As I’m not a subscriber to The Australian I’m rather fortunate that their paywall obstructs me from reading their daily diatribes. As was the case with a recent article by Janet Albrechtsen; ‘Compassion junkies back on their choice fix’ – which unless you are a subscriber to Rupert Murdoch’s masthead you will also be blocked from enjoying this fine example of journalist integrity. I’m encouraged to assume it’s an absolutely factual article and one of utmost importance because Andrew Bolt refers to it in his sensationally named piece; ‘ The Left prefers to kill 1100 with compassion’. And Andrew has kindly quoted from the article, giving me a glimpse of what was previously hidden from all but that small number of Australians who care to bother what people like Ms Albrechtsen write.
Quoting Albrechtsen, Bolt wrote:
Start with the rank hypocrisy of those who favour emotion over reason. Did the human candle-holders demand a change in the former Labor government’s policies that encouraged the people-smuggling business that led to 1200 tragedies between 2007 and last year? Did these grandstanders call for the resignation of the stream of Labor immigration ministers under whose watch 1200 men, women and children died? …
(At least Andrew trimmed the number down to 1100 while still pushing the 1200 figure of Albrechtsen’s).
Albrechtsen’s article was about the unfortunate death of Reza Berati whose death, she shrilly adds, ‘provided a useful reminder that the so-called intellectual Left is anything but intellectual’. It was a statement seized upon by Bolt. The gist of his own article was an opportunity to rub it in.
But there is something terribly wrong with Albrechtsen’s claim that 1200 people died under Labor’s watch. There is also something terribly wrong with Bolt promoting this claim. Namely, is that figure correct? And if the figure is incorrect, where did it come from?
The answer to the first question is easy: It is not correct.
After the very paper Albrechtsen works for reported in July last year that ‘More than 1000 asylum seekers have perished at sea since Labor relaxed its policies in 2008 . . . ‘ The Conversation produced evidence in ‘FactCheck: have more than 1000 asylum seekers died at sea under Labor?‘ showing this to be incorrect, reporting that:
No official records are kept by any government agency as to how many people trying to reach our shores to seek asylum are dying en route. The most reliable open source data is kept by the Monash Australian Border Deaths Database which “maintains a record of all known deaths associated with Australia’s borders since 1 January 2000”.
And that the data revealed:
Between 2000 and 2007 (the period which includes the introduction of the “Pacific Solution” for asylum seekers travelling by boat under the Coalition government), the database documents 746 reported deaths of asylum seekers. Of those, 363 asylum seekers died at sea while on their way to Australia. As well, 350 were presumed dead (their status is missing at sea with status unknown); 22 died in detention (the majority of those cases were suicide, but there were some deaths of natural causes); and 11 people were returned to Afghanistan and reportedly murdered for being “Australian spies”.
Between 2008 and July 2013 (under Labor), 877 asylum seekers have reportedly died. Of those, 15 committed suicide or died of natural causes in detention centres. So during this period, approximately 862 individuals died trying to reach Australia’s mainland to seek asylum.
Just under 900 deaths (still a tragedy), but it’s a fair way off 1200 claimed by Albrechtsen.
So where did they get that figure from? That is a question I cannot answer. Perhaps they can. Someone has obviously fabricated the figure and the media are quite happy to run with it. It has been bandied about quite freely since Labor lost the election, being used relentlessly by the ‘Right’ in all forms of media to attack the ‘Left’ as being hypocrites for expressing outrage over the death of Reza Berati. (It does not occur to them that the ‘Left’ is also just as outraged about the 877 deaths under the previous Labor Governments as it was over the apparently now-forgotten 746 deaths under the Howard Government).
But I digress.
As was evident at The AIMN yesterday, we in the social media are held to account if disputed information is published. Why not the mainstream media too? Last year it was revealed that The Australian had exaggerated the number of asylum seeker deaths under Labor’s watch and yet, despite publicly accessible data being available to them, they now publish an even more exaggerated and grossly inaccurate figure. Where is the outrage? Information has been pulled out from thin air or an outright lie has been fed to us.
Like I said, not being a subscriber to The Australian I’m fortunate that their paywall prevents me from taking a look at what lies there within. From snippets such as this, it reassures me that there’s nothing credible to see.
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