Showing posts with label Turnbull Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turnbull Government. Show all posts

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Australian Society 2017: age-old privilege remains strongly entrenched


“The Turnbull Government is doing what all Coalition governments have done in the past 40 years - deliver special funding deals for private schools, especially for Independent schools in this case, to ensure their resource advantage and privileged position in the schools market place. As Tony Abbott said of the Liberal Party’s long history of supporting Catholic and Independent schools: “it’s in our DNA”.” [Trevor Cobbold, New Figures Confirm More Private Schools Will be Over-Funded Under Gonski 2.0, December 2017]

The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 December 2017:

Catholic and independent private schools are set to get more than 100 per cent of their needs from governments under the  new "Gonski 2.0" plan, official documents released under Freedom of Information show.

Obtained by the Australian Education Union and processed by the convenor of the Save Our Schools campaign, Trevor Cobbold, the Education Department documents spell out the amount of government funding expected for each school sector in each state in 2018.

In NSW, 110 private schools are expected to receive more than 100 per cent of the so-called schools resourcing standard from governments, up from 65 schools in 2017. By 2027, when the Gonski arrangements are fully implemented, 212 private schools will receive more than their total needs from governments.

In Victoria, 38 private schools will receive more than the resourcing standard from governments, up from 33 in 2017. When Gonski 2.0 is fully implemented, 74 will receive more than all their needs from governments.

The Turnbull government's Gonski 2.0 package will eventually give each private school 80 per cent of the resourcing standard in Commonwealth grants. It will give public schools 20 per cent of the standard…..

The Gonski 2.0 formula will result in a loss of income for some very well-funded private schools, but will increase the number of overfunded private schools. In most states, public schools are funded at less than 80 per cent of the resources standard by the governments that operate them, meaning that although Gonski 2.0 lifts Commonwealth funding to 20 per cent, they will continue to get less than 100 per cent of the standard. NSW public schools would get 91 per cent of the standard, Victorian schools would get 86 per cent.

The private sector would get 107 per cent of the standard in NSW and about 100 per cent in Victoria, according to Mr Cobbold's calculations.

"Gonski 2.0 is the best special deal that private schools have ever had," Mr Cobbold said.

 "The overfunding will cost taxpayers many millions of dollars over the next decade and will divert funds from where they are most needed.

"No funding model that increases the number of overfunded private schools while failing to adequately support public schools can be considered fair. Public schools enrol the bulk of disadvantaged students."….


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Don't laugh, this Nationals MP was serious


David Arthur Gillespie of Wauchope entered the Australian Parliament in 2013 as a National Party Member of the House of Representatives representing the Lyne electorate, with an annual salary many of his constituents can only dream about.

He is quite literally a man of property – aside from his house and farm he owns four commercial and residential investment properties, which appear to be snugly sitting in one or more family trusts along with a portfolio of shares.

His total parliamentary entitlements expenditure paid by the Department of Finance was $65,512.97 in 2013,  $399,946.31 in 2014, $339,797.06 in 2015 and $381,651 in 2016.

Yet two years ago he caught the greed bug and wanted more, more, more………..

ABC News, 2 December 2017:

The Prime Minister's Department has lost a two-year fight to conceal a minister's bid for thousands of dollars in extra pollie-perks, including charter flights and boat rides.

Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop's taxpayer-funded helicopter ride sparked an inquiry into politicians' entitlements.

Most MPs and senators' submissions were publicly released, but bureaucrats decided to hide Nationals MP David Gillespie's proposal.

After a lengthy freedom of information (FOI) battle, the ABC can reveal Dr Gillespie argued politicians in seats like his should annually be given:

* Nearly $15,000 extra "charter allowance" for charter flights, hire cars, boat rides or taxis
* 14 days more travel allowance for overnight stays within the electorate
* An additional office
* One more full-time employee

Dr Gillespie is the member for Lyne on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

He argued the boost would help meet "the significant logistical challenges that confront all rural MPs in meeting the needs and expectations of their constituents".

"If the additional costs are $10 million, it is a small price to pay to ensure fairness within our democracy is delivered," he wrote in the October 2015 submission.

Dr Gillespie wanted extra expenses for all electorates 10,000 square kilometres or larger.

The Assistant Health Minister's seat is about 16,000 square kilometres in size, and includes towns of Taree and Wauchope.

If implemented today, 24 Coalition MPs would benefit, along with six Labor members and two independents.

Electorates 100,000 square kilometres or larger would have received an even bigger windfall under the blueprint.

But the Government has only partly adopted one of his ideas by funding an extra office in Australia's seven biggest electorates — a group of seats that does not include Lyne.

I’m sure David Gillespie is as pleased with mainstream media outing this attempted cash grab as he was when they reported this……

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 October 2017:

A Turnbull government minister is facing up to $500,000 in personal legal bills to defend his job against a Labor High Court challenge.

While the government is covering the costs of the seven federal politicians referred to the court over their citizenship status, the eighth MP facing constitutional eligibility questions is not getting the same assistance.

Labor is challenging Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie's right to stay on in Federal Parliament, putting the government's slender majority at risk, because it believes he may have an indirect financial interest in the Commonwealth – grounds for disqualification under section 44(v) of the constitution.

As revealed by Fairfax Media in February, the Nationals MP owns a small suburban shopping complex in Port Macquarie and one of the shops is an outlet of Australia Post – a government-owned corporation.

The Lighthouse Beach Australia Post outlet in Port Macquarie owned by Nationals MP David Gillespie. 
Photo: Peter Daniels

Alley v Gillespie [2017] HCA is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday,12 December 2017 by High Court of Australia.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Pressure mounted in Australia for a royal commission into banks and Turnbull caved


It would appear that some federal government MPs and senators are becoming nervous about their party’s chances at the next general election and are looking for ways to appease the electorate.

So the politically insecure Australian Prime Minister and former merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull announced a Royal Commission into the alleged misconduct ofAustralia’s banks and other financial services entities in order to appease theses nervous nellies on his backbench.

Having been dragged kicking and screaming to this point Turnbull has made quite sure that the carefully worded Terms of Reference hides a scorpion with considerable sting in its tail:

1. c) the use by a financial services entity of superannuation members’ retirement savings for any purpose that does not meet community standards and expectations or is otherwise not in the best interest of members;

This opens the door for a sustained assault over the twelve months this commission is sitting aimed directly at the sixteen industry-based superannuation funds.

These low-fee super funds are supported by Australian unions and, it is no co-incidence that eight of the top 10 list for the 10 years to 30 June 2017 are industry funds.

Industry superannuation funds which the Turnbull Government wants to see transferred to the control of the big four banks.

No wonder the banks are now in favour of this royal commission.

It is being observed in mainstream media that; It is noteworthy that the letter to Morrison from the big four bankchairmen and CEOs seems to have been used as the template for the royalcommission announcement.

Brief Background

ABC News, 28 November 2017:

The calls for a full inquiry have been relentless for years, emanating from a broad section of the community — from farmers, small business and households, jaded and disillusioned with the industry's rampant profiteering, fee gouging and blatant disregard for the law.

How many times can a Commonwealth Bank chairman sincerely apologise for a yet another breach of trust? What, pray tell, will be the cause of next year's?

But the overwhelming reason for an inquiry rests on just one principle — accountability.

What has been forgotten in the endless round of scandals in recent years is that the Australian banking sector is a taxpayer subsidised industry.

It's an industry that pays ridiculously bloated salaries to its leaders; that showers itself with massive bonus payments when profits are soaring but instantly demands taxpayer protection and support when the tide turns. More on that later.

A summary of bank transgressions during the past decade compiled by former Deutsche Bank analyst Mike Mangan at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4310476/A-Summary-of-Bank-Transgressions-During-the-Past.pdf.

The Guardian, 28 November 2017:

A majority of Australians would support a royal commission into the banks, with this week’s Guardian Essential poll showing 64% in favour, including 62% of Coalition supporters.
With Barnaby Joyce holding out the prospect that the Nationals might formally support an inquiry into the banks when the party room meets next week, and with dissident parliamentary numbers for the proposal building, the new poll finds public support for a banking royal commission has stayed constant for two years.

Support is highest among Labor voters at 72%, and people intending to vote for someone other than the major parties (71%), but there is also clear majority support among Coalition voters and Greens voters – 62%.

ABC News, 28 November 2017:

It seems inevitable that a bill calling for a wide-ranging inquiry into banks, insurers and superannuation providers would pass the Federal Parliament, after another Nationals MP pledges support for it.

Llew O'Brien is one of the fresher faces in the 45th Parliament, but he has parachuted himself into the political spotlight by confirming he would back the proposal from Nationals Senator Barry O'Sullivan.

Mr O'Brien gave his support on the condition the inquiry investigate discrimination by financial institutions against people with mental health problems.

The Australian, 24 November 2017:

Liberal National Party senator Barry O’Sullivan will move a ­motion in the Senate next week to establish a powerful probe into the financial services sector, staring down government opposition and criticism from former prime minister John Howard.

Senator O’Sullivan yesterday hit back at Mr Howard’s labelling of his proposed bank probe as “rampant socialism” after circulating a draft bill to establish a commission of inquiry into the banking sector.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Polls are still not looking good for Turnbull Government as November draws to a close


Essential Report, 28 November 2017. This report summarises the results of a weekly omnibus conducted by Essential Research with data provided by Your Source. The survey was conducted online from 24th to 27th November 2017 and is based on 1,021 respondents.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Oh dear, is the Turnbull Government asking chickens to visit the digital fox's den?


“The Turnbull Government has welcomed the eSafety Commissioner’s announcement today about the delivery of the pilot for a new national portal for reporting instances of non-consensual sharing of intimate images (colloquially known as image-based abuse or revenge pornography).”  [Senator Mitch Fifield, media release,15 October 2017]

Given the dubious reputation Facebook Inc has managed to garner in relation to business ethics, transparency, consumer privacy, e-safety, data mining and data breach history, one wonders what the Minister for Communications and Liberal Senator for Victoria Mitch Fifield was thinking.

Facebook Newsroom, 9 November 2017:

Image Pilot
By Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety

We don’t want Facebook to be a place where people fear their intimate images will be shared without their consent. We’re constantly working to prevent this kind of abuse and keep this content out of our community. We recently announced a test that’s a little different from things we’ve tried in the past. Even though this is a small pilot, we want to be clear about how it works.

This past week, in partnership with the Australian eSafety Commissioner’s Office and an international working group of survivors, victim advocates and other experts, Facebook launched a limited pilot in Australia that will help prevent non-consensual intimate images from being posted and shared anywhere on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Specifically, Australians who fear their intimate image may be shared without their consent can work with the eSafety Commissioner to provide that image in a safe and secure way to Facebook so that we can help prevent it from being shared on our platforms.

To be clear, people can already report if their intimate images have been shared on our platform without their consent, and we will remove and hash them to help prevent further sharing on our platform. With this new small pilot, we want to test an emergency option for people to provide a photo proactively to Facebook, so it never gets shared in the first place. This program is completely voluntary. It’s a protective measure that can help prevent a much worse scenario where an image is shared more widely. We look forward to getting feedback and learning.

Here’s how it works:

* Australians can complete an online form on the eSafety Commissioner’s official website.

* To establish which image is of concern, people will be asked to send the image to themselves on Messenger.

* The eSafety Commissioner’s office notifies us of the submission (via their form). However, they do not have access to the actual image.

* Once we receive this notification, a specially trained representative from our Community Operations team reviews and hashes the image, which creates a human-unreadable, numerical fingerprint of it.

* We store the photo hash—not the photo—to prevent someone from uploading the photo in the future. If someone tries to upload the image to our platform, like all photos on Facebook, it is run through a database of these hashes and if it matches we do not allow it to be posted or shared.

* Once we hash the photo, we notify the person who submitted the report via the secure email they provided to the eSafety Commissioner’s office and ask them to delete the photo from the Messenger thread on their device. Once they delete the image from the thread, we will delete the image from our servers……..

Monday, 6 November 2017

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman examining payment terms and conditions for subcontractors working on government projects


Medianet Logo
AAP Logo
 Medianet Release




16 Oct 2017 12:00 PM AEST - Call for subcontractors to be paid promptly




The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman is examining payment terms and conditions for subcontractors working on government projects.

Ombudsman Kate Carnell says small business "subbies" are vulnerable to delayed payments, which can have an adverse impact on their livelihoods and the broader economy.

"Most government departments pay their invoices within 30 days, but when a prime contractor is appointed to manage a project there are regularly delayed payments further down the chain," Ms Carnell said.

"Government agencies and prime contractors should ensure that payment terms and conditions throughout the supply chain are no worse than those in the head contract.

"It's not good enough to leave responsibility with a head contractor and overlook small businesses who do much of the work."

Ms Carnell said cashflow was vital to small business success.

"Cashflow is king," she said.

"A lack of cashflow is the leading cause of business insolvency and this underscores the importance of prompt payments."

Ms Carnell has written to seven government departments seeking information about their procurement and payment policies.

It follows her inquiry into payment times, which recommended the government pay invoices within 15 days.

The inquiry recommended:
  • The Australian Government require its head contractors to adopt the payment times and practices of the procurement policy through the supply chain;
  • The Australian Government extend its payment policies to all agencies and entities;
  • The Australian Government publish its payment times and policies, and for all its agencies and entities, with performance against best practice benchmarks;
  • The Australian Government procure from businesses which have supply-chain payment times and practices equal to or better than its practices.
The inquiry also recommended that all levels of government adopt the same prompt-payment policies.

Ends



Distributed by AAP Medianet








Saturday, 4 November 2017

Tweet of the Week



Friday, 3 November 2017

So how much Centrelink client debt was not debt at all in 2015-16 & 2016-17?


Australian Minister for Social Services Christian Porter is quick to point the finger but often very slow with concrete answers, so it is always a boon when annual departmental reports are published.

In September 2017 the latest DSS annual report was published.

Although carefully disguised in the wording "waived or written off"; by adding the 2016-17 annual report's financial statements together with the previous year’s annual report, one finds that the admitted amount of false client debt generated by Centrelink’s disastrous attempt to match Australian Taxation Office data with its own client records could possibly be as high as $264.645 million over a two financial year period.

As challenging a Centrelink debt letter was a distressing and often extremely difficult obstacle course for many welfare recipients, these hundreds of millions of dollars represent the determination of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians to fight back against false claims made on their wallets by government and the besmirching of their reputations.

On 26 October 2017 The Canberra Times reported that; Human Services official Jason McNamara told a Senate estimates hearing that in 202,000 cases where the department finalised the debt amount, 49,000 welfare recipients who received letters since the 'robo-debt' program started in July 2016 were found to owe nothing.

That means that 25.25% of these 202,000 debt notices were false claims as the Centrelink client was found to owe nothing.

In July and August this year Centrelink sent out a total of 114,000 debt letters.

At least est. 28,785 of these letters will probably represent a false claim of debt.

I hope all Centrelink clients who received one of these letters are querying each and every one.

BACKGROUND

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The perception that Turnbull & Co are conducting a political witch hunt is not going to go away anytime soon


Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, media release, 27 October 2017:

Timetable set for Federal Court action on unprecedented raids

A court timetable has been set in the AWU’s fight to challenge the validity of this week’s unprecedented police raids launched by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) on the union’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, who are representing the AWU, said today that court orders confirming a timetable for the case had been agreed to by all parties, removing the need for a Federal Court directions hearing that had been scheduled for this morning in Melbourne.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein said critically that the orders were made together with commitments from both the ROC and AFP that no documents seized in this week’s raids by the AFP will be handed over to the ROC until the court has heard the case.

Mr Bornstein said the union's case compromised two key parts, namely: 
That the raid conducted by the AFP was illegal; and
That the investigation by the ROC is illegal because it is politically motivated.

“Prior to these raids, the union had handed over disclosure statements from 10 years ago in relation to Get Up donations to the ROC, but in doing so had pressed the regulator to provide it with information about the political interference by the Turnbull government in this matter.

“Disturbingly, the ROC has refused to hand over all file notes of its communications with Minister Cash and her office and we  will continue to seek all such documents as part of the federal court case,” he said.

Under the agreed timetable evidence must be obtained from all parties next month, with the respondents required to file their defence by 1 December 2017. A substantive hearing will be held in December at a date to be set, following the filing of defences.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BACKGROUND

In 2015 the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption considered matters relating to seven unions, one of which was the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

AWU activity during the years 2003-2010 were examined by the Royal Commission, including financial records which would have included donations by AWU to outside organisations/groups, including the $100k donation to the activist groupGetUp!

No evidence appears to have been presented during Commission hearings relating to GetUp! or to the 2006 AWU donation to this group and, there were no adverse findings made against Bill Shorten in the Commission's December 2015 Final Report.


As far as I’m aware a reporting unit such as the Australian Workers Union New South Wales Branch or Australian Workers Victorian Branch is only legally obliged to hold records for 7 years and it appears Ms. Cash was ignoring the fact that a) there was no obligation to supply her with this so-called evidence and b) these documents could have been lawfully disposed of anytime after 2013 if the union had so decided.

On 20 October 2017 in response to Senator Cash’s referral ROC began an investigation into the AWU.


Despite that fact ROC applied for search warrants for AWU branch offices in Sydney and Melbourne and these were issued before 10am on 24 October 2017.

The Australian Federal Police scheduled what it thought was an unpublicized search late on the afternoon of 24 October 2017.

Police were greeted outside the union offices by an assorted collection of mainstream print and television media who had been alerted to the time and place of the ‘raid’ by Senator Cash’s office.

An unknown number of union records were removed by the police.


Financial Review, excerpt from Media leaks about AFP AWU raids a disaster for Turnbull, Cash and government, 26 October 2017:

Political Memes of the Week



Via Ming The Merciless


via Twitter

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Australian Employment Minister Michaelia Cash misleads parliament and the media


“She could not make eye contact with Doug Cameron when responding to his questions. She was as twitchy as a cockatoo on coke.” - @MSMWatchdog2013

BuzzFeed News, 25 October 2017:

Cash denied five times her office leaked the information, telling Senate Estimates her office was not informed about the raids until they had begun.

"I found out as it unfolded on the television after I returned from a meeting yesterday about 4.45pm on the ABC," Cash said on Wednesday morning.

"My understanding was that a phone call was made to my office once the search warrant was issued just before I saw it on the television ... 4.30, 4.45pm," she said.

When asked if she or her office advised any other person about the raid, Cash said: "No, as I said I literally watched it on the television unfold myself".

When asked again if anyone in her office had tipped-off the media, Cash said: "I said my office received a phone call from the Registered Organisation Commission notifying them that search warrants were being executed as the phone call was being made."

When asked a third time, Cash said her office fielded media calls for her to respond after the raids, but denied it had tipped-off the media.

"I have full faith in my staff," she said.

When asked a fourth time, Cash said she could "assure" senators that her office "did not find out about the raids until after they were being conducted".

Cash then refuted the claims for a fifth time saying:

DOUG CAMERON: Can you assure the Senate that no-one in your office called any media outlets about 3.30 yesterday?

MICHAELIA CASH: Yes I can and quite frankly I am offended on behalf of my staff as to those allegations. They are very serious allegations.

CAMERON: They are questions.

CASH: They are very serious allegations and I refute them.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull later told Question Time: "The minister for employment has assured me that she did not advise any journalists about the raid ... she is in estimates, I believe, this afternoon, and will no doubt have the opportunity to go into this in great detail."

BuzzFeed News has spoken to journalists who claim they received a phone call from Cash's office an hour before the raids, to make sure there would be cameras outside the AWU offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

The journalists say Cash's office phoned them around 3.30pm on Tuesday with the location and time of the raid, emphasising that it would take place at a union office.

The staffer pointed out the union in question, the AWU, used to be run by Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Labor has backed independent senator Nick Xenophon’s call for an independent inquiry to establish who tipped-off the media prior to the AFP raids. [my yellow highlighting]

The Minister's denials came unstuck once BuzzFeed published this article online, however she continued denying personal knowledge and instead blamed her media adviser.
Senator Cash is also allegedly denying knowing that BuzzFeed contacted her office for comment "well before" the article was published.

Is it imagination or is Michaelia’s nose getting longer?

The question remains as to exactly when, rather than if, Michaelia Cash knew there was to be an Australian Federal Police raid on Australian Workers Union premises on 24 October 2017.

Because neither the Registered Organisation Commission nor the police are likely to have bypassed this particular government minster and opted to directly contacted a staffer instead, when the minister herself is reportedly the original source of the complaint made against the union.

Whether or not the Australian Parliament choses to believe her deception was not deliberate, the average voter is unlikely to give this senator the benefit of the doubt - she has form and will turn a blind eye to unlawful actions if it suits her purpose.

BACKGROUND

Registered Organisation Commission Statement:


On 25 October 2017 the AWU successfully applied to the court to have union documents obtained by police frozen until the court ruled on the legality of the seizure.


Friday, 13 October 2017

WAKE UP, PRIME MINISTER! A Frustrated Voter Calls on the Australian PM to Redeem Himself


Tony Abbott, in speaking arrant nonsense in the speech he delivered to a collection of climate deniers in the UK recently, has given you a great chance to redeem yourself in relation to climate change action and energy policy.  Abbott has shown how idiotic he is and how indifferent he is to the national interest as well as being totally inconsistent with much of what he espoused when he was Prime Minister.  So why do you keep kowtowing to his silliness and the silliness of his mates?  Why are you reluctant to adopt a clean energy target as recommended by the Chief Scientist? 

You’ve kowtowed to Abbott and his cronies incessantly for months and months – and it’s got you ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE.  They are not going to let up on you – and you’ve lost an enormous amount of public goodwill by your craven behaviour.

It’s time that you took charge and rejected the idiocy of the Liberal and National dinosaurs who want to prevent any more movement towards renewables.  How many of these Abbott-loving clowns are there anyway?  Surely the majority of the Liberal members (If not the Nationals - who are another matter entirely) want to have a bipartisan agreement on climate and energy.  Surely the sensible members of the Government want to give the community and business certainty about the way forward. And surely the more reasonable members of your Government can see that it is IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST TO SECURE A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON THESE IMPORTANT MATTERS.  That is really the only way forward – and it’s what the majority of the community and business want.

If you get a bipartisan agreement with the opposition, it surely won’t matter if Abbott and his dinosaur cronies cross the floor. 

Another matter you should be considering (as I imagine you would be as a politician and a PM in deep trouble) is how history will see you as a leader and your term as PM.  Currently it’s not looking good.

Wake up, Prime Minister, and redeem yourself!

Climateer
NSW North Coast


GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

National ID Database: so you think if you do nothing wrong you'll have nothing to fear?


“There is also a tendency for technologies to converge, allowing for the creation of devices with increased surveillance capabilities. CCTV, for example, may be combined with facial recognition technology….to identify individuals from their images. Another example is modern mobile phones, which combine telephonic services with GPS tracking software, digital visual and sound recording capabilities, and connection to the internet. A consequence of the convergence of surveillance technologies is the greater ability of surveillance users to compile detailed pictures of members of the public, making it increasingly difficult for individuals to maintain their privacy and anonymity.” [Victorian Law Reform Commission – Surveillance in Public Places: Final Report 18, 2010]

This month the Turnbull Government, state and territory governments have agreed to add the photo IDs of all registered drivers to the Facial Biometric Matching Capability (FBMC) database (est. 16 November 2016) which already has access to passport photographs, visa application photos, airport surveillance images and arrest ID images from the criminal justice system.

Additional images will probably be harvested from social media and added to this database which is to be used with CCTV footage of the general population going about their daily lives when considered necessary by police and security services. The biometric 'map' of an individual's face created by FBMC being easily applied to searches of video footage from public venue, shopping centre, street and road cameras as CCTV technology is now capable of recognising faces of people, vehicles, animals and bags automatically.

FBMC will involve using a Face Verification Service , Face Identification Service, One Person One Licence Service and Facial Recognition Analysis Utility Service in identity matching, along with a the Document Verification Service, Identity Data Sharing Service and/or any other government identity matching or data sharing service and, of course one of the areas it will be used is in so-called crime prevention.

Use of this facial recognition database will also be available to authorised private sector agencies and, like many new tools it is likely there will be function creep so that photo IDs will be required by more government agencies and private businesses when interacting with individuals in the future.

The Facial Biometric Matching Capability database will function alongside the Biometric Identification Services (BIS) which features national identification capability using fingerprints, palm prints, foot prints and facial recognition, person identity and evidence image case management, image enhancement tools and record auditing, matching services of one to one, one to few, one to many, and many to many, as well as photobook, photo line-up and witness viewing services.

But what’s the worry? After all if you are an ordinary person not committing a crime you have nothing to fear. Right?

Well there is this on the horizon…………..


Criminologists at Monash undertake cutting edge research in the areas of risk and security that is theoretically sophisticated, innovative and highly relevant to areas of pressing national and international concern. The discipline hosts two recipients of the Australian government’s prestigious Future Fellowship Award, Professor Sharon Pickering and Associate Professor Weber, both undertaking programs of research on border policing. Their jointly authored book Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier was awarded Australia’s most significant criminology publication award in 2013. The Border Crossing Observatory is the online repository of all border-related research undertaken by Monash Criminology and our national and international partners. Criminologists at Monash have received multiple highly competitive Australian Research Council grants to investigate a host of risk and security related topics, amongst them, counter terrorism laws and policing, immigration and exploitive labour practices, deportation, regional security, and the gendered nature of border crossing and transnational law enforcement. Our risk and security research expertise includes the interrelated topics of borders, counter terrorism, state crime, transnational crime, irregular migration, human trafficking, risk and disability, and pre-crime. [my yellow bolding]

What is “pre-crime”?

Put simply, “pre-crime” activity is a crime not yet committed – it is the suspicion that an individual might be capable of breaking an unidentified law at some unspecified time in the future.

Such suspicion does not mean there is a need to charge, prosecute or convict for a specific crime. Intervention at “pre-crime” stage is supposedly risk containment.

You don’t have to be researching bomb-building or Googling how to buy a weapon online to commit a “pre-crime” activity - it can be your thoughts and political opinions spoken aloud or written down, as well as your actions at a public meeting or protest rally.

It can even be allegedly ‘guilty knowledge’ in that you knew the time and place a small environmental activist group was going to confront their local MP or you saw a person painting an anti-government picket sign ahead of a planned street march.

Going to the media – social or mainstream – with a genuine complaint against a government department might be considered a “pre-crime” if you visibly persist in seeking answers, redress or apology. You could easily be labelled "fixated" by police if a government minister takes offence and decides to complain.

If you make a small donation to a group the police or government consider problematic, troublesome or obstructive of the aims of government or big business you may at some time in the future be considered politically partisan and displaying “pre-crime” tendencies.

These are just some of the groups that are already complained about by big business and politicians: Environment Victoria, Wilderness Society (Australia, Victoria & Queensland), Friends of the Earth, Victorian National Parks Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, Lock the Gate Alliance, 350.org Australia, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Australia, Politics in the Pub and GetUp! as well as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd.

Just belonging to a group or community association which speaks up on matters of social, economic, environmental or political concern could see you being eyed off as part of a potential conspiracy in the making.

In at least one Western country pre-crime can also manifest itself as a suspicion that you have come into a city centre with the intention of having a drink or two and you will be given a 48 hour direction-to-leave order.

With the notion of “pre-crime” there is no presumption of innocence and little more than lip service to due process if any arm of state or federal government decides you are a person of interest.

So how will pre-crime activity be monitored by police and security services? Well one of the methods used will be surveillance and this surveillance may involve use of the Facial Biometric Matching Capability database created by the Turnbull Government.

Surely this couldn’t possibly happen in Australia? you say. Think again. 

We already keep individuals in gaol long after their court-imposed sentence has been fully completed under continuing detention legislation, have preventative detention without charge and control orders which can be applied to both minors and adults, police are known to use spyware to enter, monitor and control home computers and, in certain circumstances your home can be entered and searched without your knowledge by police and security services.

And here in Australia we have a history of unwarranted surveillance based on an individual's political association (1950s Cold War era) and political dissent (1960s & early 1970s Viet Nam War era) as well as virtually unchallenged unlawful use of coercive powers (Border Force 2014 to 2017).

Police and security agencies are constantly pushing for more legislation which would allow amongst other matters the creation of a raft of pre-emptive, punitive measures based solely on suspicion and an individual’s “pre-crime” tendencies.

Right now in Australia governments are all about political and physical control of the population - they are not about human rights, 'civil liberties' or a free, open and democratic society.

As a society Australia has been sliding down that slippery slope towards an authoritarian destination for years now and in 2017 we appear to have reached the bottom of the slope.

“For years, there’s been ample evidence that authoritarian governments around the world are relying on technology produced by American, Canadian, and European companies to facilitate human rights abuses.  From software that enables the filtering and blocking of online content to tools that help governments spy on their citizens, many such companies are actively serving autocratic governments as "repression’s little helper."
The reach of these technologies is astonishingly broad: governments can listen in on cell phone calls, use voice recognition to scan mobile networks, read emails and text messages, censor web pages, track a citizen’s every movement using GPS, and can even change email contents while en route to a recipient. Some tools are installed using the same type of malicious malware and spyware used by online criminals to steal credit card and banking information. They can secretly turn on webcams built into personal laptops and microphones in cell phones not being used. And all of this information is filtered and organized on such a massive scale that it can be used to spy on every person in an entire country.” [Electronic Frontiers Foundation, accessed 7 October 2017]

“Australia’s leading privacy and civil liberties organisations condemn the decision by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to provide all images from state and territory driver’s licence databases to the federal National Facial Biometric Matching Capability.
The creation of such a comprehensive national facial database is an unnecessary and disproportionate invasion of the privacy rights of all Australians, is the foundation for suspicionless, warrantless mass surveillance and is fundamentally incompatible with a free and open society.

David Vaile, Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation said, “This government has proven it is blind and deaf to privacy and personal information security threats. Make no mistake – this database will affect all Australians, even the most conscientious and law-abiding. It will likely generate massive ‘false positive’ lists that will flood our very effective police and security services with useless distractions. We’ve already seen calls for ‘scope creep’ to cover welfare enforcement, and there’s every reason to expect this capability will come to be used to identify people with unpaid fines and other minor issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” [Electronic Frontiers Australia, 6 October 2017]

“Every single portion of human rights activism overlaps, manifests or is exercised with the use of technology. That alone caused attackers and adversaries to recognize that technology itself is a good vehicle to get to these people and interfere with them or cause them harm.” [Claudio Guarnieri of Amnesty International quoted in Threat Post at Kapersky Lab, 4 October 2017]