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                    [post_content] => 

Shannon Gillespie

Today, everyone knows that an idea isn’t a good one until it ‘trends’. Last year, the City of Sydney’s Zero Waste marketing campaign featured the creation of an outdoor vinyl sticker campaign that made use of clever situational placement and optical illusions to highlight the problem of dumping household waste throughout the city.

Designed for city dwellers to interact with, each piece was customised to its environment to amuse and educate people about the city’s free pickup service. One of the installations was a giant stack of household waste on the side of a building that increased in size every week for three weeks. As a by-product, the hashtag #freepickup and bookafreepickup.com site shot to stardom as people snapped and shared photos of themselves with old fridges, washing machines and the like in odd, but memorable, locations such as the middle of a cycle path. The result, the City claims, was “a virtual doubling of the number of calls to the free pickup service within a week of installation”.

Imagine if we took the principles of this social marketing campaign and applied it to our engineering problems. How often do we spend megabucks on infrastructure projects, but do relatively little, if anything, to educate people about the right way to operate infrastructure or to change their behaviours when using it?

The 2000 Sydney Olympics was hailed as “the best organised Olympic Games ever” and was the epitome of how an effective marketing and communications plan can solve complex problems. With a population of four million people and an expected influx of half a million visitors to Sydney for the Olympic Games, drastic measures were required to cope with the pressure on infrastructure.

But instead of focusing on developing new transport infrastructure, a major public communications plan was executed to modify the travel behaviour of visitors and spectators. The message was simple – Olympic transport will be different but will work well. And it did! The Sydney Olympic Games achieved the first-ever 100 per cent spectator accessibility by public transport.

As engineers, our natural response is to design highly sophisticated and intelligent infrastructure that automatically adapts itself to meet the demand. We design complex and expensive control systems to control infrastructures performance and operation. The infrastructure is designed to modulate in response to the variables which, in most cases, are people.

But are we looking at society’s complex challenges through the wrong lens? The recent heatwave in South Australia put pressure on the state’s electricity network due to people turning on their air conditioning. As a consequence, 90 000 properties suffered a blackout during load shedding at the end of a 42 degrees Celsius day.

While the problem appears to have been a technical one, could we not have modified the behaviour of the people? Experts say that in order to conserve energy in a heatwave, people should not lower their air conditioning below 26 degrees Celsius – this has nothing to do with the comfort of individuals but everything to do with avoiding a catastrophic power outage. Whilst it may not be a long-term solution, an effective marketing campaign would help solve the problem in the interim.

We are living in a world where more than ever before, we need our facilities to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible  ̶  not only from an environmental perspective but also from optimising the use of capital. According to the World Economic Forum, global spending on basic infrastructure – transport, water and communications – currently totals USD 2.7 trillion a year, USD 1 trillion short of what is needed. The difference is nearly as large as South Korea’s GDP.

As pressure on our natural and economic resources increases, so too does our ability to design effective infrastructure projects. If engineers treated marketing as another tool in their toolkit, how many of our complex infrastructure problems could be solved? How many millions of dollars could be saved on new infrastructure projects simply through marketing campaigns targeted at changing user behaviour?

More and more, engineers should be telling their clients that a well-designed behavioural campaign should go hand in hand with a well-designed infrastructure project. In future, we might see Marketing Fundamentals become a standard feature of the Bachelor of Engineering curriculum.

Shannon Gillespie is with Aurecon.
                    [post_title] => Facebook and infrastructure
                    [post_excerpt] => What does Facebook have to do with infrastructure? Everything, it would seem!
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                    [post_content] =>  



The Australian Public Service Commission has released its updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants. The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, leaves absolutely no room for employees to make critical comments of any of their ministers, superiors, or departments.

Furthermore, it suggests public servants are liable to be disciplined even if they don’t promptly delete a critical post on their social media account by an outsider.

First brought to light by a critical article in The Australian newspaper, the nine-page, 3,000+ word guide goes into some detail as to what is and what is not acceptable.

Now listen up!

“As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate,” the document begins.

“But this is not an unlimited right. APS employees have particular responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 that come with being employed as a public servant by the Commonwealth of Australia. In some cases, these responsibilities limit their ability to participate fully in public discussions, including on social media.”

Criticism is a definite no-no. Whether it is the employee’s current agency, Minister, previous agency, or observations of a person, the guide is clear to begin with: “Criticising the work, or the administration, of your agency is almost always going to be seen as a breach of the Code. The closer your criticism is to your area of work, the more likely this will be.”

The guide then goes on to warn that critical posts are not allowed after hours or in a declared private capacity, or even anonymously: “Even if you don’t identify yourself you can still be identified by someone else.”

And just in case you’re wondering, your right to freedom of speech is, well, worthless: “The common law recognises an individual right to freedom of expression. This right is subject to limitations such as those imposed by the Public Service Act. In effect, the Code of Conduct operates to limit this right.”

The commissioner responds

The Australian Public Service Commissioner The Hon John Lloyd has responded to the detailed article published by The Australian newspaper, declaring it to be misrepresentative:

“The use of social media by employees requires discretion and judgement,” he writes. “For this reason it is important that all employers, including those in the APS, ensure their employees clearly understand the expectations of their behaviour when they use social media.

“The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change, but that current obligations were not well understood by employees. The CPSU encouraged its members to participate, and made a submission.

“It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity. Submissions to the review indicated that aspects of the previous guidance was unclear and ambiguous, and that revised guidance should be simpler and easy to understand.”

Straight from the Trump playbook: The Greens

Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP slammed reports in The Australian that the Turnbull government will impose restrictions on public servants criticising his government on social media.

"There must have been a few paragraphs missing from the leaked Trump/Turnbull transcript, because this latest crackdown on the public service is straight from the Trump playbook," said Mr Bandt.

"If anyone challenges Trump, they get fired. Malcolm Turnbull, in his desperation to hang onto power, is trying to do the same.

"Holding public servants responsible for what others post on their page is the stuff of the thought police. Your job shouldn't be in danger because someone shares a post on your page about marriage equality or action on climate change and you don't delete it.

"This is a ruthless assault on freedom of speech that would make any demagogue proud.”

The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, is available here.
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                    [post_excerpt] => The updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants has been released.
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                    [post_content] =>  Census2_opt

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has taken to social media to reassure people they will not be fined if they complete the Census late because they’ve lost their log-in details.

The Census Australia Facebook page has been inundated with people who have not been able to get through to the helpline or by email to request the 12-digit log-in code needed to complete the Census online or to request a paper form, after losing their log-in details.

One worried person said: “I have emailed a few days ago and have the email support number and nothing else and have also turned my house upside down searching for the letter with login.”

Another said they had spent four days emailing and calling but had not received a response.

The anxiety of the Facebook posters was evident as the queries piled up online.

“I've been emailing and calling all week with no reply or answer. I have not received my letter and wish for someone to contact me ASAP” and another “Have sent two emails as I have moved and can't access my old place hence no pin. Would really like to get an email back so I don't get fined.”

One poster was more blunt: “Census Australia your online idea is not working it won't let me log in it’s stuck on trying to get the page and left waiting on a blank page that won't change. We should now fine you $ 180 per day until you fix the problem.”

Other people were determined not to complete the Census online and insisted on a paper form because they feared computer hackers would access their personal data.

“2 weeks Census, 2 bloody weeks no-one has been able to get through on ANY of the numbers on the initial letter with our code that was sent to request the paper form to be sent out.

“So much for requiring accurate information from us if you can't answer the dam (sic) phones!
And no, I will not be using the online form, this year’s Census is riddled with enough privacy issues, let alone with the issue of online security!”

There were also some sad and sorry Census tales, including one woman having to blow dry her Census form after her dog urinated all over it and a man who claimed he had dropped his form down the toilet.

But the Bureau has remained steadfastly unruffled in the face of all the ‘a dog ate my homework’ excuses.

“You will not be fined for accurately completing and returning your census after census night,” many of its posts said.

“Don't worry, there is plenty of time to complete the Census and you won't be fined for being late. We would recommend calling back after August 10 to avoid long wait times. You could also submit a request via our online contact form.”

The online form is open until 24 September. The ABS said people would receive reminder letters and that Census field officers would visit households that hadn’t completed the Census to make sure everyone was counted.

This year’s Census – Australia’s 17th national headcount - has been mired in controversy after the ABS announced that it would keep data for up to four years and potentially cross-match it with other data sets, instead of destroying after processing, as has happened previously,

Some have taken umbrage with the fact that data linkages keys will be kept indefinitely, which could mean some information, e.g. such as birthplace or religion, could be auto-filled when completing the next survey or used to link Census data to medical, criminal and administrative records.

However, ABS Census chief Duncan Young has insisted that linkage keys are not released to a third party, that researchers would not see the keys and that the Bureau would be in charge of the linking.

Young has maintained that linkage keys, the ability to use linkage keys to link data sets and the data sets themselves are three, mutually exclusive steps and that no one person can access more than one of these steps.

The federal Minister responsible for the Census, Michael McCormack has also waded in - after earlier criticisms from the Opposition accusing him of going AWOL – and tried to soothe the public backlash against the survey.

"I think we're making far too much of this, names and addresses and privacy breaches," McCormack said.

"Anybody with a supermarket loyalty card, anybody who does tap-and-go, anybody who buys things online, they provide more information indeed probably to what is available to ABS staff."

But organisations such as the Australian Privacy Foundation have not been mollified by his response and privacy concerns have also led to a handful of senators, led by Nick Xenophon, refusing to put their names on Census forms and risking a fine of up to $180 per day.

Census Australia’s Facebook page justified the Bureau’s requirement for people to add their names saying it resulted in better data quality and helped households record the relevant information for each person.

“Having names on the form also helps the ABS to identify if any people were missed during the Census, or accidently counted twice,” said the online response.

“It can also assist in improving the quality of data we produce on families, especially where complex relationships, like blended families, exist. International studies have demonstrated that an anonymous Census results in poor quality data.”
                    [post_title] => Best of 2016: ABS moves to quell Census panic on social media
                    [post_excerpt] => Lost log-ins melt hotline.
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                    [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] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24321 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24024 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-01 16:40:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-01 06:40:21 [post_content] =>

[By Dr Jacqueline Horan, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne]

Detective jurors have become a global phenomenon as courts around the world struggle to control their online behaviour.

Earlier this year, judges of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously rejected a complaint brought by a UK juror, convicted of contempt of court, after using the internet to research a defendant’s criminal past. Another UK juror in 2011 was sentenced to eight months in jail for using the internet to research and contact one of the defendants.

Whilst an Australian juror has yet to be jailed, jurors have been exposed for looking up a defendant on Facebook and viewing maps of a crime scene. Yet again, this month, a Victorian juror was caught looking up the phrase ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ on the internet.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Jury trial processes have hardly changed in 100 years, but the jurors have. Source: Wikimedia Jury trial processes have hardly changed in 100 years, but the jurors have. Source: Wikimedia[/caption]

It is fundamental to our notions of a fair trial that jurors make their decision on the evidence provided to them during the trial. Traditionally, judges tell the jurors at the beginning of the trial that it is forbidden for them to do their own research about the trial but they can ask the judge questions.

Increased incidents of jurors being caught doing their own research and findings of juror studies indicate that jurors are not getting this message. A UK study of 239 jurors in 2012 found that almost a quarter of the jurors are unclear about the rules surrounding internet use during a trial. Five per cent believed there is no restriction at all on their use of the internet during a trial.

One hundred years ago, an average juror could not read nor write so it made sense that trial instructions were delivered orally. The problem is that jury trial processes have hardly changed in 100 years but the jurors have.

The average juror in Australia today is in their forties and highly educated. These jurors have been encouraged to take control of information since the day they started school. If they have a question they Google it or ask a Facebook friend.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="431"]Tech savvy defendants are using the internet to their own advantage. Tech savvy defendants are using the internet to their own advantage.[/caption]

Jury trial is an unnatural decision-making process for these digital native jurors. They are forced to be passive listeners in the courtroom and they do not like it. In a 2012 Australian study, over 90 per cent of 296 jurors surveyed didn’t ask questions, but a quarter of them wanted to. Of those, 30 per cent explained that they felt uncomfortable asking questions and 70 per cent of the jurors said that they did not know jurors could ask questions This is another indicator that the initial oral instructions from the judge are not being absorbed by jurors.

The last 16 years has highlighted that attempts to wall off jurors from the rest of the world are not working. It won’t be long before we learn that a tech-savvy defendant has planted information for the jury to find on the internet. This is already happening in high profile US trials.

By the time of Martha Stewart’s insider trading trial commenced, 6 million visitors had visited her website where she had published over 80,000 emails of support. Michael Jackson’s doctor used a YouTube video to explain himself before his trial.

Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, thanks supporters prior to his trial into the death of the pop superstar.

Whilst there is no one solution to the detective juror problem, we need to be more innovative in our approach because digital native jurors are only growing in number. A few judges have successfully relaxed their handling of detective jurors. In the largest terrorism trial in Victoria, the judge rejected two applications to discharge the jury on the basis of the jury having conducted their own research.

Despite being explicitly told not to use the internet three times, Wikipedia-type internet printouts were found in the jury room rubbish bin. The judge held that there was nothing overtly prejudicial in the printouts. He then addressed the jury to confirm that they could still determine the case impartially. Again, during deliberations, it was revealed that the jury had been using a dictionary to look up the meaning of a key word used in the charge. The trial judge and the Court of Appeal held that while the use of the dictionary may have been inappropriate it had not compromised the trial.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="390"]Juror questions must be redirected away from their digital devices and into the courtroom. Juror questions must be redirected away from their digital devices and into the courtroom.[/caption]

Such trials suggest that jurors are not going to stop making enquiries, so we need to offer jurors a viable alternative to Google. Juror questions need to be redirected away from their digital devices and into the court room. Few judges actively encourage juror questions, primarily because it is contrary to the traditions of the adversarial process.

It is a fundamental right of the parties in an adversarial system to run their case as they see fit without interference from the decision makers. However, this is no longer tenable in a digital age.

There is concern that juror questions could be inappropriate and time-wasting. But trial judges are highly capable of managing this process. Studies of juror questions in the US highlight that when jurors ask questions they are almost always appropriate.

The 2012 Australian jury study discussed above suggests that we need to do more to make jurors feel more comfortable in the courtroom if we are going to be successful in rechannelling juror questions away from the internet and into the courtroom.

Victoria’s Jury Directions Advisory Group has recognised the difficulties jurors have in absorbing a vast amount of important instructions at the beginning of the trial. Next July, a pilot program will begin. Jurors participating in the program will each be given written jury directions which will complement the judge’s initial jury instructions.

Hopefully, rather than reaching for their digital device, the jurors will reach for the written directions and be encouraged to ask the judge their questions.

Featured academic

Jacqueline Horan, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne is a jury researcher. She holds the position of Senior Lecturer and is a member of the Victorian Bar (academic). Jacqueline has co-ordinated the Advocacy course for the law school for over a decade. She has taught advocacy to practitioners and experts as part of their continuing education at the Australian Advocacy Institute, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the National Institute of Forensic Science and the Victorian Bar Readers Course.
[This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article.] [post_title] => Judge, jury and Google: courts in the digital age [post_excerpt] => Courts in the digital age. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => digitally-connected-jurors-are-creating-challenges-for-courtrooms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-01 16:40:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-01 06:40:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24024 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23916 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-05-20 14:32:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-20 04:32:23 [post_content] => ap-facebook-dislike-kb-141212-16x9-992-jpg   NSW residents have swarmed onto the Facebook sites of newly merged councils to vent their frustration after being denied the opportunity to oppose mass council sackings and council mergers. Some of the state’s 19 new councils have already created new Facebook pages, despite only coming into being on Monday this week. Harmonised websites are a work in progress, presumably because there is more work involved but also because many transactions with councils, like paying rates and charges, go through them. The Facebook page of the new Inner West Council – a mix of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils in Sydney’s Inner West – has become a focal point for disenfranchised residents and already caused problems for Administrator Richard Pearson, a former Deputy Director General of Planning NSW. Many residents were in no mood to join in with the upbeat Facebook posts from the new council. In reply to one of the council’s first posts, which asked: “notice anything different?” one resident replied:  “Yes, we noticed the blatant disregard for democratically elected officials”, while another commented: “So weird, I have absolutely no memory of voting to elect this council.” Today (Friday) the Greens accused ‘the administration’ of the new Inner West Council of expunging criticisms about the deeply unpopular WestConnex project from its Facebook page, following tip-offs at a public meeting on WestConnex in Balmain. IWC_optGreens MP David Shoebridge said: "These three councils have been a thorn in the side of Baird's plans to bulldoze WestConnex through the inner west, so it's little wonder he wanted to censor them. “All three former Inner West Councils have had strong opposition to the WestConnex project, that is championed by Planning NSW, and it is clear that this history of opposition to the unpopular WestConnex is now being silenced and erased.” “Going back in time and removing posts that are critical of the Baird government has a terrible Orwellian feel to it. Political censorship should have no place in 21st century Australia. "These Councils have been under Premier Baird’s new administration for less than a week and we are already seeing efforts to silence and erase local opposition to WestConnex." But it appears that the real explanation may be a little less scandalous and that idiosyncrasies of Facebook – and not dubious intervention from Mr Pearson or council staff – are to blame. The Inner West Council posted a statement on its Facebook page earlier today which said it had been notified that some posts about WestConnex had been removed. “Council officers did not remove these posts, and were not directed to do so by new Administrator Richard Pearson. “On investigation it was discovered that Facebook routinely ‘hides’ posts from timelines after a certain period of time.” The council said that many other posts from February were also no longer visible including posts about free events, ANZAC Day commemorations and a neighbourhood garage sale. “Council is not aware of when this happened – whether recently or months ago. It is very easy to unhide posts on a Facebook profile, but harder to unhide posts on a page. Council officers have contacted Facebook to find out how to reinstate the posts.” The negative WestConnex posts have now returned, with several going up in the last few hours. Greens Member for Newtown and WestConnex spokesperson Jenny Leong said Mr Pearson should uphold the three former councils' previous position on WestConnex and vocally oppose the development. "When I met with the new Administrator yesterday he said that the position of the Inner West Council in relation to WestConnex was yet to be determined,” Ms Leong said. “This is despite the fact that I made it very clear that the three former councils that make up the new council had a unanimous position opposing WestConnex.” [post_title] => Facebook stoush erupts over new Inner West Council [post_excerpt] => When social media turns sour. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23916 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-24 10:02:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-24 00:02:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23916 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23308 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-03-09 12:45:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-09 01:45:50 [post_content] => Better Bendigo Bendigo Council is using bad eighties hairstyles and social media to fight racism and promote tolerance. The Victorian council has grappled with anti-Muslim sentiment since it approved the city’s first mosque and cultural centre in August last year. A month later, a group of protestors disrupted a Bendigo Council meeting during a discussion about the mosque and began chanting, swearing and shouting. Councillors ended up being escorted by police from the meeting. In October, anti-Muslim rallies occurred in the city, although the council said at the time it suspected the rallies were hijacked by demonstrators from elsewhere in Victoria or interstate and involved few Bendigo locals. The backlash against the new mosque has made the city a flashpoint for anti-Muslim protestors on wider issues too, such as immigration and the certification of halal food, but Bendigo Council is tackling this using a humourous social media campaign ‘For a Better Bendigo’ on Facebook and Instagram. The campaign’s Facebook page bears the strapline: “Some things should be left in the past: 80s mullets, man perms, racism and intolerance” and it is accompanied by a photograph of three men, all with lavishly large hairstyles, downing beers in the pub. The campaign, which local young people helped design, encourages residents to think about the city’s future and the legacy they would like to leave behind. Bendigo Mayor Rod Fyffe said councils should engage their communities in discussions about multiculturalism. “The city is excited to lead a campaign like this and harness the community spirit we know and are proud of – an inclusive and welcoming one," Mr Fyffe said. “Council’s vision is about all of us working together to make Bendigo the most liveable regional city in Australia. Certainly as we see it, there’s no place for intolerance in our future.” The council's anti-racist Facebook page is in contrast to some of the other Facebook groups that have sprung up, including Stop the Mosque in Bendigo, which has 22,400 followers. Mr Fyffe said that Bendigo had “a rich multicultural history” with 13 per cent of the city’s population born overseas and international tourism brought in $12 million to the local economy a year. The campaign was launched today (Wednesday) and included some of Strathfieldsaye Football Netball Club’s senior football team players. Co-coach Darryl Wilson said multiculturalism was a cause that firmly resonated with the club. “We pride ourselves on supporting our community and our local people, and multiculturalism is something we’re always very happy to get behind,” Mr Wilson said. The campaign was funded with support from the Victorian state government and photos and stories will be shared on social media until the end of April. [post_title] => Man perms and mullets front Bendigo anti-racist social media campaign [post_excerpt] => Bendigo Council battles islamophobia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23308 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-15 10:15:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-14 23:15:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23308 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21439 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-09-18 09:50:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-17 23:50:16 [post_content] => Brandis5 A Facebook and Twitter campaign by the arts community that aims to depose federal Arts Minister George Brandis and undo his plans for a National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) is gathering momentum. In the May budget, Mr Brandis redirected $105 million of Australia Council funding into the newly established NPEA, to be administered directly by the Ministry for the Arts. Under the revised grant program, grants would be offered to organisations - not individual artists - with more money flowing to the large performing arts companies, such as Opera Australia and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and away from small to medium-sized arts organisations. Under the new model there would be fewer funding rounds and less money available. Orchestrated by Australians for Artistic Freedom under the hashtag #freethearts, the social media campaign has issued a plea to newly-minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to sack Mr Brandis and hand back funding to the Australia Council. The post said: “Hey everyone. We need as many people as we can to write to Malcolm Turnbull today and call on him to ditch George Brandis and the NPEA and send the money back to the Australia Council. "Maybe he [Turnbull] would like to take on being Arts Minister? “This is our chance to get this thing fixed right now so spread the word and gets lots of people onto[it] as soon as you can.” The Arts Minister has been widely criticised by the arts community for his abrupt funding decision, with many accusing him of compromising the Council’s deep knowledge of the arts and its independence when making funding decisions. Some have also attacked the minister for attempting to fund pet projects to the detriment of the smaller arts companies, arguing that these have been the springboards for major industry players in the past; including theatre and film director Neil Armfield, who started out at Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre Company, or Circus Oz stage director Debra Batton, who began her career at Legs on the Wall. But the campaign's chances of success appear slim. Mr Brandis publicly declared his support for Mr Turnbull before Monday night's vote and #freethearts will not be a lone voice of appeal. Mr Turnbull has already been bombarded with requests to undo some of Tony Abbott’s work since he replaced him as Prime Minister earlier this week, with calls on him to reverse cuts to international aid, parental leave, family payments and the Medicare safety net, among a host of other pleas. The appointment of Mr Brandis as Arts Minister has already spawned an explosion of social media activity, including Twitter account #Theartofbrandis, which positions Mr Brandis in a range of satirical poses with comedic headlines. Brandis6 There is a senate inquiry currently underway into arts funding, which is due to report on 26 November. The inquiry will examine the potential impact of Mr Brandis’ funding decision on individual artists, emerging artists, small to medium arts organisations, private sector philanthropy and the Australia Council, among other bodies. It will also look at the NPEA’s funding criteria and processes.   [post_title] => Social media campaign aims to topple Arts Minister George Brandis [post_excerpt] => #Freethearts wants Turnbull to hand back Australia Council funding. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => social-media-campaign-aims-to-topple-arts-minister-george-brandis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-18 10:24:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-18 00:24:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21439 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21236 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-09-02 11:43:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-02 01:43:10 [post_content] => NHS Scotland A Facebook advertisement aimed at Scottish-trained doctors who have left the motherland to work in countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada is trying to lure GPs back to bonny Scotland. The Facebook ad, which features a ferry sailing between the Scottish mainland and the bucolic islands on Scotland's west coast, targets doctors aged 34 to 55 who have left Scotland to work overseas. The ad pops up on the timelines of those Facebook users who have indicated that they have studied at a Scottish university, although they needn't have completed a medical degree for it to appear. The National Health Service (NHS) Education for Scotland-produced recruitment ad says: “Are you missing Scotland? Are you contemplating returning? Now is a good time – coming back to General Practice in Scotland couldn’t be easier!" The social media recruitment drive makes no bones about it – don’t expect blazing sun but at least you won’t be languishing at the end of the earth any more: “Scotland needs its trained GPs back … why not come back to enjoy our four seasons of weather (sometimes in one day), our diversity of culture and proximity to the rest of the world? Scotland is more than ever a wonderful place to live and work. “No entry assessments, no additional costs when you can least afford it and no lengthy waits to get back into a substantive post,” it says. “Your application will be considered by the Health Board Medical Director who will decide whether it would be appropriate to include you immediately on the Performers’ List provided you complete a short practice-based induction or whether you will be required to successfully complete the Scotland GP Returner Programme.” The Scottish Government recently committed £7.6 million to the country’s GP system, which included a 1 per cent pay rise for its GPs in 2015/2016 and £4.6 million towards the costs of running practices. The Scottish Government will also kick in £2.2 million to fund the cost of population growth in 2014/2015. As an incentive the ad promises to make the process painless and cheap adding that applicants may only need “a simple, two to four week induction programme”. The NHS is no stranger to poaching its doctors back from the Commonwealth. At the end of 2014 NHS England’s Shropshire and Staffordshire area team and Health Education Midlands placed recruitment ads in two Australian medical magazines – Australian Doctor and the Medical Observer. The ads urged GPs to come back to the UK and promised a “fully-funded induction and returner scheme”. They were reportedly some of the most successful ads ever placed in Australian Doctor. The shortage of GPs in Scotland is reported to have reached crisis point, with many GP vacancies and sessional GP vacancies (doctors covering sick leave or holidays) left unfilled, particularly in more remote and rural areas of the country. In many cases Health Boards have been asked to step in and take over some practices because so many doctors have left or retired and they are collapsing under the patient workload. The NHS must view with alarm recent statistics from the UK’s General Medical Council which show that an average of 2,852 certificates enabling British doctors to work abroad were issued annually between 2008 and 2014, a total of 19,522 certificates. The UK’s Daily Express newspaper reported that the average salary of a Scottish family doctor is currently £89,300, but more than half of GPs already earn in excess of £100,000. It is difficult to compare this with the average earnings of Australian GPs as they work under a different system where they bill, rather than draw a salary. Government News has approached the Royal Australian College of GPs for further information. [post_title] => NHS Scotland uses Facebook to lure its GPs back from Australia and NZ [post_excerpt] => Crap weather but at least you’re near the rest of the world. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nhs-scotland-uses-facebook-to-lure-its-gps-back-from-australia-and-nz [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-04 09:41:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-03 23:41:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21236 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20574 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-07-13 16:38:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-13 06:38:41 [post_content] => _IGP0568   The Australian Capital Territory Government has appointed the national capital’s first ever Chief Digital Officer, as Australia’s only equivalent to a city-state pushes hard to rebrand itself as a thriving tech savvy metropolis that delivers world-class services to both residents and businesses looking to move there. The ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr has named Kiwi tech evangelist Jon Cummings as the Territory’s first CDO, a move he says will “lead the whole of government digital strategic direction to ensure that our ACT Public Service is digitally innovative, dynamic and capable in its service to the community.” Mr Cummings has been spearheading the New Zealand government’s substantial digitisation efforts. His hiring is notable because it is the first time a state level Chief Digital Officer has been appointed in Australia, a move that could be emulated by other governments. So far significant CDO appointments have largely been spearheaded by state capital city local governments, namely Brisbane that set the pace with the appointment of Kieran O’Hea who added substantial economic development nous to the position in addition to tech savvy. Mr O’Hea’s appointment in Brisbane in 2012 (a role which he has since stepped down from in 2014) has become regarded as somewhat of a catalyst for capital cities looking to weave the benefits of the online and digital economies into their citizen services and economies. Both Sydney and Melbourne have commenced hunts for their Chief Digital Officers while the Federal government recently named UK government change agent Paul Shetler to head Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s high profile Digital Transformation Office. According to the ACT government, its new CDO will help deliver of the key priorities of strengthening its digital economy, the creation of capacity, collaboration and workforce participation and the enhancement of Canberra “as a truly Smart City with the roll out of CBRfree Wi-Fi network”. For Mr Cummings’ part, he says he’s excited to be taking on the role as the ACT’s first CDO. “The ACT Government is already creating a leading digital city that is proactively embracing technology as a way to improve the lives of its citizens. I am looking forward to the opportunity to bring my experience to Canberra, to help shape and deliver on the key priorities of the ACT Digital Strategy,” Mr Cumming said. “The digital revolution can make people’s lives better. My role as CDO is to facilitate the community’s digital knowledge, to take them on a journey and change mindsets about the infinite possibilities, wonderment and experiences that a truly connected city and world offers.” The appointment of a candidate from overseas might also play out to be a canny move for the government in charge of Canberra given some of the top level tech talent the city has been donating to other states. The previous technology head of the ACT Shared Services (and effectively the government’s chief information officer), Michael Vanderheide was quickly snapped up by the Victorian government to put its IT house in order after demonstrating conspicuous competence in Canberra. The City of Melbourne also managed to attract Ben Rimmer -- the high profile federal Department of Human Services deputy secretary who was in charge of the substantial myGov cross-agency digital identity project -- to become its chief executive. [post_title] => Canberra gets its first Chief Digital Officer [post_excerpt] => National Capital looks to New Zealand for innovation talent. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => canberra-gets-its-first-chief-digital-officer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-14 11:15:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-14 01:15:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20574 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20532 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-07-09 20:15:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-09 10:15:08 [post_content] => Abbott cyber summit BCA When the Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott musters the nation’s very top business leaders to an urgent round table summit on tackling cyber security, it’s usually a fair bet that some sort of statement, action plan or communique will emerge to show progress. Or maybe not. After a meeting that is understood to have included Business Council of Australia head Jennifer Westacott, Australian Securities Exchange chief executive Elmer Funke Kupper, Telstra’s chairwoman Catherine Livingstone and Commonwealth Bank chief information officer David Whiteing (to name a few) it now appears the government is, for the time being,  leaving it to the business community to spell out the national game plan on its plans to tackle Team Australia’s online enemies. Held on Wednesday in Sydney and -- according to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) -- hosted by the BCA, what had been anticipated to be a major update on the progress of the top level cyber security review now appears to be staying behind closed doors for the time being. According to PM&C, the latest event focussed on “the importance of leadership" and how “cyber security is an issue for executives and Boards, not just an IT issue for technical experts”. “The Summit also discussed some of the ideas for practical improvement to Australia’s cyber security. This included the Government and businesses working together to improve cyber threat sharing, address Australia’s cyber security skills shortages and increase opportunities for Australia’s businesses online, including growing Australia’s cyber security industry,” PM&C said, rather conspicuously lacking a direct quote from Mr Abbott. The big question that many in business and government are now asking is whether the report from the Cyber Security Review announced in November 2014 by Mr Abbott is running significantly late, given it was slated to take just six months. Mandated to “explore how industry and the government can work together to make our online systems more resilient against attacks” the key document is being assisted by an expert panel that includes the BCA’s Ms Westacott, John Stewart Cisco Systems’ Chief Security and Trust Officer in the United States, Telstra’s Chief Information Security Officer Mike Burgess, and Dr Tobias Feakin, the Director of the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Heading the review is the former director of the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Sir Iain Lobban KCMG CB. One issue that surfaced almost immediately after the Cyber Security Review’s announcement was that many in the technology industry and some in parts of government held private concerns that the latest probe initially appeared to focus largely on physical network dynamics rather than vulnerabilities in software and applications where many successful attacks find an entry point. Also adding complexity is the rise of highly effective online recruitment techniques by terrorist organisations including ISIS that are being used successfully not just to attract foreign fighters from Australia to go overseas, but to radicalise and motivate onshore sympathisers to commit violent acts and atrocities here. The successful exploitation of online channels and social media by groups like ISIS is has required substantial extra technology resources for security agencies authorities try to keep tabs on both the levels of influence of radicalised groups while keeping tabs on their activities overseas. The 2015 Budget allocated $131 million to reimburse the telecommunications industry for metadata retention, a figure many in industry believe is only around half of what is needed. That money was bookended by $22 million to counter extremist propaganda and online recruitment. Not all parts of the business community are impressed by funding levels industry support for national security related cyber initiatives, especially the telecommunications sector which has warned extensively of the cost burdens associated with the retention of customer metadata. Meanwhile, Australia’s biggest companies have become increasingly vocal about the need for a cohesive and effective national cyber strategy. “Australia’s national cyber security strategy has not been updated since 2009, in an environment characterised by increased cyber threats and more sophisticated cyber-adversaries,” the CBA warned in its submission to the Financial Systems Inquiry in March 2014. The same document recommended “an update of Australia’s cyber security strategy” and “reviewing the scope, breadth and distribution of Australian cyber security investment in the context of the critical role it plays in the Australian digital economy.” The CBA has also called on the government to “formalise roles, responsibilities and protocols in the event of a cyber-crisis,” saying that “private sector owners of critical infrastructure will be responsible for defending their own systems in the first instance, until an attack exceeds the pre-defined levels or norms.” As the wait for the government’s new Cyber Security Review drags on, the CBA on Wednesday lauded the personal attendance of Mr Abbott at the Cyber Summit and its collaborative approach with business. But the bank also made it clear there is an urgent need for real progress to be made. “The Prime Minister’s attention to this issue highlights its national importance and we welcome the commitment to strengthening the partnership between Government and the private sector on cyber security,” CBA Group Executive of Enterprise Services and Chief Information Officer David Whiteing said. “The summit addressed a number of important themes including improved sharing of information between public and private sector to improve cyber defences, increasing the number of cyber security professionals, and realising the economic opportunity presented by cyber security innovation. “As more and more business is transacted online, cyber security will continue to be an issue of fundamental national importance. We look forward to continued progress and discussion on this vital issue across business, government, academia, and the broader population,” Mr Whiteing said.   [post_title] => Where is Tony Abbott's Cyber Security Review? [post_excerpt] => Questions after business leaders summit. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => where-is-tony-abbotts-cyber-security-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-09 23:41:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-09 13:41:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20532 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20077 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-06-15 13:16:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-06-15 03:16:35 [post_content] => SAVE OUR COUNCILS final A coalition of councillors, residents, mayors, community groups and businesses owners from parties across the political spectrum- except the Coalition – has put its foot on the accelerator to oppose the NSW government’s mega council reform agenda. The Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC) – officially launched last week but the group appears to have been working  away behind the scenes for several months – aims to ramp up the pressure on NSW Premier Mike Baird through social media and public protests in an attempt to highlight the widespread disaffection in council chambers across the state to the idea of forced council amalgamations. The heat is on, with NSW councils' Fit for the Future applications due in by June 30, where councils must demonstrate scale and capacity, sustainability and efficiency, and there has been a rash of Facebook groups opposing forced mergers in response including:  Save Randwick from Amalgamation, Save Our Strathfield and Pittwater Forever. SOCC protested outside state parliament last week, featuring a rousing call to battle by Woollhara Deputy Mayor Greg Levenston. “Woollhara at this moment is fortress Woollhara,” Mr Levenston said. “If they want to amalgamate us they’ve got to take down and bash down the walls. We are not moving. “The eastern suburb councils are in disarray. There are some mixed and strange mergers being sorted out but we are here to stand alone. We are not going to be amalgamated.” Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said an overwhelming number of NSW residents were “deeply opposed” to the idea of councils merging and that there was no “rational case to supersize NSW councils.” “Forced amalgamations are so unpopular, so anti-democratic, that everyone from the Christian Democrats to Labor to the Shooters and the Greens are standing together to oppose them in Parliament,” Mr Shoebridge said. “Residents want to retain the local character and identity of their neighbourhoods, not see that lost in a one-size-fits-all mega-council. “Larger councils mean less representation and advocacy, less of a voice on planning proposals, less access to your local government, and poorer services,” he said. “There’s never been a cogent case for forced amalgamations. If the residents want it, there is provision for them to apply to merge." Mr Shoebridge said that the average NSW council had just over 50,000 residents – almost  double the OECD average of 27,224. In Sydney the average was 104,000 residents and almost four times the OECD average. Councils had feared that IPART was going to set a minimum population target of around 250,000 residents as a marker for merging but these fears never exactly materialised. However, IPART has said: "We will be guided by the population estimates for a particular local government area included in the Independent Local Government Review Panel's recommended options". The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), which the NSW government has tasked with assessing the applications, only released the final assessment criteria recently. IPART will hand down its recommendations on whether councils should merge with their neighbours or go it alone by mid-October, a timeframe which the Local Government NSW has strongly criticised. Further evidence of the rumblings of rebellion amongst ratepayers and councils is the current NSW Upper House inquiry into the way the process has been managed and how the criteria for 'fit' councils has been decided. The inquiry is taking submissions until July 5 and is due to report by mid-August. A measure of the level of resentment stirred up by the prospect of forced council mergers is that there will be five public hearings during the inquiry in July and August. It is unclear whether legislation would be the route taken to push councils who fail the Fit for the Future test and who are unwilling to merge to amalgamate with their neighbours. However, it looks likely since the alternative would be to put every change in front of the Boundaries Commission and spark a spate of public hearings. Of course, the danger faced by Premier Mike Baird in taking the legislative option is the obstinence of balance-of-power holders like Christian Democrats Upper House MP Fred Nile, an opponent of forced council mergers. [post_title] => Coalition of the unwilling fights NSW council forced mergers [post_excerpt] => Save Our Councils Coalition makes a noise. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => coalition-of-the-unwilling-fights-nsw-council-forced-mergers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-06-18 22:30:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-06-18 12:30:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20077 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19295 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-04-23 23:14:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-23 13:14:23 [post_content] => PICT4244   When tragic natural hit Australia’s regions and cities there's often a tragic toll in lives lost, but it’s no secret that those in or avoiding harm’s way flock online and onto social media to find out -- or post first hand -- what’s going on around them. For emergency services, authorities and support services tasked with helping to manage and minimise a crisis, it’s now the fastest way of rapidly circulating information to those who need it most, all while the rest of the world watching on. But even though a real time social and online management plan is now largely an established response, it’s still easy to forget that managing a huge spike in cyber traffic directed at government online services under abnormal or crisis conditions isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ -- these days it’s an essential skill that tangibly saves lives and minimises social and economic disruption. There’s not only a lot of skill that goes into that but also sheer back-end grunt. Uptime is everything; downtime can be deadly. Four days of violent and torrid weather ultimately claimed the lives of eight people in NSW this week. What's much more difficult to determine is whether the number of fatalities and the degree of uncontrolled disruption would have been much higher if people had not heeded messages quickly delivered through digital channels to smartphones. On Thursday New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance opened a window onto the level of online demand put on the government by releasing some notable statistics, but respectfully avoided any hint government self-congratulation. Instead he thanked the public for generating record amounts of traffic online -- and not on the state’s roads and public transport services which were unavoidably disrupted by everything from monster waves to flooded railway stations and bus lanes. “I thank public transport customers and road users for their patience with network interruptions,” Mr Constance said. “The challenge facing transport and road operators was greatly assisted by customers avoiding unnecessary travel and timing their essential journeys to take pressure off traditional peak periods.” Part of that battle was helped by NSW Premier Mike Baird firmly instructing employers to let staff go home early to minimise overall disruption at a time when essential services were already straining. The fact that sunset downpours were likely coincide with peak demand on the transport network was clearly not lost. Some of the statistics from Transport and Mr Constance’s office are illuminating: •    TransportNSW.info had 250,000 users who turned to the site for help over a 48 hour period – nearly double the normal number of visitors. •    The Live Traffic NSW website and mobile apps had more than 482,000 visitors, about 20 times greater than usual. On Facebook: •    2.2 million people saw or shared information about the storm on a new Facebook page for public transport. •    600,000 people saw or shared updates about flooded roads on our Live Traffic NSW Facebook page.  http://www.facebook.com/livetrafficnsw •    The Live Traffic NSW Facebook page shared more than 40 updates for drivers during the storm. On Twitter: •    Tweets across Twitter handles for disruption information were seen millions of times thanks to more than 4,500 retweets in 48 hours. •    Tweets yesterday during the flooding at Bardwell Park from the @T2SydneyTrains Twitter handle were seen about 174,000 times. •    Tweets on the day of the track damage at Dungog from the @TrainLinkNorth Twitter handle were seen about 375,000 times. [post_title] => Disaster Online: NSW storm traffic surges but no flash crash [post_excerpt] => Tweets keep people off trains, roads and safe [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => disaster-online-nsw-storm-traffic-surges-but-no-flash-crash [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-04-24 00:17:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-23 14:17:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19295 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18021 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-02-10 10:58:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-02-09 23:58:56 [post_content] => AK-47 Assault Rifle Federal Attorney General George Brandis has moved to bolster the government’s response to the proliferation of online propaganda posted by extremist groups. The Attorney General on Monday officially launched a new public reporting tool intended to allow everyday people to tip authorities off about the presence of “illegal or offensive extremist material they find online.” Dubbed the “Report Online Extremism” tool, the new tip-off site forms part of the government’s wider response to counter online terror recruitment under the existing ‘Living Safe Together’ website. Online radicalisation techniques by groups including ISIS and ISIL has become a major concern for security agencies around the world because of their increasing sophistication, improved technical production values and lower costs of creation. A big problem for security authorities and the military trying to counter ISIL and ISIS is that although the videos now routinely feature nauseating footage of highly staged brutality the propagandist equivalent of snuff videos still to generate substantial traffic and sensation on the internet, with the burning of a caged Jordanian pilot the most recent example. Now the AG’s Department says that extremist material and illegal content it finds or is pointed towards online “will be assessed by authorities who will take action, such as taking down sites if hosted in Australia or prosecuting people if crimes have been committed.” “If the reported material is hosted on an international site, it may be sent to international partners and Interpol, or raised directly with service providers such as Facebook and YouTube,” the Attorney General’s statement said. Online providers have recently felt official heat over how they monitor and remove extremist content, an international law issue that has been simmering in the US for years. A key problem has been the difficulty everyday people have had in getting multinational online providers and social media giants to take notice of complaints. The launch of the new public reporting tool is likely to accelerate the processing of complaints because it will provide a kind of content clearing house for authorities to assess and then expedite to providers. Senator Brandis’ office said the new facility complemented an existing $545 million in funding already allocated over four years to boost “social cohesion, education and employment initiatives.” “The tool is part of the Government’s Countering Violent Extremism targeted intervention programme. This programme identifies radicalised and at risk people and delivers a range of tailored services such as mentoring, counselling, education and employment services, that will help them turn away from ideologies of violence and hate,” the Attorney Generals’ office said. [post_title] => Brandis launches online terror tip-off service [post_excerpt] => Public recruited into countering extremist propaganda [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brandis-launches-online-terror-tip-off-service [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-02-10 12:01:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-02-10 01:01:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=18021 [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] => 27939 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-31 15:12:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-31 05:12:30 [post_content] => Shannon Gillespie Today, everyone knows that an idea isn’t a good one until it ‘trends’. Last year, the City of Sydney’s Zero Waste marketing campaign featured the creation of an outdoor vinyl sticker campaign that made use of clever situational placement and optical illusions to highlight the problem of dumping household waste throughout the city. Designed for city dwellers to interact with, each piece was customised to its environment to amuse and educate people about the city’s free pickup service. One of the installations was a giant stack of household waste on the side of a building that increased in size every week for three weeks. As a by-product, the hashtag #freepickup and bookafreepickup.com site shot to stardom as people snapped and shared photos of themselves with old fridges, washing machines and the like in odd, but memorable, locations such as the middle of a cycle path. The result, the City claims, was “a virtual doubling of the number of calls to the free pickup service within a week of installation”. Imagine if we took the principles of this social marketing campaign and applied it to our engineering problems. How often do we spend megabucks on infrastructure projects, but do relatively little, if anything, to educate people about the right way to operate infrastructure or to change their behaviours when using it? The 2000 Sydney Olympics was hailed as “the best organised Olympic Games ever” and was the epitome of how an effective marketing and communications plan can solve complex problems. With a population of four million people and an expected influx of half a million visitors to Sydney for the Olympic Games, drastic measures were required to cope with the pressure on infrastructure. But instead of focusing on developing new transport infrastructure, a major public communications plan was executed to modify the travel behaviour of visitors and spectators. The message was simple – Olympic transport will be different but will work well. And it did! The Sydney Olympic Games achieved the first-ever 100 per cent spectator accessibility by public transport. As engineers, our natural response is to design highly sophisticated and intelligent infrastructure that automatically adapts itself to meet the demand. We design complex and expensive control systems to control infrastructures performance and operation. The infrastructure is designed to modulate in response to the variables which, in most cases, are people. But are we looking at society’s complex challenges through the wrong lens? The recent heatwave in South Australia put pressure on the state’s electricity network due to people turning on their air conditioning. As a consequence, 90 000 properties suffered a blackout during load shedding at the end of a 42 degrees Celsius day. While the problem appears to have been a technical one, could we not have modified the behaviour of the people? Experts say that in order to conserve energy in a heatwave, people should not lower their air conditioning below 26 degrees Celsius – this has nothing to do with the comfort of individuals but everything to do with avoiding a catastrophic power outage. Whilst it may not be a long-term solution, an effective marketing campaign would help solve the problem in the interim. We are living in a world where more than ever before, we need our facilities to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible  ̶  not only from an environmental perspective but also from optimising the use of capital. According to the World Economic Forum, global spending on basic infrastructure – transport, water and communications – currently totals USD 2.7 trillion a year, USD 1 trillion short of what is needed. The difference is nearly as large as South Korea’s GDP. As pressure on our natural and economic resources increases, so too does our ability to design effective infrastructure projects. If engineers treated marketing as another tool in their toolkit, how many of our complex infrastructure problems could be solved? How many millions of dollars could be saved on new infrastructure projects simply through marketing campaigns targeted at changing user behaviour? More and more, engineers should be telling their clients that a well-designed behavioural campaign should go hand in hand with a well-designed infrastructure project. In future, we might see Marketing Fundamentals become a standard feature of the Bachelor of Engineering curriculum. Shannon Gillespie is with Aurecon. [post_title] => Facebook and infrastructure [post_excerpt] => What does Facebook have to do with infrastructure? Everything, it would seem! 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