through at least 2020.

AustraliasCarbonEmissions2015

Let’s stop raising revenue and start paying companies instead

The other thing that happened as a result of the carbon tax being repealed was that we went from a scheme which raised revenue by taking money from companies with high emissions via the carbon tax (some $6.6 billion in 2013), to one where we pay companies $2.5 billion via the Direct Action Scheme to commit to reducing their emissions. At some point in time. But not necessarily straight away. In fact, only 1.5% of companies who are currently participating in the Direct Action scheme are committing to reduce emissions in the next three to five years.

Scrapping the Carbon Tax and introducing Direct Action has left a $7.6 billion hole in budget revenue – which is going to have to be made up somewhere. So don’t spend that $110 too quickly.

Conclusion:  Given Abbott’s historical position on climate change, and that his actions since being elected support increased rather than decreased carbon emissions, it’s difficult to believe his stated position last year, that he takes climate change ‘very seriously‘. Climate change is arguably the most important challenge facing our nation – and the whole world – right now.  And yet our Prime Minister is making things worse and not better. The potential consequences of this, not just for future generations, but for current generations are staggering, and make the $280 per household savings seem insignificant. What use is money in the bank if the bank doesn’t have a planet to live on?

But instead of focusing on the very real problem of climate change, Tony Abbott created a mountain out of a carbon-tax-molehill to scare the Australian people into believing that Australia needed to be saved from the carbon-tax, rather than from the true foe – carbon emissions themselves. He convinced people that he was the man to slay the mythical carbon-tax dragon, and completely distracted people from the thing that we should really be afraid of – climate change.

Stopping the Boats – a quick look

Space prohibits me from doing justice to a discussion on the winners and losers from Abbott’s Stop the Boats policy. But just some quick points to consider when thinking about molehills, dragons and mountains:

The only winners I can see from the Abbott government’s Stop the Boats policy are politicians, who have turned the plight of a small number of asylum seekers coming here by boat into another mythical dragon to be slain for their own political ends. The biggest losers are of course the world’s most vulnerable – asylum seekers. Asylum seekers who have nowhere to go, or worse still – are stuck in the torturous hell-holes that are Manus island and Nauru. Or even worse, forcibly returned to the country they were fleeing persecution from – as happened this week.

Yet again the Abbott government has diverted billions of dollars into conquering a molehill that their spin doctors have turned into a dragon-shaped mountain.

Molehills aren’t mountains. Or Dragons. Mountains are mountains. 

By @Fyfetoons

By @Fyfetoons

Abbott really does seem to specialise in terrorising the Australian people by making mountains out of molehills. He finds a small but ‘credibilish’ fear and uses rhetoric to fan it into fully fledged terror. He then portrays himself as the only possible saviour of the Australian people from this mountainous mythical dragon.

The three so-called ‘achievements’ discussed above are not the only ones Abbott has created dragons out of – look at the fear he has managed to generate around terrorist attacks.

It’s the ultimate political spin doctoring – create a mythical dragon, fight it, and claim to have saved us from it. And the thing with dragons is that they are far easier to slay – what with them not being real and all – than actual problems. It’s much simpler to be a dragon slayer than someone who actually rights real wrongs or solves real problems.

And let’s face it – it has worked. The good people of Aus have by and large been successfully hoodwinked into buying the myths. As have the media, who on the whole let Abbott’s talk of dragon slaying go largely – not wholly, but largely – unchallenged.

When you look at the winners and losers from the three policies that Abbott boasts so much about – the only consistent winner is the LNP. Abbott’s main achievement has been distracting the Australian people with insignificant dragon-shaped molehills so that we won’t look at the truly mountainous problems we should be focusing on.

This article was first published on Kate M’s blog Progressive Conversation.

43 comments

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  1. Matters Not

    Yes Operation Sovereign Borders was a resounding success at the political level, at least in the eyes of some. Many of the punters believe that ‘illegal’ entry is now a thing of the past. (Hilarious, particularly when one considers the number of ‘illegals’ who arrive by the airlines, headed by the most professional people smugglers of all.)

    And while we were ensuring that our ‘Sovereignty’ was protected from refugees exercising their human rights, our political masters were rejoicing in their achievements of massively undermining our ‘Sovereignty’ through trade deals which included investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses.

  2. Florence nee Fedup

    SA Australia has sure suffered massive employment wipe outs as Abbott predicted. No, Whyalla is still on the map. so called carbon tax had little effect. Yes, mining industry in trouble, but not from MRRT, which was a tax on super windfall profits. No super profits, but sadly with the bottom falling out ore prices, little profit at all.

    No, it is actions of Abbott, from say one, long before his first budget that led to massive job losses. Yes, telling GMH and the auto industry in general to get lost has not helped job figures. They took his advice and ran.

    Not happy to leave it there, to get a trade pact with his newest bested Japanese friend, he told them they could have our submarine industry. 2 years later, his captain’s pick still not sorted out. Not sure boat building is in much better state.

    Yes, we need to be scared, but not necessary about what the PM tells us. It is what he doesn’t say that should frighten one more.

  3. Kate M

    Exactly Florence.

  4. S.W .Mathers

    Very interesting article, the great pity is that the people who should read it are still being conned by the ‘dragon slayer’. I once worked with a person like this who spent all his time on a great salary, solving invisible problems created only in his mind. His productivity, like Abbott’s, was zero. However, Abbott et al have taken us backwards at warp speed.

  5. brickbob

    Thanks for a very good article,i cant believe so many people were duped by Abbotts lies on the carbon and mining taxes,but i also understand the medias help in promoting these fallacies. These bloody mining companies are ripping the guts out of this country and most of the profits are going overseas,and the price on carbon was bringing down emissions and adding revenue to the Govt coffers as was the mining tax. I have not heard one media person ask Hunt or Abbott why they axed two policies that brought in revenue and also lowered dangerous emissions ,i hate this bloody MSM in this countrybunch of gutless sycophants.”””””””

  6. cartoonmick

    Nice article, saying it as it is, just a pity the average voter isn’t wise to the depth of spin coming from our pollies mouths.

    The bottom line is, many pollies think the average person is stupid and believes them.

    Articles like this need to be pushed out in the publics face so as to wake them up before they make their next vote.

    I think it could all be summed up with this cartoon . . . .

    Editorial / Political

    Cheers
    Mick

  7. Kate M

    Nice cartoon Mick

  8. Galley Boy

    Absolutely the worst expletive that I can think of was coined by the highly esteemed Bob Ellis who said: “F*cking Liberal Voter..!!

    Well, tell the truth, what he actually said was simply: “a Liberal voter.” but the newly discovered $6,000.00 joy ride taken by the nefarious chairperson was guiding my hand while I was looking where she was pointing . . at the sins of Ex-prime Ministers . . .

  9. mars08

    Thank goodness Shorten and the ALP work relentlessly to debunk Abbott myths. Thank goodness they loudly and proudly explain why this government is a failure and refuse to endorse any silly Coalition policies.

    Thank goodness…

  10. corvus boreus

    Big promises Tony has kept.

    Tony has axed the carbon and mining taxes (forgoing substantial governmental revenue and hastening environmental decline).
    Tony has also stopped the boats (with huge cost [military expenditure, privatised brutality and brown-bags for smugglers]).
    Australia IS open for business (with not much need to pay tax, hire the locals, or even obey the laws).

    Unfortunately, Tony has not fixed the debt (which, although tripled in size, is no longer referred to as a ‘black hole/disaster’).

    On his adherence to ‘no excuses and no surprises’, I would grant that Tony does not often deign to offer any attempt at defensive explanation, and add that I, for one, am entirely unsurprised by the nature of his conduct as PM.

  11. Kate M

    Mars08 – exactly.

    I’ve commented previously that it should be like shooting fish in a barrel for Labor – but they seem to be feeding the fish instead.

  12. Neil of Sydney

    Tony has axed the carbon and mining taxes (forgoing substantial governmental revenue

    Under Labor with commodity prices at record highs not much revenue was obtained. Now that commodity prices have crashed we would have been getting zero revenue from these taxes.

    Tony has also stopped the boats (with huge cost

    The Australian taxpayer has spent $11B housing the 50,000 boat people who came here under Rudd/Gillard and the people who voted for them. I doubt we are spending any more now that the boats have stopped.

  13. Christel Nathan

    Great Article and unfortunately true

  14. Florence nee Fedup

    We didn’t have sovereign borders with massive tie up of our defence and customs workers, in the northern waters as we have now,

    We never spent 100’s millions to countries in our region to take 4 boat people from Manus. How much have we given Sri Lanka, Trouble is, everything is so secret, one has no idea what is being spent.

    Has anyone ever looked at the number of asylum seekers, that have always came by air. Have those numbers changed in any way.

    The latest ism those on Manus, who have been declared non asylum seekers by this governments new lite assessment criteria have been given days to agree to return to where they came from. Will be given money if they do. If not, they will be imprisoned either on Manus, or in PNG,

    They have been told they can have a lawyer, but will have to pay themselves, No mechanism exists that gives them access to solicitors.

    Stateless people have no choice. No effort has been made by any government, to help these people find other countries to take them. So now jail is the only answer.

  15. Roswell

    Great article, Kate. Well done.

  16. Florence nee Fedup

    Some other good cartons on the link Mick gave,

  17. Bronte ALLAN

    Great cartoons Mick! SACK TONY ABSCESS, he could not lie straight in bed, the inept, lying, flat earth, tea party, right wing, conservative crone. And he is “our” Minister for Science” (??). WTF!!

  18. Sally K

    Mars08 – the vested interest groups and donors both parties respond to will be working hard, and evidently with success, to turn the ALP into a pale imitation of the LNP. They must as due to age LNP voters will be dying out faster than ALP voters:

    “Analysis by Age group
    Analysis by Age group shows the ALP still with its strongest advantage among younger Australians. 18-24yr olds heavily favour the ALP 68.5% cf. L-NP 31.5%; 25-34yr olds also heavily favour the ALP 64.5% cf. L-NP 35.5%; 35-49yr olds favour the ALP 54.5% cf. L-NP 45.5% while 50-64yr olds now slightly favour the ALP 51.5% cf. L-NP 48.5% and those aged 65+ heavily favour the L-NP 58.5% cf. ALP 41.5%.”

    Roy Morgan: When Bronny belted Tony

  19. Neil of Sydney

    We didn’t have sovereign borders with massive tie up of our defence and customs workers, in the northern waters as we have now,

    We spent much more under Labor. $11B over just 6 years.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/asylum-seekers-government-to-reveal-budget-saving-from-detention-centre-closures/story-fni0cx12-1227333486734

    The $3 billion in total savings to be booked over the budget forward estimates, however, are still dwarfed by the $11 billion in estimated blowouts in border protection and immigration spending under the six years of the former Labor government.

  20. corvus boreus

    NoS,
    Cite facts and provide links.
    Your opinion has no currency.

  21. Roswell

    Neil, guess what? Labor aren’t in government any more. Instead of carrying on about what previous governments did, or what future governments might do, how about telling us about the present governed.

  22. Florence nee Fedup

    Neil, Labor spent money on helping people, not making their lives more difficult. Not the same.

  23. Florence nee Fedup

    Roswell, do you really believe they are governing. A PM that goes into hiding, anytime things get difficult.

  24. Florence nee Fedup

    Abbott’s six months probation up. What now?

  25. Florence nee Fedup

    Abbott and Bishop being linked together now in media outrage.

    Bishop still out and about, not our Tony. Neil have you any idea why this is so?

  26. Neil of Sydney

    Neil, guess what? Labor aren’t in government any more

    Just commenting on the false comment about Soverign Borders. And i could not believe it when i read it but we spent $11B on housing all the boat people you guys locked up.

    And this is what happened under Labor

    https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/asylum-seekers-refugees-and-human-rights-snapshot-report/2-onshore-detention-and

    Between January 2011 and February 2013 there were 4,313 incidents of actual, threatened and attempted serious self-harm recorded in immigration detention facilities in Australia.[73] In the 2012–2013 financial year there were 846 incidents of self-harm across the immigration detention network.[74]

    Between 1 July 2010 and 20 June 2013, there were 12 deaths in immigration detention facilities. Coroners have found that six of those deaths were suicides.[

    And nobody cared about the deaths in Labors detention centers until Abbott won govt.

  27. Chris Crash

    How do we know the boats have been stopped when no-one will tell us anything. The only thing we seem to know is that every now and then, a boat slips through the net. Now Labor have joined in the persecution, it is only a matter of time before the politicians will tell us absolutely nothing. Just like they do with their entitlements to expenses. The only honest voice here is Barnaby Joyce who has stated that no-one wants to go there as they all have their noses in the trough.

  28. Michael Taylor

    And nobody cared about the deaths in Labors detention centers until Abbott won govt.

    That’s a load of shit and you know it.

    I’m losing tolerance in you, Neil.

  29. Roswell

    You’re not the only one!

  30. Dee

    @ Neil of Sydney
    “and the people who voted for them”
    Pause for a moment from your political diatribe. You are assuming that all ALP voters are “leaners” and live in government housing and that all LNP voters are “lifters” and therefore on your side. This is an extremely bigotted and condescending comment and nothing could be further from the truth. This “us” and “them” mentality is the very thing this government has tried to foster in the community. Perhaps you have bought their propaganda and are simply gullible.

  31. Dee

    @ Kate
    I forgot to say, it was a very insightful article and I greatly appreciate your work and the cartoons as well.

  32. Neil of Sydney

    I’m losing tolerance in you, Neil.

    Why? Compare the outrage when Raza beriti died just after the Coalition won govt to the 12 deaths under Labor and the 4,000 “incidents”

    NOBODY cared what went on in Labors detention centers until Abbott won govt.

    Same goes for Triggs. She was asleep from 2008-2013 and then awoke from her slumber when Abbott got elected.

    Neil, Labor spent money on helping people,

    Florence, Labor locked up more men, women and children than any govt in Australian history. And if they win govt they will do it again. Helping people? Please explain?

    We spent $11B housing all the people you locked up. That is what the F35’s are going to cost us.

  33. Michael Taylor

    Oh FFS. What else can I say?

  34. Kaye Lee

    Neil,

    “Same goes for Triggs. She was asleep from 2008-2013 and then awoke from her slumber when Abbott got elected.”

    Triggs didn’t take up the job until 30 July 2012. The average time people were spending in detention tripled from September 2013 to July 2014.

    “Compare the outrage when Raza beriti died just after the Coalition won govt to the 12 deaths under Labor ”

    Aside from the fact that he was murdered by the people we pay to “protect” him……

    27-Sep-13: 36 dead: Lebanese, Iranian, Iraqi & Africans, reportedly mostly children under 15 who drowned because they could not swim. 8 children known to have drowned and one pregnant woman. The boat sank off Java enroute to Australia. 36 people are confirmed drowned including a number of children. News reports say the death toll may rise to 70. 25 rescued. Reports of between 63-125 on board.

    9-Dec-13: 3 dead: Iranian and ethnic Rohingya The boat, carrying 30 asylum seekers, sank off the coast of Java, bound for Australia. Three deaths including one two year old child.

    5-Feb-14: 1 dead: Rezene Mebrahta Engeda, 30 year old, Eritrean man Rezene Mebrahta Engeda drowned himself in the Maribyrnong River, Victoria upon notice of a failed asylum application and letter to attend a meeting with DIBP where he assumed he would be told of his pending deportation to Eritrea

    13-Feb-14: 1 Indian man, 27 years old, dead: The man hung himself in Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre. He had been detained since January 2014 for overstaying his student visa. Victorian Police are investigating his death. Onshore immigration detention centre

    17-Feb-14: 1 dead, Reza Barati, 24 years old, Iranian man Reza Barati died of head injuries on the way to Lorengau hospital in PNG following protests at the Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre. Violence resulted in the injury of 77 others, 12 seriously. Offshore immigration detention centre

    1-Jun-14: 1 dead, Leo Seemanpillai, 29 years old, Sri Lankan man Leo Semmanpillai died as a result of self immolation, suffering burns to 90% of his body. He had been living in community detention on a bridging visa awaiting the outcome of his refugee claim.

    5-Sep-14: 1 dead, Hamid Kehazaei, 24 years old, Iranian man Kehazaei had been admitted to Mater Hospital, Brisbane from Manus Island where he had developed septicaemia from a cut on his foot. He suffered a heart attack before being airlifted to hospital on the mainland of Australia where he became gravely ill and was placed on life support. He was declared brain dead earlier in the week before the decision was made to turn off his life support. Offshore immigration detention centre

    13-Mar-15 1 dead, Omid Ali Avaz, 29 years old, Iranian man of Kurdish ethnicity Mr Avaz is believed to have taken his own life in Brisbane following a history of mental illness since learning of the death of his mother. Mr Avaz was on a 449 Humanitarian Stay Temporary Visa for a period of 12 months in February and it is believed that he had concerns about his refugee status.

  35. Florence nee Fedup

    No one was murdered under Labor. No one died because of lack medical treatment.

  36. Florence nee Fedup

    Bishop gone. Abbott said she is not at fault. Is the system. wide ranging inquiry set up.

  37. Florence nee Fedup

    It has become apparent over the last few days, it is not the person but the system. Only over last few days.

  38. Neil of Sydney

    The average time people were spending in detention tripled from September 2013 to July 2014.

    You obviously know nothing about statistics.

    Under Labor people were continually arriving. The new arrivals kept the AVERAGE time in detention down.

    As soon as the boats stopped there were no new arrivals hence the AVERAGE time in detention increased. If 500 boat people arrived tomorrow and were placed in detention the AVERAGE time in detention would suddenly drop. You need to learn some maths and you also need to learn how the ALP twists numbers to support their policies.

    No one was murdered under Labor. No one died because of lack medical treatment.

    How do you know? Nobody cared until Abbott was elected. In fact Triggs was banned by Labor from visiting the detention centers. According to Triggs there were 12 deaths and 4,000 “incidents” under Labor.

  39. Kaye Lee

    Could I have the source for Labor banning Triggs from the detention centres please?

    “By February 2014, it became apparent that there had been a slowing down of the release of children. Over the first six months of the new Coalition Government the numbers of children in detention remained relatively constant. Not only were over 1000 children held in detention by February 2014, but also they were being held for longer periods than in the past, with no pathway to resettlement.”

  40. Kaye Lee

    Changes in law and Government policy since the Inquiry was launched

    Since the Inquiry was announced, changes have been made in Government policy and practice, along with decisions of the High Court, that affect asylum seeker children in detention:

    •A few days before being invited to give evidence to the Inquiry, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced his decision to release before the end of the year, all children under 10 years of age, who arrived before 19 July 2013. This new policy may lead to the release of about 150 children, but hundreds will remain in detention.

    •Over the period February to September 2014, the Minister released about 220 children, including unaccompanied children, into community detention or the community on bridging visas.

    •In July 2014, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection provided funds to the Western Australian Catholic Education Office to establish a school on Christmas Island, improving the access by asylum seeker children to education.

    •Some asylum seeker children with physical and mental illness have been brought to the Australian mainland and given medical care, or have been released into the community on humanitarian grounds.

    •The High Court has ruled that the Minister may not impose a cap on protection visas and must make a decision whether to deport or allow an asylum seeker to apply for a protection visa ‘as soon as is reasonably practicable’.

    The Commission is pleased to recognise these changes as being in the best interests of many asylum seeker children.

  41. Neil of Sydney

    Could I have the source for Labor banning Triggs from the detention centres please?

    Certainly but first a comment on your quote. Triggs does not understand statistics. If 5,000 boat people arrived tomorrow and placed in detention and then then the average time in detention for all people measured two weeks latter, the average time in detention would be decreased since 5,000 people have only been held for two weeks. You need to look up what AVERAGE means.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/official-barred-from-visits-to-nauru-manus-island-20130304-2fh2g.html

    The federal government’s top legal adviser has told Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs she cannot visit Nauru and Manus Island to assess and act on complaints from asylum seekers about conditions on the islands
    .

    Note the article is dated March 5, 2013.

  42. Neil of Sydney

    Yes, telling GMH and the auto industry in general to get lost has not helped job figures. They took his advice and ran.

    That statement is wrong from beginning to end. Under Labor local car sales went from over 20% of the market in 2007 to just 10% in 2013. The market was dead when the Coalition won govt.

    And it was Holden who threatened the govt. They went to Hockey and wanted double the money that Gillard had promised. Hockey said no. They went back and asked for more money because Ford left under Labor.

  43. Lee

    “Same goes for Triggs. She was asleep from 2008-2013 and then awoke from her slumber when Abbott got elected.”

    Well there’s proof that Neil has never read the AHRC’s 2014 report on asylum children in detention, nor did he pay attention to the answers when Triggs was grilled in Senate Estimates over this report. Had he done so, he would know that the AHRC was equally critical of the Labor government in the 2014 report, and it submitted over 140 reports and other documents to the Labor government on this matter. But as usual, Neil just likes to make shit up.

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