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An Indian army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest on Saturday, an army spokesman said, after a massive earthquake in Nepal unleashed an avalanche on the world’s tallest mountain at the start of the main climbing season.


Nepal’s Tourism Ministry could only confirm 10 deaths, but spokesman Gyanendra Shrestha said the death toll could rise, and that the avalanche had buried part of the base camp. He said two tents at the camp had been filled with the injured.


One of those killed was Dan Fredinburg, a Google engineer based in California. He died as a result of head injuries when the avalanche hit, according to a statement from the mountaineering company that had taken him to base camp.

A day before the earthquake Mr Fredinburg posted a photograph from his trip to Mount Everest.

Day 22: Ice training with @michelebattelli means frequent stops for morning cappuccino, regardless of… 苏州皮肤管理中心,南宁夜生活,/apw2umkG5q

— Dan Fredinburg (@danfredinburg) April 24, 2015

Tourism ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on Everest when the earthquake struck.


April is one of the most popular times to scale the 8,850-metre peak before rain and clouds cloak it at the end of May. Almost exactly a year ago, an avalanche killed 16 Nepali guides in what was the single deadliest day on the mountain.

Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude quake was the strongest to hit Nepal for 81 years. It also shook neighbouring India, China and Bangladesh. Early on Sunday, the official death toll stood at more than 1,300 people in Nepal.


Romanian climber Alex Gavan made a desperate appeal for a helicopter to fly in and evacuate climbers: “Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap.”


Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a Danish climber, said about 40 people were being treated in a makeshift hospital at a tent at base camp. He said many of those injured had back injuries from being hit by rocks and ice when running from the avalanche.


The poor visibility after the first avalanche meant it was “difficult to see the following avalanches, and there are so many – maybe one every 5 min. – that I have stopped counting”, Pedersen said on Facebook.


Mohan Krishna Sapkota, joint secretary in the Nepalese tourism ministry, said the government was struggling to assess the damage on Everest because of poor phone coverage.


“The trekkers are scattered all around the base camp and some had even trekked further up,” Sapkota said. “It is almost impossible to get in touch with anyone.”


Choti Sherpa, who works at the Everest Summiteers Association, said she had been unable to call her family and colleagues on the mountain. “Everyone is trying to contact each other, but we can’t,” she said. “We are all very worried.”


Last year’s tragedy prompted the Sherpa guides to complain that their safety was being neglected, but there were no immediate recriminations on Saturday.


“This will definitely have some impact on climbing activity, but this is a natural disaster. No one can do anything,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.


At the Annapurna mountain range, where scores were killed in the nation’s worst trekking accident last year, many hikers were stranded after the earthquake, according to messages on social media, but no fatalities had been reported.


Stan Adhikari, who runs the Mountain House lodge in Pokhara near the mountain range, said the city had escaped the worst of the damage. “There hasn’t been much damage,” Adhikari said.


He said there were about two dozen guests at his lodge, including people from Europe, the United States and China. The road from Pokhara to Kathmandu was not passable but he hoped it would open on Sunday.  

Hawthorn are bracing for the short-term loss of defender Brian Lake to a knee injury, coach Alastair Clarkson says.


And forward Paul Puopolo also faces a stint on the AFL sidelines after damaging a hamstring in an eight-point away defeat to Port Adelaide on Saturday night.

Lake was hurt in just the seventh minute, suffering a medial ligament strain which Clarkson said didn’t appear overly serious.

“We’re uncertain on the severity of it,” he said.

“I’d suggest that because he couldn’t come back on, it was too unstable, that he’d be very, very unlikely to play next week.

“But he is testing okay post-game so we will see how he goes.”

Clarkson noted Lake and fellow key back James Frawley (chest) had both been forced substitutes in the Hawks’ two losses this season.

“I don’t think there is a side in the competition that copes well when a key back goes down,” he said.

“Frawley went down in the Essendon game and Lake went down in this game.

“With nearly every other position on the ground, even if a ruck goes down you have got a second ruck – but you haven’t got a key back sitting on the bench or in the substitute’s vest so it hurts you when those guys go down.”

Hawthorn were blitzed early by Port, who held a 58-point break midway through the second quarter.

“They had a bit of luck, it would be fair to say. They were kicking goals from everywhere, it didn’t matter what angle or what distance,” Clarkson said of the Power.

“Sometimes you have just got to wait for the tide to turn, luck can’t play out that way for four quarters all to one side.”

Clarkson stressed that comment wasn’t disparaging of Port.

“They made their own luck,” he said.

“They were harder at the contest and the luck sometimes falls your way and they deserved that becauise they did play very well early in the game.”

“Hooligan behaviour has led to slight injuries to 35 police officers,” the Serbian Interior Ministry said in a statement.


“Police reacted professionally and efficiently, quelling a conflict started by fans which could have led to calling the game off and other serious consequences.

“Before, during and after the game, 41 individuals were arrested and police also turned back a van from (the northern city of) Zrenjanin loaded with rocks and bricks.”

The match ended in a 0-0 draw that left league leaders Partizan five points clear of second-placed Red Star with six matches remaining.

The start of the game, which has a long history of crowd trouble, was delayed for 45 minutes after home Red Star fans pelted riot police with seats and flares, forcing officers to retreat from the north tier that houses the club’s diehard fans.

When reinforcements arrived the police returned to the terraces and pushed the supporters back.

One area of the north tier was emptied and when the match finally got underway it produced a tepid first half with Darko Lazovic going close for champions Red Star and Stefan Babovic missing a good chance for Partizan.

Most of the fireworks were confined to the terraces where both sets of fans lit dozens of flares and hurled several stun grenades on to the athletics track, keeping fire officers busy as they dashed around with buckets of water.

Play was again held up for several minutes midway through the second half for clouds of billowing smoke to clear after visiting supporters set off fireworks on a warm evening in central Belgrade.

Partizan dominated after the interval with home keeper Predrag Rajkovic denying Darko Brasanac and a Red Star defender clearing a Gregor Balazic effort off the line.

Teenage striker Luka Jovic missed Red Star’s best chance when Partizan keeper Zivko Zivkovic closed him down and parried his fierce shot from inside the penalty box.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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When Chris Wark was diagnosed with stage-three colon cancer at 26, he was told his best chance of survival was surgery followed by chemotherapy.


A course of “adjuvant” chemotherapy is a standard response to a cancer diagnosis and one endorsed by mainstream medicine. But Mr Wark wasn’t convinced.  He had surgery to remove a tumour from his large intestine but decided to forgo chemotherapy in favour of a “hardcore nutrition plan,” which saw him swap meat, dairy and processed foods for salads and vegetable juices.

He claims nutrition helped his body heal the cancer expected to claim his life.

But Sydney oncologist Professor Martin Tattersall says science doesn’t back that up.

“I think the notion that a cancer patient can be cured by a change in nutrition is not something for which there is much evidence,” he says.

Belle Gibson confessesProfessor Tattersall says that if cancer is removed by surgery before it has spread to the blood stream or lymph nodes, that cancer is cured. He says in such cases, chemotherapy afterward is an “insurance policy” to reduce that chance of cancer cells regrowing.

Seven years later, cancer free and convinced it wasn’t all a fluke, Chris Wark launched a website called Chris beat cancer: A chemo-free survivor’s health blog in 2010. On his website he offers information about nutrition, testimonials from other cancer patients and a personal “Health and Cancer Coaching” service. A one-hour coaching call costs $125 and a two-hour call costs $195. He notes on the site that he is not a doctor and has no medical training.

Mr Wark is one of many “wellness bloggers” around the world who share their experiences online, often rejecting traditional medicine in favour of natural therapies, diet, lifestyle and spirituality. The wellness movement has grown dramatically in the past decade, fuelled by social media and a growing number of people using the internet to discuss “natural” health alternatives.

Other high-profile bloggers include Australia’s Belle Gibson, whose claim that she beat terminal brain cancer using natural therapies was later discredited, and Jess Ainscough, whose Wellness Warrior blog amassed legions of devotees before her death earlier this year after a seven-year battle with cancer.

Critics say wellness bloggers pose a risk to vulnerable patients who might choose untested natural therapies over evidence-based medicine at the expense of their health. But bloggers like Mr Wark say they are simply offering information to people who are looking for options outside mainstream medicine.

In 2010, 42,844 people died of cancer, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Of that number, 24,328 were male and 18,516 female.

Treatments that come under the “wellness” bracket include complementary – which work alongside conventional therapies – and alternative, which are used instead of conventional medicine.

Professor Tattersall says he has seen a huge shift in patient expectations since he started out in the 1970s, and he now spends a lot of time discussing with patients treatments they have seen on TV or the internet.

He says he doesn’t advocate for alternative therapies because most haven’t been scientifically investigated and says while it is possible to heal cancer with non-drug therapies – “surgery is the obvious example” – he says people should be wary of putting their faith in untested treatments.

But Professor Tattersall does see a place for complementary therapies.

“I’ve seen patients in whom the addition of complementary-style medicines might have been helpful to their wellbeing,” he says. “I have no doubt that acupuncture and relaxation therapy can help patients to cope with the side effects of traditional medicine.”

Professor Tattersall says he believes people put their faith in natural therapies and incredible stories of survival because it gives them a sense of control over their bodies and their treatment.

Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO of Cancer Australia, has a similar view. She says patients often feel empowered by making decisions around their treatment rather than taking direction from medical staff.

“It’s quite a disempowering position to be in so the search for or use of alternative therapies may be a way of gaining control over the treatment of their disease,” she says. “There’s also the perception out there that natural therapies may be safer. There are lots of different reasons.”

She says Cancer Australia encourages patients to speak openly with their doctors about alternative and complementary treatments.

“I think doctors today are really open to the conversation and in fact encourage the conversation and are sensitive to the needs of patients around taking some control of their situation.”

But Chris Wark found doctors he talked to were reluctant to advocate for treatments outside their discipline.

“The oncologist I saw first told me I was insane if I didn’t do chemotherapy,” he says. “I never went back to him.”

And he questions why some doctors don’t look beyond chemotherapy.

“The traditional treatments aren’t working for most patients,” he says. “[Doctors in the US] are trapped in a system that pays them really well to do what they’re doing, regardless of the results.”

Queensland blogger Belle Gibson, once hailed as a champion of the wellness movement, took a supreme fall from grace this year after she admitted lying about having terminal cancer and curing it with natural therapies and diet. The ‘Whole Pantry’ app creator said in March that she may have been misdiagnosed by doctors after questions were raised about the veracity of her story. That same month, allegations surfaced that she had withheld money made through her organisation that had been pledged to charities. But in April she admitted to making the cancer claims up, telling The Australian Women’s Weekly, “None of it is true.”

In the US, Chris Wark says his blog gets thousands of hits each week and he is constantly inundated with messages from readers.

The sheer reach of the internet and the fact that bloggers like he and Ms Gibson are able to influence so many people concerns medical experts.

“[On the internet], so many statements are made as statements of fact, which are very hard to discern from opinion,” Dr Zorbas says.

“The person who’s reading the information or subject to that information is in a very difficult position to try and understand the validity of it and what confidence they should place in the information.”

Professor Tattersall says the other risk is that people adopting complementary treatments without telling their doctor might be unaware that some can interfere with chemotherapy.

“There is evidence that large doses of vitamin C can interfere with the effectiveness of some components of conventional cancer treatments,” he says.

“So many statements are made as statements of fact, which are very hard to discern from opinion.”

But Mr Wark says his blog is for information, not medical advice.

“I’m not a doctor. I don’t claim to give medical advice. My site is for information and education,” he says. “There are disclaimers all over it.”

But Helen Zorbas says that is not true in Australia where funding for cancer research is largely independent.

A spokesman for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – Australia’s biggest funding provider for cancer research – told SBS that in the last 10 years it has awarded 17 grants for research into complementary/alternative cancer treatments totalling over $10 million and 22 grants for cancer/nutrition research totalling over $18 million.

According to NHMRC records, there are five active grants for research into complementary/alternative cancer treatments and five active grants for research into cancer/nutrition currently under way in Australia.

Ms Ainscough reportedly worked with both conventional and non-conventional medical practitioners over the years. However, her stance when she first launched her blog in 2010 was strongly natural, and she outlined how and why she chose to go with Gerson therapy over conventional medicine to treat her cancer.

After her death, some members of the medical community spoke out against Ms Ainscough’s decision to use natural treatments.

Surgical oncologist and blogger David Gorski wrote on his website that Jess had “one shot” and didn’t take it.

“What saddens me even more is that I can understand why she didn’t take it, as, through a horrible quirk of fate, her one shot involved incredibly disfiguring surgery and the loss of her arm,” he wrote.

However Ms Ainscough’s family rejected this claim in a statement released after her death.

“It has been speculated by people who have never met or treated Jess that, had she chosen to amputate her arm or undergo further conventional treatment, her chances of survival would have increased,” the statement read. “Her treating oncologists do not agree with this uninformed view.”

Chris Wark says he had communicated with Ms Ainscough over the years and was upset by the commentary surrounding her death.

“People have this flawed logic where they look at her and they say, ‘Wow, alternative therapy doesn’t work; nutrition doesn’t work. Because if it worked she would not have died’,” he says.

“If one person is proof that that nutrition and alternative therapies don’t work, then the 580,000 people who die of cancer each year in the US alone certainly proves that conventional therapies don’t work.”

Professor Tattersall says he still believes in miracles and has seen some incredible turnarounds in patients over the years, but is cautious of attributing those instances to any one thing.

“The cause of miracles is unknown but divine intervention is one, misdiagnosis another one,” he says.

“Why do some patients do vastly better than other patients?” 

“I think it’s fair to say we don’t know.”

This story was updated on April 23 after Belle Gibson admitted she lied about having cancer.


Manly coach Geoff Toovey says his team need to find a way to play like they’re playing Melbourne every time they take the field.


The Sea Eagles are running last in the NRL with only two wins, but both have come against the competition-leading Storm.

They got their second in Melbourne with a come from behind 12-10 win over the Storm in their Anzac day match at AAMI Park.

Toovey said his team always lifted to play against the Storm, with the clubs sharing a fierce long-time rivalry.

“It’s a good rivalry there with Melbourne and that probably brings the best out in the players,” Toovey said.

“We have to try to somehow manufacture that for when we play again.”

Toovey wasn’t getting carried away that the gutsy win was the panacea to his team’s problems.

He did laud an improved defensive effort and better ball control

“Consistency is very important,” Toovey said.

“They’ve set a level and we need to match it every week.”

Storm skipper Cameron Smith said the Sea Eagles were a much better team than their lowly ladder position suggested.

“We didn’t have any thoughts about playing the last-placed team heading into the game,” Smith said.

“They’d won one match heading into the game and that was against us and they’ve done it again.

“They’ve been right in games all year … you can never write off a champion side and maybe this win might spark them up again.”

Souring the win for Manly was a likely season-ending injury to second-rower Jamie Buhrer.

“The initial news isn’t great and the prognosis is that he will be gone for the year,” Toovey said.

“It looks like he’s done his other cruciate so it’s very bad news for him and the team.

“He was outstanding and was having a great game.”

Manly had Steve Matai and captain Brett Stewart both put on report for alleged high tackles.

“I couldn’t even figure out what they were for,” Toovey said.

England’s Justin Rose, Canadian David Hearn and Americans Blayne Barber and Jerry Kelly were a further stroke back but no player in the field had completed more than 12 holes when play was suspended for the day in fading light.


Better weather is forecast for the New Orleans area on Sunday when organisers hope to conclude the tournament. Tee times for the final round have been scheduled for between 10 a.m. local (1500 GMT) and 12 noon.

“Fifty-four holes is not in the mix,” Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competitions, told reporters.

White said the goal was to complete the tournament as scheduled but added that, if further bad weather intervened on Sunday, “we would be here Monday if we have (lengthy) delays.”

Earlier on Saturday, Australian Day birdied two of his last four holes after play resumed in the weather-delayed second round to card a seven-under 65 and seize a one-shot lead.

The highest-ranked player in the field at the TPC Louisiana, Day drained a 34-footer at the par-four 15th before signing off with a tap-in from inside two feet at the par-five last.

“It’s taken a while but we got it in,” Day, who won his third career title on the PGA Tour with a playoff victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in February, told Golf Channel about the weather-disrupted second round.

“I came out today and played some really nice golf. Just happy where I’m at, I’m enjoying myself and hopefully the (bad) weather can stay away.”

Day’s 65 left him at 12-under 132, a stroke in front of Americans Hudson Swafford (66), Daniel Berger (67) and Chris Stroud (66).

Swafford had completed his 66 on Friday before approaching thunderstorms forced play to be suspended for the day with the afternoon wave of players still out on the course.

Berger and Stroud each recorded one birdie in their last three holes on Saturday morning to edge up the leaderboard.

The third round began soon after but further thunderstorms forced play to be suspended at 12.14 p.m. local time, wiping out nearly five hours of the day’s play.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom)

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon wants his team to develop a ruthless edge – and it won’t be a comfortable experience.


For the first time in their history, Fremantle are unbeaten after four AFL rounds – but only just.

The Dockers led Sydney by 48 points at half-time on Saturday night, but that lead was whittled down to just three points midway through the final quarter.

A steadying goal to Matthew Pavlich was enough to lift Fremantle to a 11.8 (74) to 8.12 (60) win, but Lyon wants his charges to understand there’s no such thing as a “safe” lead in modern footy.

That point was rammed home in Saturday night’s other match, where Hawthorn almost pinched a win off Port Adelaide despite trailing by 58 points at one stage.

“You’re never safe. Not against quality,” Lyon said.

“You’re hoping to hear that siren while you’re in front.”

Sydney coach John Longmire agreed, but next time he wants to be the coach worrying about whether his charges can to hold on to a huge lead.

“The best advice would be to not get 50 points down,” Longmire said with a wry smile.

“You can’t afford to give anyone starts. You have to get things right from the very start, against any team – let alone the best teams.”

Fremantle led West Coast by 79 points in round three. But a second-half fadeout saw that margin trimmed to 30 by the final siren.

Lyon said it was imperative for his players to put away opposition sides when they have the chance.

“Human nature is once you get comfortable, everyone breathes out and relaxes a little bit,” Lyon said.

“And on the other side you feel like you need to get going. That’s about being a ruthless AFL team, and we’ve clearly got some work to do.

“I think we learnt that when challenged, we were able to get the momentum back. And (we also learned that) against quality you can’t relax for a minute.

“We’re really pleased we take the four points. We’ve got a lot to learn and we need to keep improving.”

Lyon scoffed at any talk he would rest players for Sunday’s MCG clash with Melbourne, who are 2-2 following their impressive win over Richmond.

Sydney face the Western Bulldogs at the SCG next Saturday, and Longmire said it was imperative for his team to stick their tackles from the outset.

“With our first half against Fremantle, we missed too many tackles,” Longmire said.

“The difference between effective and ineffective tackles is a key stat in football.”

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan will face the firing squad on Tuesday unless Indonesia’s president has a last-minute change of heart.


The Bali Nine pair was given notice on Saturday of Indonesia’s intention to execute them in a minimum of 72 hours, during a meeting on Nusakambangan Island.

Lawyer Julian McMahon returned from the island with three self-portraits by Sukumaran – one of them dated April 25 and signed “72 hours just started”.

The Chan and Sukumaran families are making their way to Indonesia and it’s understood they will be allowed to visit the men on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the thoughts and prayers of many Australians were with them.

“I spoke to Mr Sukumaran’s mother Raji yesterday and assured her the government would continue to seek clemency from Indonesian President Widodo for both men,” she said in a statement.

“I again respectfully call on the President of Indonesia to reconsider his refusal to grant clemency,” she said.

“It is not too late for a change of heart.”

A lawyer for Nigerian Raheem Salami, who is set to face the firing squad alongside Chan, Sukumaran and up to seven others, says the prisoners were told their executions would be on Tuesday.

Utomo Karim watched as they were told individually.

“Myuran, I didn’t see much,” he told reporters.

“Andrew, he’s OK. Basically, they looked tough.”

Mr Utomo believes only seven prisoners were given the news, and there may be outstanding legal issues with others who had been named among the ten to be executed.

They included Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, who has reportedly been granted a reprieve after lawyers challenged an administrative matter in his case.

Jakarta had promised to respect the prisoners’ legal challenges before setting an execution date.

However, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso has a second appeal application before the courts and Indonesian Zainal Abidin is still awaiting a decision on his.

Chan and Sukumaran have challenges before the Constitutional Court and Judicial Commission that raise questions about the sentencing and the clemency process.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is set to discuss the executions with French leader Francois Hollande on Monday.

Mr Abbott has called Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 34, “well and truly reformed characters” after their decade in prison for the foiled heroin smuggling plot.

‘My Brother Myu’

Myuran Sukumaran’s sister Brintha has posted online an emotional plea for the life of her brother to be saved.

“My brother is now a good man and after 10 years in prison, he has taught so many Indonesian prisoners about art and about how to live outside in the world and have a good and productive life,” she says.

Wallabies vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper is hoping the ARU’s decision to free up elite overseas-based players for Test selection allows Matt Giteau to join one of the most exclusive clubs in Australian rugby.


Ashley-Cooper is among only five Australians to have earned more than 100 Test caps, having famously posed in cricket whites in the Wallabies’ team photo before raising his bat against the All Blacks last year.

The versatile back joined George Gregan (139 Tests), Nathan Sharpe (116), George Smith (111) and David Campese (101) in reaching his century and is delighted to be one of the big beneficiaries of the ARU’s policy change.

The 31-year-old stalwart could finish 2015 with as many as 115 Tests under his belt before potentially adding even more to his tally while enjoying life in Bordeaux after the World Cup.

“I said long before even the speculation about these change of rules, that I’d put my hand up to play for Australia,” said Ashley-Cooper, currently on 104 Tests.

“Whether or not I’ll be fast enough or sharp enough to do that, that’d be up to me in years to come.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting for any of those rules to change, but I see it as a great reward for guys who have given either seven years or 60 caps of service to the Australian Rugby Union.

“In the end, I think you’ll see that it will actually retain young players and give them that incentive to reach that criteria and give them an option later on in their career.

“It’s a win win for the player that’s reached that goal and also for the ARU that’s going to be able to conserve a little bit of money to put into the youth of Australian rugby.”

Above all, Ashley-Cooper is chuffed at the prospect of three of Australia’s finest players rekindling their international careers – possibly as early as the Rugby Championship in – and most notably Giteau.

The midfield playmaker has been stranded on 92 Tests since being controversially overlooked by former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

“There’s a few guys there that are eligible – George Smith, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, all close friends of mine that I’ve spent many years with, many Tests with, many tours with,” Ashley-Cooper said.

“So that could be a special moment.

“But I think obviously highlighting Gits’ career, it gives him a really good opportunity to reach that 100 Tests that he deserves.

“So I think it’s up to him now. The ball’s in his court to be playing well and performing well to granted selection in the World Cup squad.”


George Gregan – 139 Tests

Nathan Sharpe – 116 Tests

George Smith – 111 Tests

Adam Ashley-Cooper – 104 Tests

David Campese – 101 Tests

Matt Giteau – 92 Tests

Seniors have a blunt message for the federal government: leave savers alone.


Over-50s lobby group National Seniors Australia has joined the opposition to a bank deposits tax, saying people who save are an easy target for governments.

“They’re low hanging fruit for governments who are keen to grab money,” chief executive Michael O’Neill told AAP.

The tax – a 0.05 per cent levy on deposits up to $250,000 first proposed by Labor – is expected to be unveiled in the May 12 budget in a move that would raise about $500 million a year.

The Australian Bankers Association has said the tax would punish savers and self-funded retirees already struggling with low interest rates.

Mr O’Neill says it doesn’t make sense to tax people who save money when all the commentary is about drawing down debt for the nation.

“Of course at a time when term deposits are paying three-fifths to five-eighths of stuff all, that just all the more reinforces the negativity about that.”

He said the deposit tax issue was similar to Labor reducing the period bank accounts and life insurance policies can be inactive before they are transferred to the government to three years from seven years.

That increased the amount transferred to ASIC as unclaimed money from about $70 million in 2011/12 to $550 million in 2012/13.

Seniors welcomed the coalition government’s announcement last month that it was restoring the time period back to seven years, but Mr O’Neill said that had now been tempered by the talk of a deposits tax.

“That was all about reducing the deficit, for no good reason beyond that, and this savings tax is of a similar nature.

“Leave savers alone.”