Sunday, 20 May 2018

A call to arms in support of Our ABC


The Guardian, 17 May 2018:

The announcement in last week’s budget that the ABC’s funding indexation will be frozen for three years from July 2019 is the latest in a series of extraordinary attacks by a government that displays an unprecedented level of hostility to the national broadcaster. It represents a real cut to the broadcaster’s operating costs of $84m.

Added to the $254m cut over five years announced by then-communications minister Malcolm Turnbull in November 2014, and a $28m cut to the enhanced newsgathering service in the 2016 budget, this brings the money taken out of our national broadcaster since the election of the Coalition government to over a quarter of a billion dollars.

Contrast this with the former Labor government’s approach. In 2009, when I worked in the office of communications minister Stephen Conroy, the ABC was awarded the largest funding increase since its incorporation in 1983, with $136.4m in new money to fund the creation of the ABC Kids’ channel and 90 hours of new Australian drama. Four years later, the ABC was given $89.4m to set up the newsgathering service and enhance the digital delivery of ABC programs.

In addition to record funding boosts, Conroy, arguably the best friend in government the ABC has ever had, also ensured the ABC charters were amended to specifically require them to deliver digital services; overhauled the board appointment process to put it at arm’s length from the government of the day; and, in a move that enraged the Murdoch empire, created legislation that specified that any international broadcasting service funded by the government could only be delivered by the ABC. This came after the government’s refusal to award carriage of the Australia Network to News Corp in 2011, a decision that was regarded both at home and internationally as common sense by everyone other than the owners of Sky News.

All this is now under attack. The Turnbull government seems determined not only to undo every measure of financial and legislative support implemented by the last Labor government, but to undermine the ABC’s operations so thoroughly that its ability to provide the services its charter requires will likely be devastated.

The legislation passed in early 2013 prevented the incoming Coalition government from reopening the tender process to award the Australia Network to Sky – so they shut it down entirely instead.

Five years later, the Lowy Institute laments that “[o]nce a significant player in what the British Council calls the Great Game of the Airwaves, the ABC’s purpose-designed, multiplatform international services have suffered near-terminal decline”.

"We must rise up against this concerted campaign of funding cuts and attempts to limit the activities of our national broadcasters"

As far as the board appointment process goes, Turnbull as prime minister and his communications minister Mitch Fifield are doing their best to ignore it: two recent appointees, Minerals Council boss Vanessa Guthrie and Sydney Institute Director Joseph Gersh, were not recommended for appointment by the independent selection panel. Fifield is relying on clauses in the legislation governing the appointment process that allow the minister to appoint from outside the recommended list in exceptional circumstances, but has publicly offered no reason why these candidates were more urgently required on the ABC board than those recommended as more qualified by the selection panel.

It’s also impossible to discover whether the minister has tabled the statement to parliament giving his reasons for ignoring the advice of the selection panel, as required by the legislation. If he has, perhaps those statements explain why Guthrie and Gersh are the most qualified candidates to provide governance of our most trusted source of news.

Despite the selection criteria set out in Conroy’s legislation, the ABC board now includes no one other than the staff-elected director and the managing director, Michelle Guthrie, with media experience and, despite the full board having been appointed by this government, they seem unable to make a case to maintain the ABC’s funding.

But the biggest danger to the ABC is the government’s agenda to reduce its digital services, and it’s here where the ABC – and, in this case, SBS as well – face a truly existential threat. The so-called “competitive neutrality inquiry” into the national broadcasters, currently underway, has ostensibly been launched to satisfy Pauline Hanson’s demands for an inquiry into the ABC in return for her support for last year’s appalling package of media “reforms”, which will reduce diversity and local content across the commercial broadcast media.

Don’t believe it for a second. While Hanson’s hatred of the ABC will assist any future government moves to neuter the broadcaster’s digital activities, this inquiry is yet another gift to News Corp and the commercial media organisations, who have been baying for the ABC’s blood since it arrived on the airwaves more than three-quarters of a century ago.

The $30m of government money given, apparently with few strings attached, to Foxtel last year was really just “compensation” for the fact that the commercial TV operators got a windfall gain with the abolition of their broadcast licence fees and replacement with spectrum fees. This saves the broadcasters around $90m per year (money which is forgone government revenue, by the way) so, of course, Foxtel had to be similarly rewarded for … running a commercial business in a competitive market.

Read the full article here.

North Coast Voices12 May 2018,"Time to show support for the ABC"

Once a banker always a a banker


via @ETUVIC

There are currently fifteen [15] members of the Turnbull Government who formerly worked in the banking, finance, insurance, and/or for-profit superannuation industries and three [3] who worked for large accountancy firmss or lobbying groups.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Meme of the Week


Found on Twitter

Tweets of the Week




Friday, 18 May 2018

The people attracted to a career in Tzar Peter’s federal super ministry.....



Brisbane Times, 16 May 2018:

The information chief at Peter Dutton’s new Home Affairs super ministry allegedly ordered the deletion of a government record relevant to a request under freedom of information laws when he was a senior executive at NSW’s transport agency.

Tim Catley, who began his high-ranking role at Home Affairs in February, is accused of directing staff at Transport for NSW to delete government information in 2016, in witness statements given during an investigation by the state’s Information and Privacy Commission.

Mr Catley vehemently denies he asked anyone to delete government records. “The allegation that I asked anyone to delete an email is not true and it is not technologically possible to do that anyway [at the transport agency]. Professionally and ethically I wouldn’t do anything like that,” he told the Herald.

Following a referral from the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the state’s Information Commission launched an investigation behind closed doors into the deletion of a record at Transport for NSW to avoid public disclosure 18 months ago.

During that investigation, the Information Commission was told of a culture inside Transport for NSW of suppressing bad news, meaning that higher levels within the department were not told of potential cost blowouts on projects.

The investigation also heard that warnings about this culture of suppression were relayed to the then secretary of the department, Tim Reardon, now NSW’s top public servant as head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

A preliminary report on the Information Commission’s investigation, seen by the Herald, found that a Transport for NSW executive issued directions to delete government information relevant to a request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (GIPA), the state’s freedom of information legislation.

“The investigation has found that the executive directed the deletion of records that were germane to a GIPA access application and that staff acted on that direction,” the report, by Information and Privacy commissioner Elizabeth Tydd, said.

Ms Tydd’s report did not name Mr Catley as the executive who directed the deletion. But the witness statements to the commission assert that it was Mr Catley who gave the direction.

Despite her finding about the direction, Ms Tydd determined there were no grounds to refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney-General….

According to Ms Tydd’s analysis, if the official who destroys the information is unaware the information is subject to a freedom-of-information request, the person who directed them to delete that information did not commit an offence.

And because other staff at Transport for NSW later ensured the deleted document was retrieved, the commissioner found the government agency had not failed in its duty.

According to evidence given during the investigation, Mr Catley raised concerns at a meeting in July 2016 about emails that detailed a cost blowout in the $425 million “Next Generation Infrastructure Services” project. An application for information about the IT project sought under the GIPA Act was also discussed at the meeting.

That same month, Mr Catley allegedly directed a more junior staff member to delete an email about the exit from Transport for NSW of a manager who had a senior role overseeing the IT project, according to witness statements given to the Information Commission.
At the time, Mr Catley had responsibility for technology at Transport for NSW as its chief information officer, a role he had held since 2012.
Early this year, a “confidential” report by a consulting firm commissioned by Transport for NSW revealed a concerning picture of the state of IT at the state’s transport agencies.......

Federal Circuit Court on Thursday sentenced Trek North Tours owner operator to 12 months' prison and fined him $67,000


Leigh Alan Jorgensen, Financial Review, 13 May 2018

In the continuing matter of A.C.N. 156 455 828 Pty Ltd & Anor.

Fair Work Ombudsman, media release, 14 May 2018:


Jail term imposed in Fair Work Ombudsman’s first contempt of court case

A Northern Queensland business operator has been jailed – and then released pending the outcome of his appeal – as a result of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s first contempt-of-court action.

On Thursday May 10, the Federal Circuit Court sentenced Leigh Alan Jorgensen - the owner-operator of a Cairns company trading as Trek North Tours – to a 12-month jail term and fined him $84,956 for committing contempt of court by contravening a freezing order that applied to funds in his company’s accounts.

The Court ordered that Jorgensen’s jail term be suspended after he had spent 10 days in jail on the condition of payment of the fine.

Jorgensen sought an urgent stay of the orders in the Federal Court and lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence. In accordance with her model litigant obligations, the Fair Work Ombudsman agreed to the stay on conditions. On May 11, the Federal Court ordered that his sentence be stayed and Jorgensen be released from jail on conditions, pending the outcome of his appeal.

A Court date has not yet been set for the appeal hearing but an order has been made that it be expedited.

The matter is the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced a contempt of court action and the first time a jail term has been imposed as a result of the Agency’s actions.

Judge Salvatore Vasta imposed the jail term after finding Jorgensen had committed contempt of court when he contravened a freezing order the Fair Work Ombudsman secured against his company in 2015. 

Freezing orders were imposed in the Federal Circuit Court in 2015 preventing any dispersion of Jorgensen’s and his company’s assets until such time as they complied with penalty and back-payment orders resulting from the Fair Work Ombudsman taking legal action against them for underpaying five back-packers on 417 working holiday visas in 2013 and 2014.

The relevant orders from that legal action, imposed by the Federal Circuit Court in June 2015, were for Jorgensen to pay a $12,000 penalty and his company to pay a $55,000 penalty and back-pay the backpackers in full, all by 17 July, 2015.

The Fair Work Ombudsman took the step of securing freezing orders against both Jorgensen and his company after both failed to pay the amounts owed by the due date and receiving information that gave rise to concerns that Jorgensen would divert company assets to avoid payment of the penalties and back-pay.

At the time, Jorgensen’s communications with the Fair Work Ombudsman suggested he was prepared to ‘bankrupt’ his company to avoid paying the penalties and back-pay order.

Jorgensen had also previously told Fair Work inspectors investigating the underpayments that the backpackers ‘would not get a cent’ in back-pay.

After the freezing orders were imposed, Jorgensen paid the penalty imposed on him personally into Court, resulting in the freezing order against him being lifted.
However, Jorgensen’s company failed to pay its penalty and failed to back-pay the workers, resulting in the freezing order against his company remaining in place.

The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action against Jorgensen for contempt of Court last year, alleging that Jorgensen committed the offence of contempt of court in August 2015 when he contravened the freezing order against his company by transferring a total of $41,035 from two frozen accounts into his family trust account.
Judge Vasta found that the Fair Work Ombudsman had presented evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Jorgensen committed the offence.

Pending the outcome of his appeal, the Federal Court has released Jorgensen on conditions including that he surrender his passport, remain in Queensland and report to Police twice a week.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says that the commencement of these proceedings demonstrates that her Agency is prepared to use every tool at its disposal to ensure justice is served.

“We will use every lever open to us to ensure the integrity of the administration of justice and compliance with court orders imposed under the Fair Work Act 2009.
“This includes taking unprecedented new actions available to us across the legal framework such as this one.”

BACKGROUND

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), media release, 6 February 2017:

17-023MR Former company director charged with making false or misleading statements

Former company director Leigh Alan Jorgensen, of Cairns, Queensland, has been charged with making a false or misleading statement to ASIC.

In February 2016, Mr Jorgensen lodged with ASIC a Form 6010 to voluntarily deregister A.C.N 156 455 828 Pty Ltd (ACN 156 455 828), in which ASIC alleges that Mr Jorgensen falsely and misleadingly claimed the company had no outstanding liabilities. At the time, ACN 156 455 828 had an outstanding liability owing to the Commonwealth and Mr Jorgensen was the sole director.

The charge was brought against Mr Jorgensen following an ASIC investigation into his conduct as a director of the company.

Mr Jorgensen is due to appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court on 21 March 2017.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter.

Background

The matter was brought to ASIC's attention by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), who initiated legal proceedings against Mr Jorgensen and ACN 156 455 828 for unpaid employee entitlements. The FWO obtained judgement against ACN 156 455 828 which, in part, required the company to pay the Commonwealth a pecuniary penalty of $55,000. The order was obtained by the FWO before Mr Jorgensen lodged the Form 6010 to deregister ACN 156 455 828.

As a result of ASIC's investigation, Mr Jorgensen has been charged with contravening section 1308(2) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Mr Jorgensen ceased as a director of ACN 156 455 828 on 1 March 2016. A Liquidator was appointed to ACN 156 455 828 on 29 July 2016.

Editor's note 1:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates' Court on 21 March 2017, the matter was adjourned for further mention until 16 May 2017.
Editor's note 2:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on 16 May 2017, the matter was adjourned for further mention on 27 June 2017.
Editor's note 3:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on  27 June 2017, the matter was adjourned for further mention on 25 July 2017.
Editor's note 4:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on  25 July 2017, the matter was adjourned for further mention on 22 August 2017.
Editor's note 5:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on  22 August 2017, the matter was adjourned to 5 September 2017.
Editor's note 6:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on  7 September 2017, the matter was adjourned for further mention on 19 September 2017. 
Editor's note 7:  
A warrant was issued for Mr Jorgensen following his failure to attend the Cairns Magistrates Court on 19 September 2017.
Editor's note 8:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on  27 September 2017, the matter was adjourned to 3 October 2017.
Editor's note 9:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on 3 October 2017, the matter was set down for a committal hearing on 24 November 2017.
Editor's note 10:
Following a hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on 24 November 2017, the matter was adjourned to 13 February 2018.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Liberals continue to behave badly in 2018 - Part Five



The Age, 8 May 2018:

A branch of the NSW Liberal Party is set to debate the merits of Sharia-style corporal punishment and a radical proposal to make citizens responsible for sentencing criminals rather than judges.

The notoriously hard-right Carlingford branch, under its colourful president George Popowski, will discuss a push to "straighten out the law and order system" by handing sentencing powers to a panel of 20 members of the public, with no more than 30 per cent from the legal fraternity.

Mr Popowski, who authored the motion, also urged the reintroduction of corporal punishment, arguing it was the "fairest" form of retribution because "we all feel the same pain".

He proposed 10 lashes for theft of a T-shirt, 1000 lashes for stealing a car (2000 if the vehicle is damaged), 5000 lashes for punching a police officer and 20,000 lashes for murder.

The floggings should be "delivered at 10 lashes per hour – every hour from 9am to 5pm, with one hour for lunch", Mr Popowski wrote. The sentence would be doubled for second-time offenders.

The Guardian, 18 March 2018:

The outspoken Liberal National party MP George Christensen has hit out at his own government for its funding of abortion services in Australia and around the world.

The federal member for Dawson was joined by the incoming Queensland senator Amanda Stoker on Sunday as they addressed hundreds of pro-lifers at a rally outside state parliament in Brisbane.

Christensen said he was filled with shame when he learned the federal Coalition gave $9.5m to an international planned parenthood agency that he claimed made money from terminations.
 “I’ve got to say that was a disgraceful act,” he said. “It was a very low point I think for our nation.”
Christensen said he would write to the treasurer, Scott Morrison, this week to urge him to divert funding from an international planned parenthood agency to pregnancy, crisis and counselling services for young Australian mothers.

The rogue MP also mobilised the crowd to take action against the state Labor government, which will reintroduce legislation to decriminalise abortion once it receives recommendations from the Law Reform Commission.

“I think we’re about to get a tsunami of bad laws here,” he said. “We might even be seeing something that makes Victoria and the draconian regime they’ve got there look like a walk in the park.”

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Turnbull Government Minister Gets The Dig In - then tries to remove the evidence


This was Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison having second thoughts....


This was the tweeted video Morrison was attempting to hide....
The video still lives on Twitter because although Morrison could be incredibly childish he couldn't be all that original....
Journalist Alice Workman tweeting @nickwray's creation, 11 May 2018

 Even the UnbelievaBill has tag is not original - see Instragram hash tag - and then there is poor Bill D who as @unbelievabill must wonder what is happening to his Twitter mentions.

An insider has finally admitted what any digital native would be well aware of - your personal health information entered into a national database will be no safer that having it up on Facebook


Remembering that a federal government national screening program, working with with a private entity, has already accessed personal information from Medicare without consent of registered individuals and entered these persons into a research program - again without consent - and these individuals apparently could not easily opt out of being listed as a research subject but were often only verbally offered  the option of declining to take part in testing, which presumably meant that health data from other sources was still capable of being collected about them by the program. One has to wonder what the Turnbull Government and medical establishment actually consider patient rights to be in practice when it comes to "My Health Record".

Healthcare IT News, 4 May 2018:

Weeks before the anticipated announcement of the My Health Record opt out period, an insider’s leak has claimed the Australian Digital Health Agency has decided associated risks for consumers “will not be explicitly discussed on the website”.

As the ADHA heads towards the imminent announcement of the three-month window in which Australians will be able to opt out of My Health Record before being signed up to the online health information repository, the agency was caught by surprise today when details emerged in a blog post by GP and member of the steering group for the national expansion of MHR, Dr Edwin Kruys.

Kruys wrote that MHR offers “clear benefits” to healthcare through providing clinicians with greater access to discharge summaries, pathology and diagnostic reports, prescription records and more, but said “every digital solution has its pros and cons” and behind-the-scenes risk mitigation has been one of the priorities of the ADHA. However, he claimed Australians may not be made aware of the risks involved in allowing their private medical information to be shared via the Federal Government’s system.

“It has been decided that the risks associated with the MyHR will not be explicitly discussed on the website,” Kruys wrote.

“This obviously includes the risk of cyber attacks and public confidence in the security of the data.”

The most contentious contribution in the post related to the secondary use of Australians’ health information, the framework of which has yet to be announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Contacted by HITNA, the agency moved swiftly to have Kruys delete the paragraph relating to secondary use.

In the comment that has since been removed, Kruys wrote, “Many consumers and clinicians regard secondary use of the MyHR data as a risk. The MyHR will contain a ‘toggle’, giving consumers the option to switch secondary use of their own data on or off.”

Under the My Health Records Act 2012, health information in MHR may be collected, used and disclosed “for any purpose” with the consent of the healthcare recipient. One of the functions of the system operator is “to prepare and provide de-identified data for research and public health purposes”. 

Before these provisions of the act will be implemented, a framework for secondary use of MHR systems data must be established. 

HealthConsult was engaged to assist the Federal Government in developing a draft framework and implementation plan for the process and within its public consultation process in 2017 received supportive submissions from the Australasian College of Health Informatics, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and numerous research institutes, universities, and clinicians’ groups.

Computerworld, 14 May 2018:

Use of both de-identified data and, in some circumstances, identifiable data will be permitted under a new government framework for so-called “secondary use” of data derived from the national eHealth record system. Linking data from the My Health Record system to other datasets is also allowed under some circumstances.

The Department of Health last year commissioned the development of the framework for using My Health Record data for purposes other than its primary purpose of providing healthcare to an individual.

Secondary use can include research, policy analysis and work on improving health services.

Under the new framework, individuals who don’t want their data used for secondary purposes will be required to opt-out. The opt-out process is separate from the procedure necessary for individuals who don’t want an eHealth record automatically created for them (the government last year decided to shift to an opt-out approach for My Health Record)……

Access to the data will be overseen by an MHR Secondary Use of Data Governance Board, which will approve applications to access the system.

Any Australian-based entity with the exception of insurance agencies will be permitted to apply for access the MHR data. Overseas-based applicants “must be working in collaboration with an Australian applicant” for a project and will not have direct access to MHR data.

The data drawn from the records may not leave Australia, but under the framework there is scope for data analyses and reports produced using the data to be shared internationally……

The Department of Health came under fire in 2016 after it released for download supposedly anonymised health data. Melbourne University researchers were able to successfully re-identify a range of data.

Last month the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner revealed that health service providers accounted for almost a quarter of the breaches reported in the first six weeks of operation of the Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) scheme.


Australians who don't want a personal electronic health record will have from July 16 to October 15 to opt-out of the national scheme the federal government announced on Monday.

Every Australian will have a My Health Record unless they choose to opt-out during the three-month period, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

The announcement follows the release of the government’s secondary use of data rules earlier this month that inflamed concerns of patient privacy and data use.


Under the framework, medical information would be made available to third parties from 2020 - including some identifying data for public health and research purposes - unless individuals opted out.

In other news....... 


A cyber attack on Family Planning NSW's website has exposed the personal information of up to 8000 clients, including women who have booked appointments or sought advice about abortion, contraception and other services.

Clients received an email from FPNSW on Monday alerting them that their website had been hacked on Anzac Day.

The compromised data contained information from roughly 8000 clients who had contacted FPNSW via its website in the past 2½ years to make appointments or give feedback.

It included the personal details clients entered via an online form, including names, contact details, dates of birth and the reason for their enquiries….

The website was secured by 10am on April 26, 2018 and all web database information has been secure since that time

SBS News, 14 May 2018:

Clients were told Family Planning NSW was one of several agencies targeted by cybercriminals who requested a bitcoin ransom on April 25…..
The not-for-profit has five clinics in NSW, with more than 28,000 people visiting every year.

The most recent Digital Rights Watch State of Digital Rights (May 2018) report can be found here.

The report’s 8 recommendations include:

Repeal of the mandatory metadata retention scheme

Introduction of a Commonwealth statutory civil cause of action for serious invasions of privacy

A complete cessation of commercial espionage conducted by the Australian Signals Directorate

Changes to copyright laws so they are flexible, transparent and provide due process to users

Support for nation states to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in the digital age

Expand the definition of sensitive information under the Privacy Act to specifically include behavioural biometrics

Increase measures to educate private businesses and other entities of their responsibilities under the Privacy Act regarding behavioural biometrics, and the right to pseudonymity

Introduce a compulsory register of entities that collect static and behavioural biometric data, to provide the public with information about the entities that are collecting biometric data and for what purpose

The loopholes opened with the 2011 reform of the FOI laws should be closed by returning ASD, ASIO, ASIS and other intelligence agencies to the ambit of the FOI Act, with the interpretation of national security as a ground for refusal of FOI requests being reviewed and narrowed

Telecommunications providers and internet platforms must develop processes to increase transparency in content moderation and, make known what content was removed or triggered an account suspension.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

It doesn't pay to tell outright political lies on national television....


.... because there are bound to be old election campaign warriors watching.

Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison, ABC Insiders interview, 13 May 2018, telling an untruth:

“You tell me when a government in their budget has ever provided detailed costings, post the forward estimates up to the medium term. It’s never happened….
..we don't provide within-year estimates …on the cost of expenditure items” 

Hawker Britton Managing Director Simon Banks, Twitter, 13 May 2018, showing Coalition Government costings in 2014-15 Budget:
It is amusing to note that Scott Morrison was a member of the Coalition Government when that 2014-15 Budget was handed down. 

In fact he was a Cabinet Minister being then the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, so he would have more than a passing understanding of what went into those particular budget papers.