Australians detained on Christmas Island ‘by mistake’

The government has admitted two Australian citizens were sent to the detention facility on Christmas Island within recent months by mistake.


According to a statement from the Department of Immigration and Border protection, the pair had their visas cancelled under section 501 of the Migration Act.

Under the Act, non-citizens visas will be automatically cancelled if they have received a prison sentence of at least 12 months within Australia, or have been found guilty of a crime involving the sexual abuse of a child.

The department adds that “after it was identified that each individual held dual Australian citizenship, arrangements were immediately made for their release from immigration detention”.

The Guardian Australia is reporting the men, born in New Zealand, hold dual Australian citizenship.

Principal solicitor of the National Justice Project, Professor George Newhouse, said it’s “a shocking state of affairs”.

“We have a situation where Australian citizens can be wrongfully detained on the whim, on the decision of a bureaucrat or a government minister,” he said.

Professor Newhouse said he believes the reasons these cases occur is because the system is “unaccountable”, where “you don’t need to be taken before a judge or a court” for visa decisions.

“Mistakes happen when you cut corners and you take away due process,” he said.


Australian citizen Cornelia Rau was held by authorities for 10 months from 2004-2005, later receiving more than $2 million in compensation.

Prior to this, in 2001, Vivian Solon was wrongfully deported to the Philippines, with Australian authorities believing she was an illegal immigrant. Despite the government realising its error in 2003, it did not come to light until 2005.

A 2005 inquiry conducted by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer found the department breached its own guidelines regarding dealing with detainees, and slammed its treatment of Ms Rau as “demonstrably inadequate”.

More than 200 cases of alleged wrongful deportation were referred to the then-Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone for review.

But Professor Newhouse said things have changed since the investigation.

“The government’s policies have just got harder, and they’ve eroded the protections recommended by Mick Palmer,” he said, accusing the Australian Border Force of having a so-called “cowboy culture”.

According to the Australian Financial Review, current Border Force head, Roman Quaedvlieg, is on extended leave after an external investigation over his personal behaviour.

The government recently proposed reforms to citizenship, including changing the English language test and introducing a “values” test.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who already has the power to veto decisions on visas by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, also wants his powers extended further.

Professor Newhouse said the minister wants to be “judge, jury and executioner”.

He warned that the situation could get worse.

“We live in a country where Australian citizens can be taken prisoner by their own government, when they’ve committed no offence, and done nothing wrong,” he said.

– with wires


AFL players who face mental health battles



TOM BOYD, 21: Eight months after starring in the Western Bulldogs’ grand final win, the big-money forward was on Wednesday granted a leave of absence to treat clinical depression.


He revealed he has been managing the illness for an extended time.

TRAVIS CLOKE, 30: Boyd’s teammate announced in June he is taking time away from the sport to deal with mental health issues, with coach Luke Beveridge saying Cloke hadn’t been enjoying the game. He is likely to return in the reserves this weekend.

ALEX FASOLO, 25: The Collingwood forward took a short break to manage depression, missing their round 11 match this year.

LANCE FRANKLIN, 30: The Sydney star forward withdrew from the 2015 finals due to a serious mental health issue. He returned to the field the following year, kicking 81 goals.


MITCH CLARK, 29: The key Demons forward stepped away from the AFL in April 2014 after a string of injuries, also revealing he had depression. He returned to play for Geelong for two seasons but was delisted in 2016.

BARRY HALL, 40: The ex-Sydney premiership captain Barry Hall revealed in April he had faced mental challenges in the months after retirement.

COURTENAY DEMPSEY, 29: The ex-Essendon defender revealed in May he felt “like a piece of meat” when he was delisted by the Bombers, with his depression adding to the devastation over 12 teammates’ doping bans.

SIMON HOGAN, 28: The ex-Geelong player revealed his struggle with depression in 2014 to educate younger players about mental illness.

CHAD FLETCHER, 37: Ex-West Coast Eagles midfielder Chad Fletcher revealed “dark clouds” hovered over him during his All-Australian year in 2004.

WAYNE SCHWASS, 48: The North Melbourne and Sydney great, who endured mental health problems in retirement, now advocates for mental health awareness.

NATHAN THOMPSON, 39: The ex-Kangaroos player spoke publicly in 2004 about his experience of depression. He’s since become an ambassador for mental health agency beyondblue to raise awareness of its prevalence.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Nahan expects Barnett to retire this year

West Australian opposition leader Mike Nahan expects former premier Colin Barnett to retire from politics this year but believes he first wants to ensure his legacy is not trashed.


Dr Nahan has not spoken to Mr Barnett about it, but believes WA’s second longest-serving post-war premier wants to see the September budget handed down.

“I expect him, in his own good time, to leave this year but it’s his choice,” Dr Nahan told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“He was an extremely dominant leader for a long period of time … it was his show.

“I think he’s going to wait around for the budget to see what happens. He does have a legacy that he wants to comment on, I’m sure.”

Dr Nahan said he trusted the former premier, who he had known for 30 years, and said Mr Barnett had recently helped him put together the WA Liberals GST submission to the Productivity Commission.

Mr Barnett has so far remained tight-lipped about his future.

If he does exit politics, it will spark a by-election in his safe seat in coastal Cottesloe.

Dr Nahan also spoke candidly about the Liberal party’s March election loss, saying he knew defeat was coming but did not know the swing would be so big, with Labor winning 41 of the 59 seats.

He said there was nothing more local members could have done and while he did not take the defeat personally, it was hard to lose so many colleagues.

The 67-year-old former treasurer said he was committed to four more years, describing himself as “the leader, not the boss”.

“I’m actually quite good for this post (as opposition leader) because I’m very, very experienced in the transition to government,” he said.

“I was a commentator forever, I was a former bureaucrat, so nothing that comes across our observations for comment is new to me.”

Trump’s options limited on North Korea


US President Donald Trump has talked tough over North Korea’s missile tests but his options appear limited.


Most options fall into four categories.


North Korea is already among the most heavily sanctioned nations, facing numerous strictures to limit its ability to conduct commerce, take part in international finance and trade in weapons and other contraband.

Despite those measures, “most analysts agree that US and multilateral sanctions have not prevented North Korea from advancing its fledgling nuclear weapons capability,” a US Congressional Research Service report says.

Trump is reportedly focusing his North Korea strategy for now on tougher sanctions, possibly including an oil embargo, banning its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang.


The US, with help from Israel, temporarily set back Iran’s nuclear program via a computer virus called Stuxnet, which destroyed thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The US tried, but failed, to deploy a version of Stuxnet to attack North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in 2009 and 2010.

Another approach would be to use cyber attacks to disable North Korean missiles during or shortly after their launch.

The high failure rate of the North’s missile tests has prompted speculation the US is already doing so.


The Trump administration has said it is open to diplomatic negotiations with North Korea but only under the right conditions, with the focus on “denuclearisation”.

There have been no official negotiations for seven years.

While China has responded to previous North Korean tests of suspected ICBM technology by agreeing to tougher UN sanctions, it emphasised on Tuesday its call for a return to talks with North Korea.

Under Beijing’s plan, North Korea would suspend its ballistic missile program in return for a moratorium on large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea.


Military options available to Trump range from a sea blockade aimed at enforcing sanctions to cruise missile strikes on nuclear and missile facilities to a broader campaign aimed at overthrowing leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has threatened to “ruthlessly ravage” the US if Washington attacks.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has warned the consequences of any military action would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale”, while Trump national security adviser HR McMaster has indicated force is a last resort.

EU rules tackle multinationals’ tax dodges

The European Parliament has passed a directive requiring big multinationals to report tax and financial data separately in all countries where they operate in a bid to tackle tax avoidance and profit shifting to countries with lower taxes.


The new rules are part of a wider overhaul of tax regulation spurred by the so-called Panama Papers and other revelations of widespread tax avoidance by companies and wealthy individuals.

They do, however, still need approval from the EU member states in coming months, and would then have to be enacted into national law in each country within a year.

EU countries lose between 50 and 70 billion euros in revenues every year because of tax avoidance, the vice president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, told lawmakers.

The new measure would require firms with activities in the EU and an annual turnover of at least 750 million euros ($A1.15 billion) to disclose data such as profits, revenues, taxes paid and number of employees for each country where they operate.

Currently, multinationals disclose their operations in one consolidated report.

Tax-dodging schemes often hinge on the transfer of taxable profits from the higher-tax states where they are made to countries with lower taxation or none at all.

Tax-saving schemes used by Apple, Amazon, Google, Starbucks and other companies have raised public pressure for EU-wide rules to close these loopholes.

The original legislative proposal made by the European Commission required country-by-country disclosures only for operations in EU states and in tax havens, although there is no common EU list of such jurisdictions.

The European Parliament changed the proposed rules to extend the reporting requirement to all countries where firms operate.

To protect Europe’s competitiveness, the conservative and liberal groups in the EU legislature successfully pushed for companies to be allowed to apply for limited-period exemptions from disclosing information that is commercially sensitive.

But the bill does not specify what would be considered sensitive. The anti-corruption group Transparency International called the exemption a “massive loophole” that could undermine the new legislation, and another campaign group, Oxfam, said lawmakers were “bowing to big business”.

German conservative legislator Markus Ferber said the clause was necessary to prevent companies “handing away business secrets to the competition on a silver platter”.