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                    [post_content] =>  
Election result reprieve for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Pic: YouTube. 

 

The NSW Liberals held onto Manly and North Shore in the state by-elections, despite serious swings against it, while Paralympian basketball player Liesl Tesch won Gosford and extended Labor’s lead to become the state’s first MP in a wheelchair.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be relieved that she has made it through her first election test since former Premier Mike Baird quit in January and comforted that her party was able to hold on to what were previously considered safe seats.

Ms Berejiklian would have been haunted by fears of a repeat of the Orange by-election upset last November when the Shooters and Fishers toppled the Nationals candidate but in the end she was spared the indignity. The Premier had admitted she was braced for 'huge swings' against the government but added that sometimes voted just needed to vent.  

Liberal James Griffin retained Mike Baird’s old seat of Manly, albeit with a primary vote swing of 24.7 per cent swing against him, while Felicity Wilson took ex-NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s former North Shore seat, where the swing was 15.4 per cent against the government.

Some pundits had been predicting that North Shore could fall to Independent Carolyn Corrigan and cause Ms Berejiklian a major embarrassment but it was never transpired.

Pressure had been mounting on the Liberals in the weeks leading up to the by-elections, with Mr Griffin and Ms Wilson both mired in controversy.

A company Mr Griffin co-founded was accused of trading while insolvent and Ms Wilson was caught exaggerating how long she had lived on the North on her statutory declaration and nomination form.

She later slipped up on social media, claiming that she had cast her first ever vote for John Howard in Bennelong in 2001. Fairfax countered her claim by saying she lived in Marrickville at the time, in the Grayndler electorate, and could not have done so.

Ms Berejiklian would have been expected a backlash against her government, at least partly made up of those disaffected by transport problems, overcrowded schools, forced council mergers, greyhound racing and NSW hospital scandals.

The Premier will be preparing in earnest for the next state elections in 2019 when voters may be more eager to punish the incumbent government after eight years in office. 

It was good news for Labor in the Central Coast seat of Gosford as Liesl Tesch and widened the party’s margin in what had been the state’s most precarious seat with a 14 per cent swing.

Labor MP Kathy Smith, who retired due to ill health earlier this year, beat Liberal state MP Chris Holstein in the 2015 Gosford election by only 203 votes.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said Ms Berejiklian should take responsibility for the major swings against the Liberals, which he said were more than 25 per cent in some polling booths.

“In November the voters in three seats said the Government should change – it changed Premier but it didn’t change direction. Today voters in three different seats told the Government again it needs to change direction – it is time for Ms Berejiklian to start listening," Mr Foley said. 

He praised Ms Tesch and said she had fought a strong campaign.

“This is a great victory for the Central Coast. Liesl is a fighter. She has been a success at everything she has attempted in life and I know she will be a great representative for the people of the Central Coast when she takes up her position in the State Parliament.”
                    [post_title] => Relief for Berejiklian in state by-elections despite serious swings
                    [post_excerpt] => Labor keeps Gosford, increases margin. 
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                    [post_content] => 

 

If the bookies are right, Independent candidate Carolyn Corrigan could cause a huge upset in tomorrow’s (Saturday) North Shore by-election and topple the Liberals right where it hurts: in its leafy Sydney heartland.

As the contest hots up in former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s North Shore seat, online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has revealed that a flurry of late bets on Ms Corrigan’s chances have made the Libs look wobbly in a seat they hold by a 30.4 per cent margin.

Will Byrne from Sportsbet.com.au said there was strong support for Ms Corrigan, whose odds had shortened significantly in the run-up to the election from $4.00 into $2.50, suggesting that Saturday’s state  by-election will be a close run thing.

“The Liberals looked safe in North Shore but there’s been some money in the past few days to suggest the race is not run there yet,” Mr Byrne said.

The North Shore electorate takes in the local government areas of Mosman and North Sydney and both councils have stridently resisted the state government’s attempts to merge them with their neighbours.

Ms Corrigan is a former president of anti-forced council amalgamation community group Save Our Councils and she will be hoping the community’s rebellious sentiment continues to the ballot box.


Independent candidate Carolyn Corrigan

 

But all is not lost for Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson, a former president of the NSW Liberal Women's Council, and she is still odds on to win at $1.50.

Ms Wilson came under fire earlier this week when Fairfax published a story rubbishing her claims that she had lived in the lower North Shore electorate – in Neutral Bay, Waverton and Wollstonecraft - for more than a decade.

Electoral records showed she had lived in several addresses outside the electorate at various points during five of those twelve years. Ms Wilson later apologised, calling it an ‘unintentional error’.

She was also criticised for claiming that the first ever vote she cast was for John Howard in Bennelong in 2001. Fairfax countered her claim by saying she lived in Marrickville, in the Grayndler electorate, at the time and could not have done so. She later admitted she had made a mistake.

But whether this controversy is serious enough to cruel Ms Wilson’s chances is another matter.

North Shore has been considered a very safe blue ribbon Liberal seat since 1991, although it has fallen to independents in the past, most notably to Independent North Sydney Mayor Ted Mack.

Interestingly, it is not a two horse race. In fact, the Greens have outpolled Labor to come second in the last three state elections. However, Sportsbet has Greens candidate Justin Alick at $34, with a Donald Trump-style shock needed for a payout.


Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Sportsbet will be hoping it makes a better fist of predicting the North Shore result than it did when Donald Trump scored a shock victory in the US election in November last year when the company reportedly paid out $11 million to 25,000 punters who picked Trump for POTUS.

This weekend also sees two other NSW by-elections, former NSW Premier Mike Baird’s seat of Manly and Gosford, which was vacated by Labor MP Kathy Smith when she retired due to ill health earlier this year.

The bookies have both seats as clear wins: one for Labor and one for the Liberals.

Manly is tipped to go to the Liberals ($1.10) and Gosford to Labor ($1.05), despite Gosford being the state’s most marginal seat and held by Labor by only 0.2 per cent. Ms Smith narrowly beat Liberal state MP Chris Holstein in 2015 by only 203 votes.

Gosford is another seat where council mergers could affect the result and the forced amalgamation between Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils could tip the balance against the Liberals.

Labor’s candidate for Gosford is Liesl Tesch, an Australian wheelchair basketball player and sailor, while the Liberals are fielding organ donation campaigner and office manager Jilly Pilon.

 

What are the odds?

North Shore by-election

$1.50   Liberal             

$2.50   Independent (Carolyn Corrigan)

$16      Independent (Ian Mutton)     

$16      Independent (Harry Fine)      

$34      Green

$51      Animal Justice Party

$51      Voluntary Euthanasia

$101    Christian Democrats

 

Gosford by-election

$1.05   Labor   

$8.50   Liberal

$16      Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

$51      Animal Justice Party   

$51      Christian Democrats

$101    Green

 

Manly by-election

$1.10   Liberal   

$7.50   Independent (Ron Delezio)

$9.00   Independent (Kathryn Ridge)

$11      Green

$21      Independent (running for One Nation)         

$21      Independent (John Cook)

$21      Independent (Haris Jackman)            

$26      Independent (Brian Clare)     

$26      Independent (Victor Waterson)

$51      Voluntary Euthanasia (Kerry Bromson)         

$51      Animal Justice (Ellie Robertson)        

$51      Christian Democrats

$51      Independent (James Mathison)
                    [post_title] => Bookies shorten odds for independent to win North Shore by-election
                    [post_excerpt] => Will the Libs topple in leafy la-la land?
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                    [post_date] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21
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                    [post_content] => 

Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’?

  Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), representing companies responsible for the majority of container transport to and from the Port of Melbourne, has called on the Andrews’ Victorian Labor Government to help container transport operators get a ‘fair go’ in the toll pricing to use the West Gate Tunnel. CTAA was responding to the announcements by the Victorian Premier that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project (formally known as the Western Distributor Project) to commence in early 2018, and that once completed, there would be 24/7 ‘bans’ on trucks on roads in the inner west of Melbourne. CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “Not surprisingly, container transport operators in the inner and outer Western industrial suburbs undertake numerous truck trips to and from the Port of Melbourne during the day, at night and on weekends, to service vital container trade volumes through the biggest container port in Australia.” “The original government business case called for Transurban to consider a reduced toll price for transport operators undertaking these shuttle operations, as well as suitable trip caps, and the favourable treatment of Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles.”   Read more here.  This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’? [post_excerpt] => 24/7 'ban' on trucks in inner western Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-west-gate-tunnel-ban-trucks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26841 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26630 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-24 10:06:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-23 23:06:59 [post_content] =>

 

The National Retail Association (NRA) has warned that Labor’s private members bill to block the Fair Work Commission’s reduction in Sunday penalty rates, sets a dangerous precedent for all independent ruling bodies across the nation.NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that leveraging political interests to undermine the independence of the industrial relations system should sound alarm bells for everyone, regardless of their stance on penalty rates. “The Commission was created by the Labor Party so that the industrial relations system would be fair, equitable, and free from political interest,” Lamb said. “And yet, it’s now shaping up to be an election issue, amid a worrying campaign designed to undermine the FWC’s purpose and due process, not to mention the three years of submissions, hearings and deliberations it took to come to this decision. While we’d fully anticipated this issue would be politicised, the introduction of a private members bill to undermine the independence of the system, to quash the rule of law, is taking this issue far beyond mere political rhetoric,” she said.     Dominique Lamb.    Read more here.
This story first appeared in Appliance Retailer. [post_title] => Labor's penalty rate fight sets dangerous precedent [post_excerpt] => Undermines Fair Work, says retail peak body. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => labors-penalty-rate-fight-sets-dangerous-precedent-says-retail-peak-body [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-24 14:22:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-24 03:22:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26630 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26323 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-02-24 10:13:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-23 23:13:02 [post_content] =>   By Ben Hagemann After 39 days of hearing, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) yesterday (Thursday) handed down a decision that will see Sunday penalty rates cut from double-time to time-and-a-half pay. The new move will ease overhead pressures on small business retailers who employ staff on weekends but it has enraged unions, the Greens and Labor who say it will create a 'whole new class of the working poor'. The full bench of the FWC has not changed Saturday penalty rates, stating it was satisfied that the existing Saturday penalty rates achieve the modern award’s objective to provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net. The Full Bench also stated it did not reduce Sunday penalty rates to the same level as Saturday penalty rates, noting that for many people Sundays had a higher level of “disutility” than Saturday work, albeit that the extent of that disutility was significantly lower than for periods further in the past. It was viewed as implicit in the claims advanced by most of the employer interests that “they accepted the proposition that the disutility associated with Sunday work is higher than the disutility associated with Saturday work”.   Read more here.   This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => Fair Work Commission slashes Sunday penalty rates: Employers jubilant, workers and unions furious [post_excerpt] => Double time to time-and-a-half. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sunday-penalty-rates-cut-employers-jubilant-unions-furious [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-24 10:13:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-23 23:13:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26323 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26270 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-02-17 10:38:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-16 23:38:57 [post_content] =>
      By Deborah Jackson, Editor National Liquor News A proposal to ban alcohol advertising on public transport in Western Australia has been slammed by the alcohol industry. The Western Australia Labor party has announced that a future Labor Government would honour current advertising contracts but would ban all new advertising of alcohol-related products on public transport. It is understood that the Liberal-led Government does not support a ban because advertising on public transport generates about $7 million in revenue per year of which about 10 per cent is generated through alcohol-related advertising, and all advertising on public assets must comply with industry advertising standards, which is the case in WA. Fergus Taylor, the Executive Director of Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) said that the Labor Government's stance is poorly thought out and is not supported by credible research or data. “This is a poor policy decision taken on the run without industry consultation and isn’t even supported by official Government data,” Taylor said. “The government has made a sensible decision to reject this proposal after a more thorough assessment of the evidence.   Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout.  [post_title] => Proposed booze advertising ban on WA public transport [post_excerpt] => But $7m revenue at stake. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => booze-ban-wa-public-transport [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-17 11:39:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-17 00:39:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26270 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26201 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-09 11:57:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-09 00:57:44 [post_content] =>   Human Services Minister Alan Tudge with PM Malcolm Turnbull     The federal government’s contentious $4 billion Centrelink debt clawback will face scrutiny after Labor and the Greens succeeded in their push for a senate inquiry. The Senate Community Affairs References Committee will examine the flawed data matching process – which Human Services Minister Alan Tudge earlier revealed had an error rate of 20 per cent – and look at the Department’s response to complaints about it. Another key task of the inquiry will be to assess the impact of the fraud crackdown on benefit recipients, including students, families, seniors, jobseekers and people with disabilities, some of which has been detailed in personal stories on sites such as Get Up! Senators will also look at how the Department managed the Online Compliance Intervention (OCI), what kind of risk assessment was done and whether DHS threw enough resources at it, as well as the impact on staff of increased customer aggression generated by it. The Committee’s full terms of reference are broad and include:
  • The error rates of debt notices, when these were identified and action taken to remedy this
  • Centrelink’s complaints and review process - The government’s response to concerns raised by affected individuals, Centrelink and departmental staff, community groups and parliamentarians
  • How well DHS staff and systems have coped with higher levels of demand since the compliance program began
  • The adequacy of data matching Centrelink and ATO information
  • Contracts related to the debt collection system and how these were awarded
  • Whether the debt recovery scheme complies with debt collection guidelines and Australian privacy and consumer laws
  • How well the department managed the workload of the OCI, including the impact of the roll out and subsequent complaints on staff; staff training; the adequacy of IT and telephone systems; what risk analysis was done and feedback from staff from system testing
  • The impact of the debt collection process on the elderly, job seekers, students, families and people with disabilities
  • The administration and management of customers’ records by Centrelink
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is hoping that the inquiry reveals “the full extent of dysfunction with the policy and more broadly in the Department of Human Services (DHS)”. The union has spent three years attempting to renegotiate a new enterprise agreement for Human Services’ staff with little success. Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support workers will commence six days of targeted industrial action on February 13th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd and 24th in protest at the robo-debt crisis and the stalled Australian Public Service enterprise bargaining process. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the scheme had so far resulted in “tens of thousands of Australians” being wrongly hounded for money they either didn’t owe. “Our members working in Centrelink are looking forward to this inquiry so they can shine a light on what’s caused this shameful robo-debt crisis and what should be done from here,” Ms Flood said. “This debt program has been terrible for the more than 200,000 ordinary Australians who’ve been sent letters, but also for hardworking staff.” Ms Flood said the DHS had done a hatchet job on its staff, rather than face its own shortcomings. “The Department of Human Services has been far more concerned with gagging its staff and fudging its performance indicators than fixing this mess, so this is an important opportunity for staff to speak openly about how things have gone so wrong and their suggestions to maintain the integrity of our welfare system without the unnecessary collateral damage.” Claims have surfaced from staff that they were told to direct anxious claimants querying their debt away from Centrelink offices and online instead. “The culture has changed from trying to assist customers to avoiding assisting customers,” said one.  “Customers are disgruntled and desperate for guidance, staff are disgruntled and stressed.” Another staff member alleged: “It is interesting that the official line is still that face-to-face service is available as requested. Good luck with that. Of course, should there be a friend of the manager or an MP request, they do get the service that should be provided to every customer." But Mr Tudge has repeatedly denied there are problems with the system. He told 2GB’s Warren Moore on January 26 that “in most cases there is a very clear overpayment, and most people do have to pay that money back.” DHS spokesperson Hank Jongen has laid the blame for system failure on staff, saying some staff “do not welcome technology driven change” and are only happy when they can micro manage benefit claims. Ms Flood said she hoped senators would look at the wider problems in the agency and the impact that was having on staff and customers.  “Our members were warning for months that this automated debt system would not work, but this is an agency where the bosses don’t listen to their staff. The situation has highlighted the dysfunctional workplace culture across this agency, and the damage caused by years of budget cuts and the 5,000 jobs that have been slashed.” The Greens spokesperson on community issue Senator Rachel Siewert labelled the government’s automated debt recovery system “a disaster” and said the inquiry would be uncomfortable for a government who refused to back down or explain. “The inquiry will enable those who have been affected to have a voice and to tell us how they have been affected,” Ms Siewert said. “The lack of human oversight, the onus of proof being on the recipient, the catalogue of experiences by struggling Australians who have been told they have a debt when they do not, the failing infrastructure that means people can’t get through to Centrelink on the phone and the website, all of this must be explained now in a senate hearing.” She said no stone would go unturned. “This inquiry will assess the impact on Australians, and how much capacity was given to Centrelink services to cope with the program, we will look at advice given to Centrelink staff, how many debt notices were in error. I hope this provides answers to thousands of struggling Australians”. The committee is due to report on May 10. A deadline for submissions has not yet been set. [post_title] => Centrelink robo-debt nightmare scrutinised by the Senate: Here's what they'll look at [post_excerpt] => Full terms of reference revealed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => centrelink-robo-debt-nightmare-scrutinised-senate-heres-theyl [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-09 16:16:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-09 05:16:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26201 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26143 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-01 16:32:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-01 05:32:29 [post_content] => Labor's 2016 Mediscare TV and YouTube ad featuring Bob Hawke. Pic: YouTube     Labor has launched an online portal encouraging Australians to submit their experiences of Medicare and the impact of healthcare cuts, in a sign that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will continue to attack Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Medicare. Mr Shorten said the new portal – mymedicarestory.com - was established in response to complaints from Australians about ‘serious delays in Medicare processing’ under the Turnbull government. He said some people had reported a six-week delay getting a refund. “We know that because of this Government's cuts to vital services some people are falling through the cracks,” Mr Shorten said. “We want to know when that happens, so we can help ensure our health care system is strengthened now and in the future. “Labor will never stop fighting to protect Medicare from Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals. Today there is a clear message for Malcolm Turnbull -  give Medicare the best  birthday present by dropping the savage cuts to health which will see bulk billing drop, every Australian pay more and Medicare undermined.” Submissions using the portal are anonymous and can be confidential, if requested. Mr Shorten’s Mediscare message – warning voters that Mr Turnbull was trying to sell off or privatise Medicare through the back door - became central to Labor’s campaign during the 2016 federal election. The Opposition wheeled out former PM Bob Hawke to front the TV and YouTube advertising campaign, warning that the Liberals had set up “a Medicare privatisation taskforce” that would destroy the country’s healthcare system. Mr Shorten used the fact that the government was exploring outsourcing Medicare payments as leverage to suggest that the whole kit and caboodle could follow suit. Shortly afterwards, Mr Turnbull said Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, health, aged-care and related veterans’ payments would continue to be managed by the government and disbanded the $5 million Digital Payments Services Taskforce, which had been aided by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Department of Health is understood to have held market briefings with IT providers in Sydney and Melbourne last month in a bid to select potential partners to help replace Medicare’s 30-year-old system ahead of the Request For Proposal. [post_title] => Labor continues to attack Turnbull on Medicare with new online portal [post_excerpt] => Medicare still major battleground. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => labor-continues-to-attack-turnbull-on-medicare-with-new-online-portal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-03 09:56:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-02 22:56:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26143 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25721 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-02 10:13:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-01 23:13:41 [post_content] => emu-plains-correctional-centre-supplied Aerial view of Emu Plains Correctional Centre. Photo: Supplied.         NSW Premier Mike Baird’s plans to build a pop-up prison at Emu Plains housing 400 maximum security inmates in demountables will be built on some of the most dangerous flood plains in NSW, the Opposition has said. NSW Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari argued that the state government was aware that developing the Western Sydney site, which already houses a 200-bed women’s prison Emu Correctional Centre, would present “a risk to human life”. Mr Zangari said that a leaked letter from the Department of Planning to Penrith City Council showed that the government had stepped in to halt an earlier council proposal to develop land adjacent to the pop-up prison site. “The Baird government’s own planning department recognises that any further development in Emu Plains is dangerous, yet tough talking Minister for Corrections David Elliott is pushing ahead anyway,” Mr Zangari said. He said Penrith Council wanted to rezone land near the prison for 60 houses but the Department of Planning rejected the planning proposal. “Given the current evacuation capacity constraints and consequent risk to life, further development of flood prone land in Emu Plains is not supported,” said the Department’s letter to the council. “Consideration was given to the complex nature of flood evacuation around Emu Plains and that any development of this nature would adversely add to the regional evacuation capacity constraints.” But a Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman denied lives would be at risk. “Corrective Services NSW is aware of concerns about the proposed expansion, which includes a 240-bed facility for women and a facility for men,” she said. “If any risk could not be fully addressed then the project would not go ahead.” Hydrologists will ensure the proposal would have no impact on flooding and evacuation routes will be considered during site investigations. She said the prison’s expansion would follow state environmental planning legislation, which included exploring potential environmental impacts and taking into account geotechnical information, stormwater and waste management. The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley area is well documented as being vulnerable to flooding. The 2014 Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Management Review Stage One said that during heavy rain water entered the floodplain much faster than it could escape. Flood waters can rise rapidly and create a ‘bathtub effect caused by natural choke points’. “A combination of large upstream catchments and narrow downstream sandstone gorges results in floodwaters backing up behind these natural ‘choke points’,” said the review. “Floodwaters rise rapidly causing significant flooding both in terms of area and depth.” But while the vulnerability of the area to flooding is established the likelihood of a catastrophic flood is up for debate. The last major one was in 1897 when flood waters hit 19.5 metres. Local flood plain and environmental expert Steven Molino told news.com in 2012 that there was a one in 200 chance of the 1867 flood occurring. "These things do happen. They don't always happen where there's people or houses, but when they do we have a major catastrophe,” Mr Molino said. The NSW government has also been criticised for a dearth of community consultation about the new prison. Mr Zangari said: “The government didn’t even have the decency to tell the community about its pop-up prison plans when they first emerged, now they’re learning that their lives are at risk too.” A NSW Corrections spokeswoman said Justice NSW would commence a targeted community consultation once the development of the concept plan was complete, which would be in the coming weeks. [post_title] => Pop-up prison could flood: Labor [post_excerpt] => Flood plain risk. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => emu-plains-pop-prison-flood-labor [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-02 10:29:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-01 23:29:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25721 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25448 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-11-01 11:27:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-01 00:27:26 [post_content] =>  bill-mcarthur-jpg Shock exit: Local government champion Bill McArthur   One of Victoria’s longest serving councillors and the former president of the state’s peak body for councils has launched a broadside at Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews after his shock defeat at last week’s local council elections. Bill Mr McArthur spent 23 years as a Golden Plains councillor and almost eight years as President of Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) but failed to win a seat on council this time around. Mr McArthur, who has long been a champion for rural Victorian councils, said the Premier had dealt harshly with local councils by reinstating rate capping and continuing to shift the costs of providing services onto local government, casting councils as the villains when they could no longer continue to provide them. He said that withdrawing the Country Roads and Bridges Program, which gave smaller rural councils $1 million a year to maintain roads, had been a huge blow as had stopping small grants to small rural councils that had been used to fund community infrastructure. “They have made it very difficult because rural councils don’t have alternative ways of raising revenue,” Mr McArthur said. “They don’t have parking or opportunities for business units like the big metros do.” He said he had not even met Mr Andrews since he was elected Premier in November 2014. “I don’t believe he made the effort to engage with local government and he is the only Premier in my time that didn’t. I never had the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with him.” But Mr McArthur would not be drawn further, “I prefer go out with a bit of dignity. We should let sleeping dogs lie.” Seventy-eight of the state’s 79 councils went to the polls last weekend, with the exception of Geelong, which is under administration after an Office of Local Government investigation found widespread bullying and intimidation.   Election headlines
  • Election of anti-mosque campaigner Julie Hoskins in Greater Bendigo
  • Socialist Alliance candidate Sue Bolton elected in Moreland
  • Number of female councillors up by 4 per cent on 2012 elections. Fifteen councils now have a female majority
  • Greens do well in inner Melbourne councils such as Yarra, Port Phillip and Moreland but not so well elsewhere
  • Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle wins a record third term
  • Brimbank council runs elections after an eight-year hiatus following council sacking amid allegations of councillor corruption and misconduct
  • Two members of the sacked Brimbank Council re-elected: Margaret Guidice and Sam David.
  • Tony Briffa, reportedly the world’s first intersex mayor, re-elected to Hobsons Bay Council after resigning midterm in 2014
  • Shock exit of MAV President Bill McArthur
  Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) Chief Executive Officer, Rob Spence said he was pleased that there had been a four per cent increase in women councillors. He said that 38 per cent, or 243 councillors, were women. “This is a great achievement. While we’ve got a way to go to reach equal gender representation around the councillor table, this is a step in the right direction,” he said. “It’s also pleasing to see some fresh faces joining council ranks with 323 new councillors elected, joining 314 re-elected councillors. A total of 152 incumbent councillors were defeated and 138 councillors retired.” He said that all candidates should be proud of their efforts, even if they did not get elected. “It takes a lot of courage to put your hand up for a spot on council and it is highly competitive.” He also paid tribute to outgoing MAV President Mr McArthur, calling him a “dedicated and passionate councillor” and an effective MAV President. “Bill leaves a long legacy of accomplishments achieved during his time as MAV President. This includes the landmark signing of the Victorian State-Local Government Agreement, the establishment of MAV Procurement and Australia’s first municipal bonds, plus representing the sector at the Bushfires Royal Commission. “Under Bill’s leadership significant funding wins for the sector were also achieved including restoration of 50:50 funding partnerships for maternal and child health services, and a fairer planning fees regime.” He said that Mr McArthur had help secure other notable wins for local government, including doubling Roads to Recovery funding from the Commonwealth over several years and working at the national level as Vice President of the Australian Local Government Association. Meanwhile, the Herald Sun reported that there had been 250 complaints about the Victorian elections, most of them being objections to electoral material but one concerning bribery. Former Whittlesea Mayor John Fry was dramatically arrested in the lead-up to the elections, accused of defacing election posters in Bundoora. Mr Fry, who had complained about the election material of one of his rivals, Norm Kelly, was not re-elected. Government News contacted the Victorian Electoral Commission and was told that the number and nature of complaints could not yet been confirmed. The spokesperson said they would be referred for investigation to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate. Election statistics:
  • A total of 2135 candidates nominated for 637 vacancies across 78 municipalities (Geelong will not have an election until 2017)
  • 314 of 637 vacancies were filled by incumbent councillors, 323 were new councillors and 152 contesting councillors were defeated
  • 243 or 38.1 per cent of all councillors elected are women, up from 34 per cent in 2012
  • All 78 councils have women councillors
  • Fifteen councils have a majority of women councillors: Brimbank (7/11), Corangamite (5/7), Darebin (6/9), Greater Bendigo (5/9), Indigo (4/7), Macedon Ranges (5/9), Manningham (5/9), Maribyrnong (5/7), Melton (5/9), Moonee Valley (5/9), Murrindindi (5/7), Stonnington (5/9), Surf Coast (5/9), Whitehorse (6/10), Yarra (5/9).
  • 47 incumbent mayors were returned, 15 mayors retired, and 14 contesting mayors were defeated.
[post_title] => Ousted Victorian councillor launches broadside at Premier after council elections [post_excerpt] => Shock exits, election complaints, more women [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => departing-victorian-councillor-launches-broadside-premier-local-council-elections [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-01 11:28:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-01 00:28:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25448 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24524 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-07-25 19:04:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-25 09:04:04 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24525" align="alignnone" width="300"]Michelle Rowland_opt Michelle Rowland gets Communications. [/caption]   Labor leader Bill Shorten has revealed the Opposition’s full Shadow Ministry for the forthcoming Parliamentary term with a renewed emphasis on harnessing social equity issues to take the fight up to the Turnbull government. Following a campaign that was spearheaded by the so-called ‘Mediscare’ tactic, a reshuffle of key Shadow Cabinet positions has netted Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek the Education portfolio while her ally Penny Wong moves from Finance to Foreign Affairs and Trade. In terms of those who came up short, former Shadow Defence Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has pulled only Special Minister of State and Sports, a clear signal that Labor is muscling-up to try and take down government ministers on governance issues, a point Mr Shorten alluded to in his press conference. Rejecting suggestions that Senator Conroy – who is renowned for his verbal pugilism – had been was pushed over his stance on the South China Sea, Mr Shorten made it clear Parliament’s Committee process will be a renewed focus of attack. “As we all know he can be quite forensic and tough in terms of estimates performances, keeping the Government to account,” Mr Shorten said. “Stephen Conroy moving into Special Minister of State is not good news for slack and lazy Government ministers or for Government ministers try to cover up ineptitude or worse. This is not good news for the Government.” Conroy’s replacement in Shadow Defence is Richard Marles, While Catherine King retains Shadow Health, a striking cosmetic addition following the election campaign is the rebranding of the shadow portfolio to “Health and Medicare”, with Tony Zappia picking up a specific Medicare shadow assistant ministry to keep that fire alight. Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, didn’t make Shadow Cabinet but still scored well picking up the Human Services shadow ministry from Doug Cameron who gets expanded roles as Shadow for both Skills and Apprenticeships and Housing and Homelessness. As a seasoned minister and veteran of the NSW Parliament, Burney’s selection for the ‘issues rich’ Human Services portfolio – which persistently burned on talkback radio for Doug Cameron – will not give her opposite Alan Tudge or Social Services Minister Christian Porter any comfort. Another Turnbull Cabinet member, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, is also set for a bumpy ride after Michelle Rowland drew Shadow Communications. With a strong, frank and down-to-earth manner, Rowland’s ability to translate often technical issues around broadband into the plain English of outer suburbia is certain to hit hard. After a very public brawl within the left faction, socialist stalwart Kim Carr has kept Shadow Innovation, Industry, Science and Research despite a push to oust him from Shadow Cabinet. One of the numerical casualties of that stoush has been rising star and economist Andrew Leigh who remains outside Shadow Cabinet but gets Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Competition and Productivity, Charities and Not-for-Profits under Treasury and Shadow Minister for Trade in Services under Trade and Investment. After a stellar performance in the previous Parliamentary term, Leigh’s fate has again underscored the perils of hailing from the Australian Capital Territory that which carries little clout in terms of crucial factional numbers. Those keeping existing Shadow Cabinet posts and Ministries remain largely as anticipated. Chris Bowen retains Shadow Treasurer, Jenny Macklin retains Families and Social Services, Mark Butler keeps Climate Change, Anthony Albanese keeps Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development and Mark Dreyfus keeps Attorney General with National Security added in. Click here for full list of the Labor Shadow Ministry. [post_title] => Shorten’s new Shadow Ministry: Who to watch [post_excerpt] => Welfare, Medicare & Broadband key fronts [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => who-to-watch-in-bill-shortens-shadow-ministry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-28 12:29:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-28 02:29:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24524 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24494 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-07-25 13:12:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-25 03:12:40 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24510" align="alignnone" width="300"]Shorten Head pic_opt Labor leader Bill Shorten. Pic :Facebook[/caption]

Federal Labor Shadow Ministry List as announced 23 July 2016

 
 TITLE  SHADOW MINISTER
Leader of the Opposition  Hon Bill Shorten MP
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders  Hon Bill Shorten MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders  Senator Patrick Dodson
Shadow Cabinet Secretary  Senator the Hon Jacinta Collins
Shadow Assistant Minister for Family Violence and Child Safety  Terri Butler MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Digital Economy and Startups  Tim Hammond MP
Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader (Tasmania)  Senator Helen Polley


Deputy Leader of the Opposition  Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Shadow Minister for Education  Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Shadow Minister for Women  Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Schools  Andrew Giles MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Universities Terri Butler MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Equality  Terri Butler MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development  Hon Kate Ellis MP
Shadow Minister for TAFE and Vocational Education  Hon Kate Ellis MP
Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships Senator the Hon Doug Cameron
Shadow Assistant Minister for Early Childhood Senator the Hon Jacinta Collins


Leader of the Opposition in the Senate  Senator the Hon Penny Wong
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs  Senator the Hon Penny Wong
Shadow Minister for International Development & the Pacific Senator Claire Moore


Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate  Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Shadow Special Minister of State Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Shadow Minister for Sport  Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy


Shadow Treasurer  Hon Chris Bowen MP
Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services  Senator Katy Gallagher
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Hon Andrew Leigh MP
Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity Hon Andrew Leigh MP
Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits Hon Andrew Leigh MP
Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Senator Sam Dastyari
Manager of Opposition Business (Senate) Senator Sam Dastyari
Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury  Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Small Business  Julie Owens MP


Shadow Minister for Environment and Water  Hon Tony Burke MP
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia  Hon Tony Burke MP
Shadow Minister for the Arts  Hon Tony Burke MP
Manager of Opposition Business (House) Hon Tony Burke MP
 Shadow Assistant Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia   Senator the Hon Jacinta Collins
Shadow Assistant Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia  Julie Owens MP


Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy  Hon Mark Butler MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change  Pat Conroy MP


Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services  Hon Jenny Macklin MP
Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Senator the Hon Doug Cameron
Shadow Minister for Human Services Hon Linda Burney MP
Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers Senator Carol Brown
Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities   Senator Louise Pratt


Shadow Minister for Defence  Hon Richard Marles MP
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Shadow Minister for Defence Personnel Hon Amanda Rishworth MP


Shadow Assistant Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Hon Warren Snowdon MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence Personnel  Gai Brodtmann MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence Industry and Support   Hon Mike Kelly AM MP


Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Shadow Minister for Tourism  Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government Stephen Jones MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure  Pat Conroy MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for External Territories  Hon Warren Snowdon MP


Shadow Minister for Finance  Jim Chalmers MP


Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Hon Brendan O’Connor MP
Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Workforce Participation Ed Husic MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Workplace Relations  Lisa Chesters MP


Shadow Attorney General  Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP
Shadow Minister for National Security Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP
Deputy Manager of Opposition Business (House) Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP
Shadow Minister for Justice Clare O’Neil MP


Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  Hon Shayne Neumann MP


Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research   Senator the Hon Kim Carr
Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing and Science Hon Nick Champion MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation Tim Hammond MP


Shadow Minister for Communications Hon Michelle Rowland MP
Shadow Minister for Regional Communications  Stephen Jones MP


Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry  Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP
Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Australia Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Australia  Lisa Chesters MP


Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia  Hon Jason Clare MP
Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Hon Jason Clare MP
Shadow Minister for Trade in Services Hon Andrew Leigh MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Resources and Western Australia  Tim Hammond MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Northern Australia  Hon Warren Snowdon MP


Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare  Hon Catherine King MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare  Tony Zappia MP


Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health  Hon Julie Collins MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing   Senator Helen Polley
[Key] Bold: Shadow Cabinet Minister Plain: Full Shadow Minister Italics: Shadow Assistant Minister [post_title] => Labor Shadow Ministry List (Federal) [post_excerpt] => Full list with sensible formatting [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => federal-labor-opposition-shadow-ministry-full-list [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-25 19:08:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-25 09:08:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24494 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24321 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-07-05 00:01:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-04 14:01:02 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24323" align="alignnone" width="300"]Electoral roll_opt On a roll. Party databases are a data goldmine. Pic: AEC[/caption]     Every working day across Australia, a familiar scene is repeated in state and federal Electoral Commission offices that goes to the very heart of privacy, democracy and data in Australia. Seated at secure, stand-alone computer terminals, private investigators using just a pen and paper meticulously check the nation’s electoral rolls for details of persons of interest. It might be a spouse or relative who has unexpectedly disappeared or an executor looking for unknowing beneficiaries of a will. More often than not, it’s debt collectors and their lawyers looking for a physical address to deliver legal paperwork vital to commence proceedings. No electronic copies of the Electoral Roll information can be made, either by download or mobile device, making manually writing down elector details by hand the sole point of public access.
It’s an obstructive quirk that’s there to stop the mass harvesting of information and protect the privacy of individuals participating in Australia’s compulsory system of secret ballots that underpin our electoral system and democracy.
Yet the Electoral Rolls must be open for access and inspection. “Under section 90A in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the right to access the electoral roll is integral to the conduct of free and fair elections as it allows participants to verify the openness and accountability of the electoral process,” the Australian Electoral Office says on its official description. “The AEC also protects personal information on the electoral roll from being misused under the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988,” the Commission adds. But there’s a catch – and it’s a huge one. The Privacy Act doesn’t extend to politicians or their parties. While private companies, banks and marketers are all legally barred from electronically accessing or using Electoral Roll information, it’s a very different story for political parties, candidates and their staff who mine, slice and dice voter information using their own proprietary software systems. And just what voter information is kept on those party and candidate systems, how it is collected and used and what, if any, safeguards are in place to protect it has so far avoided any independent or regulatory scrutiny.
The first rule about party electoral databases is that you don’t talk about party electoral databases.
And with even voters unable to access what is being kept on them, they remain the darkest corner of supposedly open democracy in a digital age.   Privacy Free Zone When the Australian Law Reform Commission released its landmark review of the Privacy Act in 2008, it delivered a cornerstone recommendation that both major parties were happy to let quietly die through lack of political support. With a strong sense of the increasing power and potentially intrusive reach of digital technology, the ALRC recommended that the exemption from the reach of Privacy Act for parties, candidates, staffers, contractors and volunteers be dropped. The move would have opened the secretive and murky way in which data is collected, held and used on electors to independent scrutiny and regulation for the first time. The ALRC review also suggested that, like with other government and business organisations, individuals should be able to access information held on them by political parties and be able to correct errors in party information holdings. Specifically, ALRC’s 2008 report said: “The ALRC is not convinced, however, that all (or even the majority) of information-handling activities undertaken by registered political parties and those engaged in political acts and practices warrant legislative immunity. In particular, registered political parties and those engaging in political acts and practices should:
  • collect information by lawful and fair means; ensure the quality and security of the information;
  • set out their policies on the management of personal information;
  • let individuals know what personal information is held about them; and
  • allow individuals the right to access and correct such information.”
The recommendations went nowhere. [quote]With a legislative amendment needed to cement any new access and oversight regime, both major parties were happy for the change to not even make it past first base.[/quote] It’s not hard to see why.   Digital campaigns give privacy the finger With Labor having commandingly won what was then Australia’s first truly web-powered and social media driven election contest – better known as Kevin 07 – data-driven campaigning, targeting and fund raising from voters wasn’t just a new political weapon; it was seen as the must have tactical campaigning advantage. Since then, both Labor and the Coalition have invested heavily in powerful new analytical, modelling and outreach software that fuses together elector details, demographics, views and concerns and interactions with candidates...and mostly paid for by taxpayers. [caption id="attachment_24322" align="alignleft" width="300"]Magenta Campaign Monitor Street by street. Pic: Magenta Linas website.[/caption] So-called “Robo-Calls” and “War Diallers”, political text messages, online advertising, social media targeting and influencer outreach all, in some way or another, rely on party electronic access to electoral rolls because they quite literally tell them where the votes are.
They know where you live, what keeps you up at night and whether or not you’re likely to donate.
But as the party database systems get bigger, more powerful and arguably more intrusive, the secrecy around their operation and holdings intensifies.   Closed window on democracy at work Because information about electoral databases is so highly guarded, and independent scrutiny completely absent, when information does surface into their operation it’s usually because of a row or an internal dispute. What is known is that Labor uses a platform derived from its UK cousin known as Campaign Central alongside the longstanding Electrac system. The Liberal Party uses a system named Feedback. [caption id="attachment_24324" align="alignleft" width="143"]polling-official_opt Data rules. Pic: AEC[/caption] Such is the paucity of information on electoral databases that even the ALRC – the statutory body specifically tasked with reviewing the legitimacy and efficacy of laws – had to reference a 2004 paper by academic Peter van Onselen, now the contributing editor of The Australian newspaper and a former adviser to Tony Abbott during his terms as Workplace Relations minister. In the paper, van Onselen’s assessment is scathing. “Compulsory registration to vote coupled with compulsory AEC handover of voter information to political parties is also a violation of individual voters’ privacy. Political party databases storing voter information are excluded from privacy laws which prohibit the retention of such information by private organisations other than political parties,” van Onselen wrote.
“However they are not subject to freedom of information rules either. Until this situation is remedied, political databases will continue to present a threat to key values of the Australian political system.”
And if you’re getting bombarded by unwanted texts and emails from candidates, there’s no stopping that either. Politicians conveniently wrote themselves out of the Spam Act too.   Eroding political trust If Australian electors are cynical already about the motivations of political messaging and how policy is formed, recent incidents involving both sides of politics and electoral databases won’t do much to restore confidence. In 2013, three Fairfax journalists – Royce Millar, Nick McKenzie, Ben Schneiders – made an unreserved apology to both the Australian Labor Party and the Victorian Electoral Commission for breaching laws surrounding unauthorised access to electoral data in the course on an investigation into how parties use databases. Compiled in the run-up to the Victorian state election of 2010 the story, published in The Age, revealed that Labor had “secretly recorded the personal details of tens of thousands of Victorians - including sensitive health and financial information - in a database being accessed by campaign workers ahead of this Saturday's state election.” Some of those contacted by The Age journalists expressed dismay at the kind of information being held on them without their permission and the manner in which it was collected. There are also problems in NSW. In May this year the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 7.30 Report reported that former “NSW Labor Party general secretary Jamie Clements had been charged by the New South Wales Electoral Commission for allegedly improperly accessing the state’s electorate roll.”
Labor by no means has a monopoly on controversy over electoral databases.
Federal Western Australian Liberal MP, Dennis Jensen, tipped a bucket on his party’s use of the Feedback database after being dumped as the candidate for the safe seat of Tangney after what he called a dirty tricks and smear campaign that included the release of an unpublished book that allegedly included explicit descriptions. Among the questions Mr Jensen put to the Liberal Party was whether any third parties other than his staff had access to “confidential constituent information” put into Feedback.   Ringing up the cash The Liberal’s otherwise inconspicuous Feedback database exploded onto the political stage during the 2016 federal election campaign after a flurry of accusations that the developer selling the software to members for around $2500 a year, Parakeelia, was effectively funnelling parliamentary allowances back to the Liberal Party itself. For a database so sensitive that its users are reportedly told not to discuss its operation outside the Liberal Party, the sudden spotlight of attention, accusations and questions to Cabinet ministers over sensitive funding details was yet another unwanted headache in an already toxic election campaign.
The raft of accusations and counter claims over party database funding quickly moved to the software used by Labor, which is provided by a company called Magenta Linas, founded by Bob Korbell and Andrew Navakas around 20 years ago.
Headquartered in Melbourne, Magenta Linas certainly doesn’t hide its work with the ALP, or unions on its websites and also lists a raft of other corporate and government clients. Sometimes it even leaves its dummy drafts up online.   Decade-long row While Labor leader Bill Shorten stressed that Labor did not 'own' Magenta Linas in the way Parakeelia operates for the Liberal Party, the reality is that bitter rows over the public funding of electoral database software funding have been blazing for more than a decade. So too have allegations over access controls and the potential misuse of elector information. In 2006, with the Liberals seeking to switch to the then new Feedback systems from a system known as EMS (Electoral Management System) provided by (you guessed it) Parakeelia, recriminations flew hard and fast in the Western Australian Parliament [pdf: the fun starts p10] over access to taxpayer funds to deploy software. Also in the mix was what access union members working helping out on Labor campaigns would have to elector information. Then WA Liberal Opposition Leader, Paul Omodei, took aim at Labor over why the ALP’s Electrac system could be funded by the state government but the Liberal’s new Feedback system couldn’t
“The Labor Party developed its own Electrac system and then organised for that to be funded by the state, and the Liberal Party was not given the same benefit,” Omodei roared almost a decade ago.
In 2007, John Howard's Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, had another go at Magenta Linas asking the AEC to investigate whether the Australian Council of Trade Unions getting access to Labor's electroal databases was a breach of the Electoral Act. The AEC found it wasn't. Better systems, bigger risks Ten years on, successive state and federal governments have changed while the names behind political party software have largely remained the same.
And while the power, reach, holdings and potential intrusiveness of Australia’s electoral software has increased many times over, public and regulatory scrutiny has remained static and inconsequential.
Who, if anyone, will intervene on behalf of Australian voters in the event electoral databases are hacked, or revealed to have been hacked is, is difficult to say. And there’s certainly little or no political interest in exposing that data to sunlight or the oversight of the Privacy Act. [post_title] => Political Databases: where privacy goes to die [post_excerpt] => Party time for unsupervised, unaudited records. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => political-databases-privacy-goes-die [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-06 16:46:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-06 06:46:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24321 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24258 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-27 19:28:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-27 09:28:36 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24259" align="alignnone" width="300"]CPSU Centrelink ad_opt Thankyou for waiting.Your call is... [pic: CPSU][/caption]  Centrelink’s infamous call centre queues are the latest attack front in the Federal Election Campaign after Labor announced a $1.9 billion cull of government consultants and contractors to restore staffing levels at the Department of Human Services, Medicare and the Australian Taxation Office. The loathed Public Service Efficiency Dividend, the trigger for an estimated 14,000 public sector jobs losses, could also be on the chopping block after Labor vowed to hold an immediate inquiry to find “new measures” to replace savings in the 2016-17 Budget – without cutting more jobs or increasing spending. (More on that a little further on.) Announced by Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke and Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor on Sunday, the proposed measures double down on the tactic of fuelling mistrust of the Coalition’s plans for social services – especially around outsourcing and alleged privatisation plans for Medicare. [quote]While accusations that there are plans to “privatise” Medicare have been emphatically rejected by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Labor is keeping the spotlight on troubles around the delivery of frontline services.[/quote] Public anger over long call waiting times at Centrelink, compounded by problems with the MyGov online access facility, has been boiling over for at least the last two years, with public frustration exploding in May last year after an Australian National Audit Office report found more than a quarter of calls to Centrelink just got an engaged signal. As the election campaign enters its final days, Labor has promised to take $500 million listed as savings from “public sector transformation” in the 2016-17 Budget and redirect the money “to keep Medicare in public hands.” [quote]“This funding will also go to improving service provision at the Australian Tax Office and the Department of Human Services to reduce Centrelink call waiting times and increase call centre staffing,” Labor’s statement said.[/quote] Just how much call centre improvement $500 million shared between at least three agencies will buy is questionable, even on official public service figures. “The department [Human Services] has estimated that to reduce the KPI to an average speed of answer of 5 minutes, it would need an additional 1000 staff at a cost of over $100 million each and every year,” the ANAO 2015 report into Centrelink’s call centre debacle revealed. By those numbers that’s $300 million alone gone on just one agency over three year forward estimates.   Efficiency Dividend review ... but no promises Still deeply unclear is whether Labor is proposing to scrap the Efficiency Dividend (this year sitting at 2.5 per cent) in its entirety – or lower the rate of the annual cut to more traditional levels of between 1.25 per cent and 1.5 per cent. “Labor will conduct a review, to be concluded by 1 January 2017 to investigate how to replace the 2016-17 Budget Efficiency Dividend and the 2015-16 MYEFO Efficiency Target for national cultural and collecting institutions in the 2017-18 Budget with new measures that achieve the same savings, without targeting staffing costs,” the Opposition’s latest statement said. [quote]Asked whether this meant the Efficiency Dividend would be dropped or just reduced to previous levels, Labor’s Campaign Office would not offer numbers or further clarification.[/quote] However the Community and Public Sector Union, not surprisingly, is backing Labor’s policy. “Our community has a right to expect Governments will think smart so they can spend money efficiently while providing the services we need,” said CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood. “We welcome this common sense decision from Labor, which reflects their policy reached in 2015 and will benefit all Australians. This is a big step for public services and could see regional jobs which have been ripped out of services like Centrelink and Medicare being restored.” Ms Flood said billions of dollars had been “stripped out of public services” and handed to the Coalition’s “multinational consultancy firm mates like KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.” “There’s been an incredible growth in private sector contracting, with staff frustrated at seeing plenty of waste in these megabuck contracts but only cuts to jobs and core services.” The CPSU has been an ardent opponent of the Efficiency Dividend since it was introduced by Labor under the Hawke government in 1987 because agencies typically resort to retrenchments to meet the mandate. [quote]Despite being formally affiliated to Labor, the CPSU took the extraordinary step of suspending all of the union’s election campaigning support for the second Rudd government in 2013 after the Efficiency Dividend was boosted from 1.25 per cent to 2.25 per cent.[/quote] That increase under Labor was inherited by the Abbott government and ultimately trumped plans by former Treasurer Joe Hockey to slash public service numbers by 12,000. Biparisan support for Digital Transformation With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull using the Digital Transformation Office as the main bulwark against Labor’s accusations of planned Medicare privatisation Government News asked whether Labor had a position of the continuation of the DTO if it was elected and where the agency would sit in terms of the machinery of government. “Labor is supportive of Digital Transformation Office’s key objective to get ‘government services…delivered digitally from start to finish.’ Of course we are – it’s Labor policy,” a Labor Campaign spokesperson said. “Labor announced its “Digital First” policy in the June 2013 update to the National Digital Economy Strategy. The objective of Digital First is “priority government transactions will be end-to-end digital by 2017” so that “by 2020, four out of five Australians will choose to engage with the Government through the internet or other types of online service,” the Labor spokesperson continued. [quote]“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but like the National Broadband Network, the DTO is another example of Malcolm Turnbull making big promises and failing to deliver.”[/quote] Irrespective of who wins on Saturday, the mess that is Medicare and Centrelink’s ageing transactional processing system overstretched call centres and still be there to clean up. And it won’t be cheap. [post_title] => Labor targets public service job cuts, Efficiency Dividend [post_excerpt] => Consultant crackdown to fund Medicare repair bill. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => labor-targets-public-service-job-cuts-efficiency-dividend [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-27 19:30:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-27 09:30:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24258 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26875 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-11 10:29:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 00:29:17 [post_content] =>   Election result reprieve for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Pic: YouTube.    The NSW Liberals held onto Manly and North Shore in the state by-elections, despite serious swings against it, while Paralympian basketball player Liesl Tesch won Gosford and extended Labor’s lead to become the state’s first MP in a wheelchair. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be relieved that she has made it through her first election test since former Premier Mike Baird quit in January and comforted that her party was able to hold on to what were previously considered safe seats. Ms Berejiklian would have been haunted by fears of a repeat of the Orange by-election upset last November when the Shooters and Fishers toppled the Nationals candidate but in the end she was spared the indignity. The Premier had admitted she was braced for 'huge swings' against the government but added that sometimes voted just needed to vent.   Liberal James Griffin retained Mike Baird’s old seat of Manly, albeit with a primary vote swing of 24.7 per cent swing against him, while Felicity Wilson took ex-NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s former North Shore seat, where the swing was 15.4 per cent against the government. Some pundits had been predicting that North Shore could fall to Independent Carolyn Corrigan and cause Ms Berejiklian a major embarrassment but it was never transpired. Pressure had been mounting on the Liberals in the weeks leading up to the by-elections, with Mr Griffin and Ms Wilson both mired in controversy. A company Mr Griffin co-founded was accused of trading while insolvent and Ms Wilson was caught exaggerating how long she had lived on the North on her statutory declaration and nomination form. She later slipped up on social media, claiming that she had cast her first ever vote for John Howard in Bennelong in 2001. Fairfax countered her claim by saying she lived in Marrickville at the time, in the Grayndler electorate, and could not have done so. Ms Berejiklian would have been expected a backlash against her government, at least partly made up of those disaffected by transport problems, overcrowded schools, forced council mergers, greyhound racing and NSW hospital scandals. The Premier will be preparing in earnest for the next state elections in 2019 when voters may be more eager to punish the incumbent government after eight years in office.  It was good news for Labor in the Central Coast seat of Gosford as Liesl Tesch and widened the party’s margin in what had been the state’s most precarious seat with a 14 per cent swing. Labor MP Kathy Smith, who retired due to ill health earlier this year, beat Liberal state MP Chris Holstein in the 2015 Gosford election by only 203 votes. NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said Ms Berejiklian should take responsibility for the major swings against the Liberals, which he said were more than 25 per cent in some polling booths. “In November the voters in three seats said the Government should change – it changed Premier but it didn’t change direction. Today voters in three different seats told the Government again it needs to change direction – it is time for Ms Berejiklian to start listening," Mr Foley said.  He praised Ms Tesch and said she had fought a strong campaign. “This is a great victory for the Central Coast. Liesl is a fighter. She has been a success at everything she has attempted in life and I know she will be a great representative for the people of the Central Coast when she takes up her position in the State Parliament.” [post_title] => Relief for Berejiklian in state by-elections despite serious swings [post_excerpt] => Labor keeps Gosford, increases margin. 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