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Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. Pic: YouTube.


A new Australian Public Service (APS) Privacy Code covering the data citizens give to the federal government will be in place by 2018, prompted by the outcry over Centrelink robo debt and data matching.

Today’s [Thursday] joint announcement by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) said the two would work collaboratively on the new code, which aims to ensure a balance between data protection and privacy and data innovation and its use by Commonwealth agencies.

Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim told the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, which is conducting a public hearing into the Department of Human Services’ Online Compliance Initiative (OCI) in Canberra today, that the code would cover how data should be ‘respected, protected’ and regulated into the future, consistent with community expectations.

Mr Pilgrim said the code would be binding and failure to comply would be a breach of the Privacy Act. The current guidelines are voluntary.

He said penalties could range from asking for a written undertaking that an organisation would change their processes and comply - ultimately enforceable in the federal court – to civil penalties in a federal court which could reach up to $1.8 million for serious breaches.

The OAIC will lead on the code’s development due to the organisation’s specific privacy expertise and the code will be implemented APS-wide. All agencies will also need to have a privacy management plan in place under the new code.

The Department and the OAIC said the code was vital to maximise the value of publicly held data.

“The code can therefore be a catalyst to transform the Australian government’s data performance – increasing both internal capacity and external transparency to stakeholders,” they said.

Commissioner Pilgrim said the code would ‘support government data innovation that integrates personal data protection’ while giving the APS the ‘skills and capabilities’ it needed to manage personal information.

A storm over data privacy occurred after Fairfax published a piece by blogger Andie Fox in February which was highly critical of the DHS’ automated debt recovery drive, designed to claw back more than $1.5 billion over five years. In her article, Ms Fox claimed she had been pursued and ‘terrorised’ by DHS for money she did not owe after a relationship breakdown.

In response, DHS disputed Ms Fox’s account and leaked some of her personal information to a journalist, including her Family Tax Benefit claims and relationship details.

The government later defended itself arguing that it was allowed to release personal information to correct inaccurate public statements under social security legislation.

Federal Labor MP Linda Burney later referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police but the AFP concluded that Human Services Minister Alan Tudge had not breached Commonwealth legislation.

The government said the new privacy code would be developed in close collaboration with the APS and data stakeholders and it would apply to all Australian Government entities subject to the Australian Privacy Act 1988.

 
                    [post_title] => New APS privacy code on the back of Centrelink robo debt
                    [post_excerpt] => Penalties of up to $1.8m for serious breaches.
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Aldi WA store wins appeal to sell alcohol, provided it doesn't chill it. 

 

 

By James Wells 

The WA Premier Mark McGown said he is “uncomfortable” that Aldi has successfully won an appeal to sell liquor in its Harrisdale store after an appeal.

The Premier made the comments after the Aldi store at Harrisdale won an appeal to sell liquor – making it the third store within the German supermarket chain’s stores in Western Australia.

"The Liquor Commission and the Director of Liquor Licensing are independent and make these decisions, but personally I'm uncomfortable with it," Mr McGowan was reported to have said.

"The Director of Liquor Licensing takes into account all the community feedback and the like before making these decisions, but personally as I said I don't like alcohol been sold in supermarkets but it's something outside my control,” McGowan said.

The Aldi Harrisdale store, located in a suburb in south-eastern Perth with a population of 3807 people, initially had its proposal to sell wine as low as $2.79 across three different SKUs, even though a licence in the same area was granted to Woolworths.

 

Read more here.

This story first appeared in The Shout. 
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[caption id="attachment_27066" align="alignnone" width="700"] The World Trade Organisation has reportedly rejected a case against Australia’s plain packaging laws.[/caption]
  By Lucy Marrett The ABC has reported on a rumour that the Australian Government has won a dispute regarding international tobacco plain packaging.
The rumoured ruling in Australia’s favour is set to give the green light to other countries to roll out similar laws. A British American Tobacco (BAT) spokesperson said the news regarding the ruling was “speculation”. “However, we can say that there is still no proof to show that plain packaging is meeting the objectives set out by the government,” he said. Cancer Council Victoria said it welcomed recent findings by an independent study released in April which they said found that plain packaged tobacco products “may” reduce the prevalence of smoking.   Read more here.
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Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt.   By Darragh O'Keefe   The Commonwealth has launched an independent review to determine how federal regulators failed to detect the scale of the issues at South Australia’s Oakden facility.
In a damning review the state’s Chief Psychiatrist said the facility was “more like a mental institution from the middle of last century” than a modern older person’s mental health facility.He called for the centre to be closed and replaced by more contemporary services after highlighting a range of concerns around the model of care, staffing, safety, culture and use of restrictive practices. Last week the State Government said it was closing the centre and would develop a new state-wide model of care for older people experiencing several behavioural and psychosocial symptoms of dementia (BPSD). After weekend media reports questioning how federal regulators failed to identify the seriousness of the issues at the centre, the Commonwealth on Monday announced a new review into its aged care regulatory processes. Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the review would identify any shortcomings in the national regulatory system that meant that the Commonwealth was not aware of the extent of the problems at Oakden.
  Read more here. This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda. [post_title] => Feds launch review into SA mental health facility [post_excerpt] => Chief Psychiatrist compares Oakden to 'a mental institution from the middle of last century'. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => feds-review-sa-mental-health-facility [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-04 15:38:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-04 05:38:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27014 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27006 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-02 12:33:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-02 02:33:00 [post_content] =>     Woollahra Council is bracing itself for a High Court showdown with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as it continues to struggle against the government’s plans to merge it with Randwick and Waverley Councils. The Eastern Sydney suburbs council will head to the High Court on May 12 in an attempt to secure leave to appeal a decision that went against it in the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal last December when three judges unanimously threw out its appeal against the forced merger. Woollahra Council has already faced the NSW government in the Land and Environment Court but its case was dismissed out of hand by Chief Judge Brian Preston in July 2016, who also awarded costs against the council. Save Our Councils Coalition spokesman Phil Jenkyn, an ex-barrister, said the council’s success in being granted an appeal rested on demonstrating that it was arguing an important point of law that had implications for other cases – an argument that he said was reasonable - and whether there had been an error of law in the December court judgement. The council has argued before that the full KPMG report, which the government relied upon to make its case for the savings from council mergers, should have been given to councils and delegates before public hearings. Delegate reports containing recommendations on whether councils should merge or stand alone were given to the Boundaries Commission after the hearings. If Woollahra Council is blocked from appealing Government News understands that there are plans to form an Eastern suburbs residents’ group that could take up cudgels, emboldened by Ku-ring-gai Council’s win in March. It has been an expensive battle for those councils who have stood up to the government. Woollahra has spent more than $1 million battling the merger, including community consultation costs.   Liberal mayor of Woollahra, Toni Zeltzer, has justified the council’s court cases saying that the majority of residents are opposed to the amalgamation and rates would soar between 20 and 50 per cent for Woollahra residents if it were amalgamated. Greens MP David Shoebridge, also an ex-barrister, said it was possible for a third party to run a fresh case based on the Ku-ring-gai decision, which he said showed the illegitimacy of the government’s forced merger agenda based on secret documents. “[Woollahra Council] know they got a job done on them, they have got their residents’ support. I would be surprised if they didn’t throw their support around a viable legal challenge,” Mr Shoebridge said. The KPMG report took centre stage during a NSW Court of Appeal case in March when Ku-ring-gai Council argued that the government’s suppression of part of the report had denied it procedural fairness. The council won its case and the court decided that the delegate’s report to the Boundaries Commission, which recommended a merger with Hornsby Shire, be thrown out. The NSW government has yet to state whether it will abandon the merger or commission a new delegate’s report. The Ku-ring-gai decision, which the government chose not to appeal, has given renewed hope to councils still fighting mergers in the courts, including Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Mosman, North Sydney and Strathfield. These councils had their cases heard at the beginning of April and are waiting to hear their judgements, which could take months. Mr Shoebridge said the government’s failure to appeal the Ku-ring-gai decision was telling. “The Ku-ring-gai judgement doesn’t just give the councils hope, it gives them an extremely strong legal basis to impugn every one of those cases of forced amalgamation. It’s a compelling decision which supports all those councils that have maintained the fight,” Mr Shoebridge said. “The basic political truth is that if you don’t fight you lose. I think residents should be very critical of their former council leadership if they didn’t take up the legal fight.” But Mr Shoebridge conceded that the courts would be unlikely to unpick the council mergers last May, when more than 40 local councils were forced to merge into 19, because of the complexity, upheaval and expense. Mr Jenkyn said the Ku-ring-gai judgement demonstrated that forced mergers had not be a fair dinkum process. “How can you say there are all these billions of dollars being saved when all these expert reports say that what happened on the ground in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and Canada [after mergers] say rates grew and there were big inefficiencies?” He said Woollahra’s High Court challenge could lead to the full KPMG report being subpoenaed, which he said could “bring down the government” if the contents showed the government colluded with KPMG. Meanwhile NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government was committed to the merger of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai Councils 'given the clear benefits it will have for the local communities'. "There are a series of matters before the courts, including the High Court matter in Woollahra, which is why the government is not considering one case in isolation," Ms Upton said.    Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.    [post_title] => Woollahra Council set for High Court showdown with Berejiklian over merger [post_excerpt] => Residents could take up the fight if council loses. 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The Canberra school cleaners who took their underpayment claim to the Federal Court. Source: United Voice   By Claire Hibbit 
A Canberra-based cleaning company, which was contracted to clean 10 public schools in the ACT, has been found guilty of Fair Work Act breaches for underpayments. United Voice launched the case against Philip Cleaning Services on behalf of 22 workers in 2015, alleging in court documents that some of the cleaners were owed almost $25,000. Of the 22 workers, 19 are S’gaw Karen refugees from Myanmar and Thailand, who spent two decades in refugee camps in Thailand before being resettled in Australia. According to United Voice, the permanent part-time school cleaners were pressured into signing contracts they did not understand, variously paid from different business entities (without explanation either to the workers or the ACT Government) and routinely exposed to unsafe working conditions. Read more here. This story first appeared in INCLEAN.
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By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier   Hoteliers and the wider hospitality industry are on edge, as they await more details in regards to the Federal Government’s 457 visa replacement. Yesterday (Tuesday), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the scrapping of the 457 visa program, stating: “We are ensuring that Australian jobs and Australian values are first, placed first. During the press conference, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, announced that 457 visa will be replaced with two alternate visas, that do not foster as much agency for permanent residency. “What we propose is that under the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa short-term stream there will be a two-year visa, with the options of two-years, but there would not be permanent residency outcomes at the end of that. “In relation to the medium-term stream, which as the Prime Minister pointed out, is targeted at higher skills, a much shorter skills list, that will be for a period of four years, can be applied for onshore or offshore, and it's a significant tightening of the way in which that programme operates. According to the Department of Immigration, in 2014 cooks represented the third-largest usage of the 457 visa, after software/application programmers and general practitioners and residential medical officers. The AHA has called on the Government to ensure that the needs of the hospitality industry are met within the new visa program. “The hospitality industry is growing at unprecedented rates at the present and the demand for skilled labour is at all-time highs with this complete transformation of Australia’s hotel industry,” said AHA CEO, Stephen Ferguson. Indeed, the Government’s own Australian Tourism Labour Force Report estimated that the tourism and hospitality sector will require an additional 123,000 workers by 2020, including 60,000 skilled positions. “Australia’s hospitality sector has responded with a wide range of training and career development programs, but with such a rapid increase in tourism it is impossible to meet the demand for skilled labour in the short-term through local channels, especially in regional and remote Australia.” With the exact details of the new Temporary Short- and Medium-Term Visa programs, yet to be revealed, most hoteliers are withholding judgment at this stage, but a few were wary of the additional strain the scrapping of the 457 visa would place on finding kitchen staff. “I am still waiting to hear the finer detail about the announcement from Turnbull so as to fully understand the implications of this for the hospitality sector. But on face value, it does not seem to be founded in a sound consideration of the facts attributable to the current skills shortages being experienced in the hospitality sector,” opined Christian Denny, licensee of Hotel Harry and The Dolphin. For Angela Gallagher, group general manager of Gallagher Hotels, the replacement of the 457 visa program will create another hurdle in finding quality staff. Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout. 
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NSW government says slow down. [/caption]     After three public hearings, 212 submissions and a parliamentary report the NSW government has announced it is not yet ready to make a decision about how to regulate short-term holiday letting through online booking services like Airbnb and Stayz. Instead, the NSW government will conduct a ‘broad consultation’ with the public and the short-term accommodation industry, including bed and breakfasts and hotels, before publishing an options paper next month. The options paper, which the Departments of Planning and Environment and Fair Trading will also contribute to, will explore land use and planning issues and strata management concerns, including the impact on the lives and safety of existing residents. This morning’s announcement (Thursday) was in response to an October 2016 report by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment on the best way to regulate the explosion of short-term accommodation letting and the continued rise of Airbnb in the state. The report recommended the government make it easier for homeowners to rent out a whole or part of their house and for it to adopt a light regulatory touch. This approach included relaxing state planning laws so that local councils could class short-term letting as exempt development, providing it did not have excessive impact on other residents. But the government offered only ‘qualified support’ to the committee’s recommendations, stating they needed further consideration and more public consultation. It has been slow going. After submissions closed in November 2015 there were three public hearings between March and May 2016 followed by the final report on October 19, 2016 and the government’s response six months later. NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said it was too complicated and divisive an issue to rush. “It’s no surprise that NSW and Sydney are highly sought after destinations for international and domestic visitors, however, we must find a balance between providing options for accommodation and residents being able to go about their daily lives. This will support the best environment for residents and visitors so that it is a great destination,” Mr Roberts said.  “The inquiry recommendations make sense, but the regulation of short-term letting needs broader engagement with the industry and the community to establish a model that enables it to continue to flourish and innovate whilst ensuring the amenity and safety of users and the wider community are protected.   “It's sensible to take time on a complex issue like this, which is why we are releasing an options paper next month.” The government supported the report’s recommendations around communicating with councils and residents any changes and that councils take the lead on informing landowners about their rights and duties. Also supported was giving owners’ corporations more powers to respond to any negative consequences of short-term lets in their buildings, through amending strata regulations. NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the government would concentrate on finding common ground to address the concerns of everyone involved. “We need to find what will work best for the people of NSW, which is why we’re issuing an options paper for discussion with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Kean said.  “We don’t want a holiday accommodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too.    “While short-term holiday letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy, the need to protect people’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes is equally important.”     Meanwhile, Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh called the government's response a 'strong, positive step towards ensuring fair and progressive rules and regulation for residents and visitors to NSW'. “We appreciate that these things take time and that it’s important to get the balance right," Mr McDonagh said. "We’re confident that Premier Berejiklian and the NSW government will join the state governments in Tasmania and South Australia, in embracing home sharing, and introduce fair regulations that allow more people in NSW to share their extra space.”   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => NSW government delays Airbnb decision [post_excerpt] => Options paper by next month. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-delays-airbnb-decision [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 11:16:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:16:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26947 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26882 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-11 11:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 01:00:53 [post_content] => Newtown's nightlife has intensified since the 2014 lockout laws came in. Pic: Google Images.    By Lecturer in Criminology, UNSW This story first appeared in The Conversation.     It is vital that public policy be driven by rigorous research. In the last decade key policy changes have had profound impacts on nightlife in Sydney’s inner city and suburbs. The most significant and controversial of these has been the 2014 “lockout laws”. These were a series of legislative and regulatory policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder through new criminal penalties and key trading restrictions, including 1.30am lockouts and a 3am end to service in select urban “hotspots”. A range of lobbyists, including New South Wales Police and accident and emergency services, welcomed these initiatives. By contrast, venue operators, industry organisations and patron groups have made repeated but largely anecdotal claims that these changes caused a sharp downturn in profit, employment and cultural vibrancy in targeted areas. They also claim that the “lockouts” have caused drinking-related problems to spill over into urban areas that are less equipped to cope with them.

Crime is down

However, in late 2016, the Callinan Review referenced compelling evidence in support of the current policy. According to the latest research, recorded rates of crime are down by around 49% in the designated Kings Cross precinct and 13% in Sydney’s CBD. In contrast, what little research has been produced by opponents of strict nightlife regulation has been criticised as unreliable, inaccurate and poorly deployed.  
The pattern of assaults has shifted since the lockout laws began. BOCSAR, Author provided
The Callinan Review noted the lack of verifiable claims about the negative impacts of the policy in submissions from the main opponents of the lockout laws. This has led to a great deal of assumption in the final report about where, for example, revellers, jobs, entertainment and revenue might have been displaced to, or how the policy changes affected them. In many respects, the passing over of claims made by anti-lockout groups is rather unfair. These groups are not official state bodies with the capacity to produce the type of data or evidence on which the policy has been justified and defended. As such, their “unscientific” observations and experiences have been largely dismissed. To critically balance and juxtapose opposing claims, more impact data and research are needed.

We must take a city-wide perspective

If the lockout policy is judged on the original goal of decreasing crime in designated “hotspots”, then it appears to have been a success. However, from a city-wide perspective there are other issues to consider. Not the least of these is the effects in other nightlife sites across Sydney. Despite initially finding no displacement of violence to nearby nightlife sites, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has just released findings showing significant displacement in rates of recorded non-domestic-related violence in destinations outside the lockout zone. Reported crime rates in Newtown, one of the displacement sites listed in the BOCSAR study (along with Bondi and Double Bay), increased by 17% in the 32 months following the lockouts. These new findings appear to vindicate some local complaints about increased night violence – including attacks targeting LGBTI victims – that has led to much resident irritation and even political protest in recent years.

Adjusting our nightlife habits

So, how can we better judge the veracity of these claims about the displacement of nuisance and violence? Mapping patronage trends is a key means of understanding how and why rates of assault have now increased despite initially showing little to no change. To this end, Kevin McIsaac and I, with data from Transport for NSW, have set out to ascertain if and how nightlife participation in Sydney has been influenced by the lockouts. Our analysis focused on night-time aggregated train validation data (turnstile counts) from January 2013 to July 2016 for stations servicing the designated nightlife precincts (Kings Cross, Town Hall) and precincts outside the lock-out zone (Newtown, Parramatta). Using Bayesian Change Point (BCP) detection we found the following:
  • no evidence of changes to Kings Cross or Parramatta exit traffic from the introduction of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of strong growth in the Parramatta Friday-night exit traffic by about 200% since January 2013, which is independent of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of an increase of about 300% in the Newtown Friday-night exit traffic as a result of the lock-out laws; and
  • in all stations, the BCP algorithm detected a change when OPAL card usage exceeded magnetic ticket usage. This suggests the jumps seen in the graphs below are due to the higher exit reporting from OPAL. The switch from flat to slow growth in trend is probably an artefact of the relative increase in OPAL usage.
Kings Cross change point Friday night.
Kings Cross change point Saturday night.
Newtown change point Friday night.
Newtown change point Saturday night.
Parramatta change point Friday night.
Parramatta change point Saturday night.
  These findings provide new insights into the way people have adjusted their nightlife habits. The most interesting finding is the dramatic increase in access to Newtown nightlife. Exits in Newtown have increased 300% since the lock-outs were introduced in 2014. As can be seen from the graph, the rate of increase has been steady over the study period. This raises questions about whether there is a threshold at which patron density becomes an issue that potentially results in increased nuisance and violence.

Big data’s capacity to help

While this research is still in its early phases, the transport data tell one small, yet significant, part of the story. However, to draw definite conclusions, there is far more that needs to be considered. Many nightlife patrons travel into the city by different means, or don’t travel at all (those who live in and around the city). We need alternative data to try to identify patterns concerning these groups. Several different organisations have data that could help paint a more complete picture, including telcos, Google, Taxis NSW and Uber. While these organisations should be protective of their data, the value of anonymous aggregate location data is how it can inform and advance public policy through ethical research. This information is key to breaking down access barriers. Without access to these anonymous aggregations of privately controlled data, the capacity of research is limited. As such, there is a need for greater communication, collaboration and co-operation between producers of big data, the government and researchers into social impact. By building stronger evidence for all manner of policies, such partnerships have an amazing potential to contribute to the public good. [post_title] => Public transport data begins to reveal true impact of Sydney's lockout laws [post_excerpt] => Newtown's 300% nightlife jump. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26882 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26882 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26714 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:24:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:24:36 [post_content] =>

Alcohol could soon be sold in Australian petrol stations, corner shops and supermarkets.    
By Ben Hagemann and Lucy Marrett 
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Convenience stores, petrol stations and supermarkets should be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, according to a Senate inquiry report into the effects of red tape on alcohol sales.Tabled in parliament yesterday at 5:45pm, the interim report recommended that the Australian Government and COAG (Council of Australian Governments) should allow “packaged alcohol to be sold in convenience stores, petrol stations and supermarkets”, and “support the sale and supply of alcohol through consideration and implementation of evidence-based policies that aim to reduce red tape and promote job creation, and business growth and investment.” The report was originally scheduled for tabling on 14 March 2017. The Red Tape Committee was established in October 2016, and as part of its inquiry, has looked at the effect of red tape on the economy and community while focusing on a number of factors, including the assessment and reduction of red tape legislation in relation to the sale of alcohol.
  Read more here. This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => Red Tape Committee approves booze sales in supermarkets, shops and servos [post_excerpt] => Senate inquiry backs abolishing liquor store trading hours. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => red-tape-committee-approves-booze-sales-convenience-stores [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:28:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:28:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26714 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26689 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-28 11:29:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:29:33 [post_content] =>
[caption id="attachment_26690" align="alignnone" width="377"] Hemp oil and seeds. Hemp seeds from low-THC Cannabis Sativa do not have an intoxicating effect when eaten as food.[/caption]
   
By Ben Hagemann  Although it wouldn’t be considered revolutionary anywhere else in the world, the legalisation of hemp seed as a food here in Australia could be a major game changer. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) has recently announced that it will permit the sale of low-THC hemp seed products, such as flours and oils, for human consumption. The regulatory body has already prepared and assessed a proposal to develop new regulation that will allow the sale of products derived from low delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol varieties of Cannabis Sativa. It is expected that a decision will go before the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation on April 28 this year, which is also when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will be held.   Read more here.
This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => Hemp seeds to be approved as food in Australia [post_excerpt] => FSANZ will permit sale of low-THC hemp seed products. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hemp-seeds-approved-food-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-28 11:29:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:29:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26689 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26676 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-27 13:03:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-27 02:03:16 [post_content] =>   Ku-ring-gai Council on Sydney’s North Shore has won its appeal against a forced merger and the NSW government has been ordered to pay the council’s cost. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Ku-ring-gai Council in a decision handed down today (Monday) and ordered the NSW government to pick up the council’s tab in the Court of Appeal and the bill from earlier cases in the Land and Environment Court.   But despite the panel of three judges ruling that the merger should not proceed in its current form, i.e. merging Ku-ring-gai Council with part of Hornsby Shire Council (the section north of the M2 Motorway); there is no guarantee that Premier Gladys Berejiklian will abandon the idea entirely. The government may appeal the decision or instead opt to restart the Boundary Commission review and release the full KPMG report, a report which the state government has continually argued contained the numbers to back up its financial case for mergers, despite refusing to release the full version while repeatedly insisting it had done so. Delegate Garry West filed a report to the Boundaries Commission recommending the merger go ahead after a public inquiry but the judges concluded that Mr West could not properly assess the financial impact of the merger without access to the full KPMG report, which in turn meant the council had been denied procedural fairness. “The appellant was denied procedural fairness as the delegate chose to rely on the KPMG analysis, rather than conducting his own assessment of the merger, when the appellant was not in possession of the document in which the analysis was contained,” the judgement said. The government had argued that releasing the entire report was contrary to public interest because of concerns over confidentiality but the court disagreed and said public interest was better served by releasing the whole report. The panel said that Mr West had also failed to consider the impact of the merger on the 20,000 Hornsby Shire Council residents south of the M2 Motorway who would not be part of the new council. But the council is not out of the woods yet. The possibility of starting the merger process again for Ku-ring-gai, rather than abandoning it, was flagged in the court’s judgement.  “Although, if the decision were to be remade by the same delegate, it is likely that the same result would be reached, that conclusion does not follow as a matter of law,” the judges said. “It cannot be assumed that the Minister would elect to refer the unchanged proposal for further examination or, if he did, that the process would necessarily produce the same recommendation. If the flawed examination can be redone properly, relief allowing that to happen should be granted.” Despite the warning signs, Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson said she was ‘heartened’ by the court’s decision. “The very real concerns of our council and residents over this merger have been ignored by the government and we feel vindicated by today’s decision,” Ms Anderson said.  “We believe the court’s decision signals a turning point for Premier Berejiklian’s government. If they continue with the merger process they will be flying in the face of our community and the court.” She said the merger should not proceed because Ku-ring-gai ratepayers would be robbed of any real say in how the area was managed and how rates were spent. The Mayor said the council would wait to see what the state government would do after the court’s decision. “We will continue to seek meetings with Premier Berejiklian and the Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton to press our case against being forcibly merged with Hornsby,” she added. Greens Local Government spokesman David Shoebridge called the judgement “an embarrassing blow” for the Berejiklian Government’s forced amalgamation plans, which he said were unravelling, a particular danger with the North Shore by-election so close. “Today the Court of Appeal has said the obvious, that it is blatantly unfair to forcibly amalgamate a local council on the basis of a secret report,” Mr Shoebridge said. “This decision doesn’t just affect Ku-ring-gai Council, it could dismantle every single outstanding amalgamation proposal.                                                                                                                                                  He said the case was a precedent for ‘pretty much every’ forced amalgamation proposal because they were all based on the partially suppressed KPMG report. “The delegates who have recommended forced amalgamations have all relied on summaries from KPMG that allege savings will occur. The Court has now said that these summaries aren’t good enough and they need to see the actual evidence.” A spokesperson for NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton said: "While we are considering the implications of today’s judgement, the NSW Government is committed to the merger of Hornsby and Ku-Ring-Gai councils given the clear benefits it will have for the local communities." [post_title] => Ku-ring-gai Council wins merger appeal, awarded costs [post_excerpt] => Berejiklian on the ropes over KPMG report. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26676 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-28 11:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26676 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26559 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-17 09:36:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-16 22:36:06 [post_content] => Big fine:  Soul Food in Narromine. Pic: Yelp.     By Danielle Bowling    A restaurant in regional NSW will back-pay more than $22,000 to 24 workers – including teenagers paid as little as $7 per hour –  following an audit by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors discovered the underpayments at Soul Food in Narromine, during an auditing campaign in the mid-western and northern regions of NSW last year. Inspectors found casual staff were paid between $7 and $20 an hour on weekdays and between $7 and $23 an hour on Saturdays, depending on their age. However, under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 at the time, the workers should have received ordinary hourly rates of between $11.06 and $22.76 on weekdays, and between $13.76 and $27.32 on Saturdays.   Read more here.   This story first appeared in Hospitality Magazine.  [post_title] => Fair Work orders NSW restaurant to backpay $22k to workers [post_excerpt] => Teens paid as little as $7 an hour. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fair-work-orders-nsw-restaurant-backpay-22k-workers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-17 10:08:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-16 23:08:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26559 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26396 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-03 10:47:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-02 23:47:48 [post_content] =>     Shadow Human Services Minister Linda Burney has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate Human Services Minister Alan Tudge over the leaking of a Centrelink client’s personal information to journalists, alleging he broke social security laws. Blogger and single mother Andie Fox wrote a piece published in Fairfax media on February 6 outlining what she portrayed as cruel and Kaftaesque treatment at the hands of Centrelink, who she said were chasing her for a Family Tax Benefit (FTB) debt because her ex had failed to lodge a tax return. She said she received no child support, had been barred from claiming FTB and could have part of her wages sequestered to pay back her ex’s debt. Fox, an economist, described a ‘vortex of humiliating and frustrating bureaucratic procedures’ and said she was left feeling ‘terrorised by Centrelink’ and ‘angry, emotional, confused, dependent and idiotic’. But her allegations made the Department of Human Services (DHS) see red. It disputed many of her claims and supplied details about her situation to a Canberra Times journalist. The Department hit back and said the FTB debt was because Ms Fox underestimated her income, failed to lodge a tax return, did not confirm income information and waited two years to tell Centrelink she had split with her partner. Centrelink claimed it had cancelled the debt related to her partner not lodging a tax return after she eventually told them they had separated. Centrelink General Manager Hank Jongen disputed Fox's version of events and said Centrelink made multiple attempts to contact her by phone and letter but most went unanswered. Ms Burney said: “Alan Tudge has serious questions to answer. At best, his conduct is unethical. At worst, it is illegal. “The release of this confidential information is a gross breach of trust. How can Australians have confidence that this Government will keep their confidential personal information safe?” But Mr Tudge has argued that he has broken no laws and that the Department was entitled to correct false statements, especially where they could undermine public confidence in the system. “Where a person makes a false public statement about their dealings with the Department of Human Services, whether through the media or otherwise, social security law and family assistance law enables the Department to disclose customer information to the extent that it is necessary to correct factual inaccuracies or potentially misleading information,” Mr Tudge said in a statement. “These provisions are important in order for our public institutions to be able to correct the record when false accusations are made about their conduct. If unanswered, accusations of this kind may have the effect of diminishing public confidence in them.” He said the information supplied by his office about Ms Fox to Fairfax Media was approved by the Department's Chief Legal Counsel and only provided to correct Ms Fox’s 'false assertions'. Meanwhile, senate estimates earlier this week revealed that DHS staff trawled social media to find Centrelink complaints, referring them to Mr Tudge where necessary. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, who will be leading the parliamentary inquiry into Centrelink’s robo-debt stuff-ups, said it was ‘deeply concerning’. She said it could frighten people and deter them from complaining in case their details were leaked to the press to discredit them later. “They’re then taking these complaints rather than seeking to remedy them, and might release your personal details to ‘correct the record’ to protect the ‘public confidence’ and ‘integrity’ of the social security system,” Ms Siewert said. “The Department confirmed they keep an eye on traditional media but to trawl social media is a new development that raises strong concerns. This looks to me more about trying to discourage people from speaking out." She said the government should instead channel its efforts into remedying incorrect debt notices that were distressing benefit claimants. "I am deeply concerned that the Department doesn't have any understanding of the number of overpayments are a result of Centrelink error and don't seem worried that they don't." [post_title] => Labor calls the cops on Tudge over Centrelink privacy stoush [post_excerpt] => Minister says blogger lied. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => labor-calls-cops-tudge-centrelink-privacy-stoush [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-03 11:45:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-03 00:45:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26396 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27154 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-18 10:46:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-18 00:46:53 [post_content] =>     Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. Pic: YouTube. A new Australian Public Service (APS) Privacy Code covering the data citizens give to the federal government will be in place by 2018, prompted by the outcry over Centrelink robo debt and data matching. Today’s [Thursday] joint announcement by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) said the two would work collaboratively on the new code, which aims to ensure a balance between data protection and privacy and data innovation and its use by Commonwealth agencies. Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim told the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, which is conducting a public hearing into the Department of Human Services’ Online Compliance Initiative (OCI) in Canberra today, that the code would cover how data should be ‘respected, protected’ and regulated into the future, consistent with community expectations. Mr Pilgrim said the code would be binding and failure to comply would be a breach of the Privacy Act. The current guidelines are voluntary. He said penalties could range from asking for a written undertaking that an organisation would change their processes and comply - ultimately enforceable in the federal court – to civil penalties in a federal court which could reach up to $1.8 million for serious breaches. The OAIC will lead on the code’s development due to the organisation’s specific privacy expertise and the code will be implemented APS-wide. All agencies will also need to have a privacy management plan in place under the new code. The Department and the OAIC said the code was vital to maximise the value of publicly held data. “The code can therefore be a catalyst to transform the Australian government’s data performance – increasing both internal capacity and external transparency to stakeholders,” they said. Commissioner Pilgrim said the code would ‘support government data innovation that integrates personal data protection’ while giving the APS the ‘skills and capabilities’ it needed to manage personal information. A storm over data privacy occurred after Fairfax published a piece by blogger Andie Fox in February which was highly critical of the DHS’ automated debt recovery drive, designed to claw back more than $1.5 billion over five years. In her article, Ms Fox claimed she had been pursued and ‘terrorised’ by DHS for money she did not owe after a relationship breakdown. In response, DHS disputed Ms Fox’s account and leaked some of her personal information to a journalist, including her Family Tax Benefit claims and relationship details. The government later defended itself arguing that it was allowed to release personal information to correct inaccurate public statements under social security legislation. Federal Labor MP Linda Burney later referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police but the AFP concluded that Human Services Minister Alan Tudge had not breached Commonwealth legislation. The government said the new privacy code would be developed in close collaboration with the APS and data stakeholders and it would apply to all Australian Government entities subject to the Australian Privacy Act 1988.   [post_title] => New APS privacy code on the back of Centrelink robo debt [post_excerpt] => Penalties of up to $1.8m for serious breaches. 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