Christmas Island – A Huge Waste of Money

Christmas Island Team

Who is to blame?

When one is looking at the current Government, and its ministers, and rating their general demeanour, competence, and ability to deliver decent, law-abiding administration, choosing the worst performers is tricky. How to choose between Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor? They would all qualify for the final, but let’s go with Morrison and Dutton, for their conspicuous heroics in re-opening Christmas Island.

Who is to blame for this debacle? Scott Morrison probably, because he is in charge, and he was the one who was so enraged by the passage of the Medevac Bill – The Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) 2018 . He also had Dutton to deflect blame onto, because Peter Dutton does not care what we think of him. We are just ‘looney lefties’ to him, anyway.

Why was it re-opened?

Christmas Island was specifically re-opened to by-pass the intention of the Parliament, which merely wanted seriously ill asylum seekers, who normally reside on Manus Island or Nauru, to receive medical treatment in Australia. They would then, after their treatment, be returned to their places of detention.

These asylum seekers are, after all, in our care, but Morrison / Dutton were having none of that, from the soft medical profession, or those bleeding hearts who thought we owed a duty of care to them.

So, they decided that they would re-open Christmas Island, and that would ensure that those pesky asylum seekers need never set foot on Australian soil. They would even send doctors and nurses to the island to treat them. It would be kept very Spartan in tone, because they suspected that the sick asylum seekers would just lounge around, at taxpayers’ expense, enjoying a holiday on Christmas Island. (I told you it was a neurotic plan.)

Perhaps it was just another Home Affairs grab for power. It looks like a classic Dutton point-scoring ploy, but again Scotty from Marketing does like to call the shots. It is difficult to call.

Of course it turned into a massive waste of money, while at the exact same time they and their henchmen in the Government were pursuing the poor for money. This program, dubbed robodebt, in itself was found to be illegal https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-06/robodebt-illegal-scheme-suspended/11939810. There is speculation that robodebt has been the cause of multiple suicides https://www.reddit.com/r/australia/comments/5upxiv/centrelink_robodebt_linked_suicide/.

What did it cost?

So far it has cost us over $180 million, just to re-open it. To this day there have been NO refugees basking in the sun there, and after three months of operation, with NO customers, in July 2019, the facility was re-closed.

It was dutifully placed in mothballs, and then a Tamil family, from Sri Lanka, whose two children were born in Australia, were re-housed there, awaiting deportation. That small act of cruelty cost another $30 million. There were / are over 100 staff working there, to provide security etc. to two parents, and their two toddlers. They are still there, awaiting determination of their case. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/tamil-family-fighting-deportation-to-stay-on-christmas-island-two-more-months-20191217-p53knq.html

Although Mr Dutton was able to arrange for a couple of au pairs to stay in the country https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-19/emails-show-role-peter-dutton-played-in-au-pair-visas/10282822, he is unable to bend in this case, presumably because if he lets two children stay, those floodgates will flop open.

Their community, from Biloela, a town in Queensland, has fought to keep this particular family in the country, but Mr Dutton has pretended it is a matter of principle (his) although the community have even taken the Government to court to fight the decision.

Fate continues to play a part in the decision to re-open the facility. The arrival of the coronavirus has re-purposed Christmas Island as a quarantine centre. Perhaps the two geniuses from the Government think its new, temporary use means we will forget the wasted $210 million, and still counting.

This is stunning maladministration. It came to our attention through the Budget, and it appears no-one was embarrassed, or sorry, or regretful, that we had refurbished an unsuitable site for medical evacuations, at huge cost to taxpayers’ funds, and it will never be used for its intended purpose. Morrison and Dutton are so anxious about asylum seekers’ setting foot on Australian soil that they were willing to waste our money to prove a point.

Was anything useful achieved?

Morrison did obtain a single use for the facility – he held a press conference there. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/03/we-paid-180m-for-scott-morrison-to-have-a-press-conference-on-christmas-island It took less than 30 minutes, and it has been calculated as the most expensive press conference ever held in Australian history. What will Mr Morrison do to make it up to us?

Politicians need to be held accountable. And they need to be treated with the same severity as we are, should they mis-step. If you fiddle your expenses, you should be charged, rather than being allowed to pay it back. Raise the defence in a court that you didn’t intend to steal it, and could you please just pay it back, and see how the courts treat that.

I thought that, after a disastrous summer, and the newly revealed ‘sports rortz affair’, now might be a good time to remind us of this, another shameless episode of wasting public money, by this Government. One of them, or both, made the decision to re-open Christmas Island. It was a highly neurotic, vengeful and pointless exercise, meant to say “I told you so” to the well-meaning parliamentarians who passed the Medevac Law.

This is the party with a plan.

Cleaning the Stables


On Dec 2, 2019 the Australian Parliament voted on a motion to create a federal Anti-Corruption Commission. The motion was put forward by Andrew Wilkie, an Independent from Tasmania. The motion failed, because a majority of federal parliamentarians was against the creation of such a body. The votes were cast along party lines, with no deviations.

The text of the motion commenced with the following:

(a)over a long time now the behaviour of both major parties has made it abundantly clear that Parliament cannot deal with matters of ministerial integrity, and Australia urgently needs a Federal Integrity Commission;

and included:

(c)the scope of this integrity commission must extend beyond criminal offences to a range of corrupt and unethical behaviour including donation-fuelled favouritism, cronyism and the rorting of parliamentary entitlements;

Recently Senator Bridget McKenzie, a National Party member, and Deputy Leader of the party, was found by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have acted outside the spirit of a $100 million sports grant program, overseen by McKenzie while she was the Minister for Sport, in the lead-up to the 2019 Australian federal election.

The ANAO stated that it “was administered in a way that was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice”, and sporting organisations in marginal seats that the Coalition needed to win were favoured with grants.

Although there are a myriad of such priceless moments in Australian parliamentary history, it is disheartening to once again encounter such shamelessness in a senior minister, and indeed in every member of the Coalition. Bridget McKenzie has refused to resign, and ridicules the very notion that she should. Her defence has been varied, from describing it as “reverse pork-barrelling” to “no rules were broken”. Such brazenness is breathtaking, but not a surprise.

Andrew Wilkie’s motion could not have been more appropriate, and on the money, had he been a psychic, or a fortune teller. Bridget McKenzie has clearly engaged in behaviour which falls into the area anticipated by “extends beyond criminal offences to a range of corrupt and unethical behaviour including donation-fuelled favouritism and cronyism.”

We can credibly throw in cronyism as well, because she threw buckets of money at sporting clubs in Scott Morrison’s electorate, in Tony Abbott’s (lost) electorate, and the Attorney-General, Christian Porter’s, electorate. Her ‘throw’ to Josh Frydenburg’s Kooyong is staggeringly inappropriate, if you see this as a ‘needs-based’ programme, which it is. Kooyong sits in Melbourne’s ‘dress circle’, where there are more tiaras than headbands.

In Mr Frydenberg’s economically well-endowed seat of Kooyong, the Guardian reported grants were given to Camberwell Hockey Club ($38,000), East Camberwell Tennis Club ($90,000), Kew Little Athletics ($92,450), Grace Park Hawthorn Club ($25,000) and Hawthorn Malvern Hockey Centre ($500,000). These grants all occurred in the second and third rounds, as the election approached and when it seemed that the Liberal Deputy Leader might have been in a spot of bother, electorally speaking.

There is considerable doubt in my mind as to whether these sporting clubs’ applications were completed by volunteers working into the night.

I cannot be sure if rorting of parliamentary entitlements is on her CV, but she once took a 1,700km direct charter flight to Melbourne from Rockhampton, so she could watch the Melbourne Mustangs ice hockey team. The cost to taxpayers was $19,942, plus $500 for the Comcar from the airport to the game, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority data showed. A week earlier she spent $14,000 flying via charter to Cairns to watch a basketball game. She sat two seats from Prince Charles. You have to hope it was worth it. There were commercial flights available in both instances, but busy is busy!

But enough enjoyment from the cheap seats, concentrating on only one member of the Government. It is equally interesting to look at how the parties voted on the original motion advanced by Mr Wilkie.

The theyvoteforyou.org.au website states that, when the vote was taken, the vote in favour was unanimous from the Labor Party, Australian Greens, Centre Alliance, Independents, and even Bob Katter;

Against was also unanimous: the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Liberal National Party. So the reactionary right voted 100% against having an anti-corruption body, with teeth, which would be set up to investigate Parliamentarians, their staff, and the Public Service. You have to ask yourself, “What do they have to hide?”

Plenty. The fact that Scott Morrison’s office is mainly staffed by Energy Industry retirees, relentlessly pushing the fossil fuel industry cart. The stacking of the AAT, with time-servers, most without legal qualifications; Angus Taylor and his imaginary water, all $80 million worth; Angus Taylor and Clover’s imaginary travel costs: our minister for climate. Barnaby and his service as Drought Envoy, report delivered by text; wow. How about George, the Minister for Manila; Matthias and his free holiday; sorry, not free!

The list is endless, although opening Christmas Island for a press conference, at a cost of $180 million, probably takes the cake. It is discussed here, more fully … https://askbucko.com/2019/04/05/christmas-island-a-huge-waste-of-money/

What do you call it? Is dishonesty too strong? It seems we need an Integrity Commission, asap! No chance, with this Government.