Crunching the cost of mandatory detention. We’ve received a big response to Bernard Keane’s top story yesterday Cost of detention? $113,000 per asylum seeker. Political capital? Priceless. First up from a Christmas Island resident,

“My recollection, as a CI resident, is that the Dept of Finance salvaged the project after it fell over when being (mis)managed by DIAC’s predecessor.  The total price tag I thought was closer to $450M, including $80M for staff accommodation.  The accom $80M was DOTARS money.”

“I can well imagine that the adhoc additions and extensions have cost $200M. We’re talking temporary fences around temporary fences.  The oft cited operating cost of both centres here is $1M per day.  Could that be correct I wonder? At the height of the ‘cram as many people in as possible’ lead-up to the March riots, there was 500 — 700 staff.  God.”

Then there was this snippet from the Immigration vault … “My old boss who was Tanner COS also worked for Gerry Hand when he was Minister for Immigration.  She was thrown out of the minister’s office along with Senator Barney Cooney when they challenged Hand over this idea of mandatory detention. She always maintained Andrew Metcalfe was the one who came up with this idea.”

Memo to international travellers — pen in some downtime in tomorrow’s diary. Strike action at international airports this Friday: If you’re picking up any passengers from an international airport on Friday morning, bring a crossword.  Quarantine staff (DAFF) are planning to walk off the job for four hours from 6am over stalled pay negotiations. DAFF and other public sector workers are getting increasingly annoyed with the federal government’s 3% pay cap on new agreements. So far, more than 80,000 staff in agencies including the ATO, Defence, ARPANSA, Customs, ABS and Immigration have voted down low-pay offers.

A helpful hint. Following on from our Sydney University tips this week, here’s a suggestion from a tipster: “try asking around about what students and staff think about the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash.” OK, consider this a request: anyone?

NSW Dept of Health’s unique approach to cutting down on data entry. A tipster tells, “my husband is a busy health professional who recently employed a new staff member. He is required to obtain a ‘Working with Children Check’ for all staff and so sent off the relevant form to the NSW Department of Health. Imagine his amazement when he received the following letter in reply. Why should employers have to do a government department’s data entry job for them? Surely he’s fulfilled his obligation by just filling out the @*$#@^* form!!? (And despite their maintaining that it will be quick and easy, er, actually there are about 23 pages of online form-filling to complete.)”;

Dear employer

Thank you for your recent request to lodge checks on your behalf. Unfortunately, due to unforseen staffing issues the Department of Health’s employment screening unit has been unable to progress your checks and is now no  longer able to do the data entry on behalf of your organisation.

The Department of Health is still committed to processing your Working with Children Checks but now requires you to enter your own data for your checks, including the ones you have recently sent to us, using the NSW Health on line lodgement system through Internet Explorer. All other steps in the process and requirements remain the same; This process is quick and easy to set up and will allow you to monitor the status of your checks as you submit them.

Spotted. Crikey loves knowing what happened to ex-MasterChef contestants (surely if they wanted to work as chefs they’d just go get an apprenticeship?) so was interested to spot popular contestant from last year, Peter Kritikides, heading off to work in the law district of Melbourne. His food journey seemed to stay at the same occupation destination …

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey