The Federal Government has announced a number of initiatives to encourage Social Impact Investing.
WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [category_name] => politics ) [query_vars] => Array ( [category_name] => politics [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [name] => [static] => [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [tag] => [cat] => 22273 [tag_id] => [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array (  => 22371 ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [post_type] => [posts_per_page] => 14 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object ( [queries] => Array (  => Array ( [taxonomy] => category [terms] => Array (  => politics ) [field] => slug [operator] => IN [include_children] => 1 )  => Array ( [taxonomy] => category [terms] => Array (  => 22371 ) [field] => term_id [operator] => NOT IN [include_children] => ) ) [relation] => AND [table_aliases:protected] => Array (  => wp_term_relationships ) [queried_terms] => Array ( [category] => Array ( [terms] => Array (  => politics ) [field] => slug ) ) [primary_table] => wp_posts [primary_id_column] => ID ) [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 22273 [name] => Politics [slug] => politics [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 22266 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 22273 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Politics [category_nicename] => politics [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 22273 [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1 AND ( wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (22266) AND wp_posts.ID NOT IN ( SELECT object_id FROM wp_term_relationships WHERE term_taxonomy_id IN (22364) ) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 14 [posts] => Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27828 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 14:43:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:43:08 [post_content] => The Federal Government announced in the 2017-18 Budget context a number of initiatives to encourage the continued development of the SII market in Australia, including funding of $30 million. By pure coincidence, the Government also gifted $30m to Foxtel. The difference between this and Foxtel’s $30m is that Foxtel will get it over two years, while SII will have to wait ten years - Ed. The government’s package includes funding of $30 million over ten years, the release of a set of principles to guide the Australian government’s involvement in the SII market, and notes that the government will continue to separately consider ways to reduce regulatory barriers inhibiting the growth of the SII market. Social Impact Investing, the government says, is an emerging, outcomes‑based approach that brings together governments, service providers, investors and communities to tackle a range of policy (social and environmental) issues. It provides governments with an alternative mechanism to address social and environmental issues whilst also leveraging government and private sector capital, building a stronger culture of robust evaluation and evidenced-based decision making, and creating a heightened focus on outcomes. It is important to note that social impact investing is not suitable for funding every type of Australian government outcome. Rather, it provides an alternative opportunity to address problems where existing policy interventions and service delivery are not achieving the desired outcomes. Determining whether these opportunities exist is a key step in deciding whether social impact investing might be suitable for delivering better outcomes for the government and community. Government agencies involved in social impact investments should also ensure they have the capability (e.g. contract and relationship management skills, and access to data and analytic capability) to manage that investment. The principles The principles (available in full here) acknowledge that social impact investing can take many forms, including but not limited to, Payment by Results contracts, outcomes-focused grants, and debt and equity financing. The principles reflect the role of the Australian Government as an enabler and developer of this nascent market. They acknowledge that as a new approach, adjustments may be needed. They also acknowledge and encourage the continued involvement of the community and private sector in developing this market, with the aim of ensuring that the market can become sustainable into the future. Finally, the principles are not limited by geographical or sectoral boundaries. They can be considered in any circumstance where the Australian Government seeks to increase and leverage stakeholder interest in achieving improved social and environmental outcomes (where those outcomes can be financial, but are also non‑financial). Accordingly, where the Australian Government is involved in social impact investments, it should take into account the following principles:
[caption id="attachment_27829" align="alignnone" width="216"] The Australian Government's six principles for social impact investing.[/caption] [post_title] => Social Impact Investing to get $30m [post_excerpt] => The Federal Government has announced a number of initiatives to encourage Social Impact Investing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27828 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 14:46:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:46:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27828 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27814 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 13:24:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 03:24:12 [post_content] => New research released by The Australia Institute identifies significant gaps in federal anti-corruption measures, as calls grow for a federal ICAC ahead of a major national conference on the issue. The report finds that:
- Government as market enabler and developer.
- Value for money.
- Robust outcomes-based measurement and evaluation.
- Fair sharing of risk and return.
- Outcomes that align with the Australian Government’s policy priorities.
- There are significant gaps in the jurisdiction and investigative powers of the federal agencies responsible for scrutinising the public sector and government.
- No agency has the power to investigate corrupt conduct as defined by state-based commissions.
- No agency can investigate misconduct of MPs, ministers or the judiciary.
- The only agencies that have strong investigative powers can only use them when investigating criminal charges.
- No agency holds regular public hearings, meaning that corruption and misconduct is not properly exposed to the public.
- To fill these gaps, a federal anti-corruption commission will need strong investigative powers and broad jurisdiction similar to NSW ICAC and other successful state-based commissions.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);
- motor neurone disease;
- multiple sclerosis;
- the neurological disorder known as stiff person syndrome;
- severe and treatment-resistant nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy;
- pain associated with cancer;
- neuropathic pain;
- an illness or condition declared by the regulations to be a terminal or serious medical condition.
"… the criminalisation of homelessness is deeply concerning and violates international human rights law."As the special rapporteur highlighted, homelessness is already “a gross violation of the right to adequate housing”. To further discriminate against people rendered homeless by systemic injustice is prohibited under international human rights law.
Further reading: Ban on sleeping rough does nothing to fix the problems of homelessness
Real problem is lack of affordable housingIn contrast to her Melbourne counterpart, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore had been adopting a more human-rights-based approach to resolving the challenges presented by the Martin Place camp. After negotiating with camp organisers, Moore made it clear her council would not disperse the camp until permanent housing was found for all of the residents. As she pointed out:
"You can’t solve homelessness without housing — what we urgently need is more affordable housing and we urgently need the New South Wales government to step up and do their bit."It’s no secret that housing affordability in both Sydney and Melbourne has reached crisis point. And homelessness is an inevitable consequence of this. But we have seen little real action from government to resolve these issues. The NSW government has been offering people temporary crisis accommodation or accommodation on the outskirts of the city. This leaves them isolated from community and without access to services. In contrast, these inner-city camps don’t just provide shelter, food, safety and community; they also send a powerful political message to government that it must act to resolve the housing affordability crisis. Having established well-defined rules of conduct, a pool of shared resources and access to free shelter and food, the Martin Place camp can be seen as part of the commons movement. This movement seeks to create alternative models of social organisation to challenge the prevailing market-centric approaches imposed by neoliberalism and to reclaim the Right to the City.
Further reading: Suburbanising the centre: the government’s anti-urban agenda for Sydney
We should be uncomfortableIt is not surprising that right-wing pundits have described these camps as “eyesores” or that they make NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian “completely uncomfortable”. The breach of human rights these camps represent, and the challenge they pose to the current system, should make people uncomfortable. Unlike most comparable nations, Australia has very limited legal protections for human rights. In this context, actions like the Martin Place and Flinders Street camps are one of the few options available to victims of systemic injustice to exercise their democratic right to hold government to account. In seeking to sweep this issue under the carpet, both the City of Melbourne and the NSW government are not only further breaching the right to adequate housing, they are also trying to silence political protest. It is clear from Moore’s demands, and the NSW government’s own actions, that the Martin Place camp is working to create pressure for action. What will motivate the government to resolve this crisis once the camps have been dispersed? As Nelson Mandela argued in 1991 at the ANC’s Bill of Rights Conference:
"A simple vote, without food, shelter and health care, is to use first-generation rights as a smokescreen to obscure the deep underlying forces which dehumanise people. It is to create an appearance of equality and justice, while by implication socioeconomic inequality is entrenched. "We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom. We must provide for all the fundamental rights and freedoms associated with a democratic society."Mandela’s words were hugely relevant to apartheid South Africa, where a ruling elite had established a deeply racist and unjust system that linked political disenfranchisement and material deprivation. But they also resonate today in Australia where inequality is on the rise – driven in large part by disparities in property ownership. Homelessness is a deeply dehumanising force that strips people of access to fundamental rights. The policies that are creating this crisis must be seen as unacceptable breaches of human rights. We need to start asking whether our current economic system is compatible with a truly democratic society. Cristy Clark, Lecturer in Law, Southern Cross University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Clearing homeless camps will make the problem worse [post_excerpt] => "You can’t solve homelessness without housing." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => clearing-homeless-camps-will-make-problem-worse [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:22:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:22:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27781 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-07 09:03:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-06 23:03:28 [post_content] => Andrew Ferrington The third series of 'Utopia', the fan favourite for all who have worked in an office, premiered last month. The series — created by the prolific Working Dog team — tells of the National Building Authority's coexisting contrary tensions of bureaucracy and ‘blue sky’ ambitions. At the outset, let me disclose that I spent more than 15 years in a variety of roles in public service and am now back in the private world. The show is great — the ministerial adviser tries to highlight the positives of the NBA's ambitions, while the authority itself grapples with its commission to be ambitious in its outlook. The show makes its mark by illustrating the tensions between the government, its ministers and the institutions that oversee it, all while the NBA attempts to complete public brief it has to envision the future. The thing that concerns me is not the laughs at the bureaucracy's expense, it’s what it points out about the private sector. The big-picture thinking that always gets a laugh, is now nowhere to be seen. Because it can't be. Only government is able to take the risk to lead such big change. The private sector not only can't – but won't. It doesn't have the mandate, the appetite or the ability to dream large with these projects. The trope that "we don't need the government" as Rob Sitch's character says in episode one, becomes simply wrong. No entity but the government can make a decision or show the leadership that is needed to execute projects that bring about fundamental changes to society. Further, the contemporary discussion about ‘small’ government and that it should get out of the way of business is also a nonsense. If we didn't have government imagining these large projects, taking risks that the private sector can't even conceive of, and spending the money (yes, our money), society would be nothing like it is today. We do well to understand the context in which government works, because it is important. This leadership trickles down: while the government mandates that women, people with a disability or indigenous peoples have a significant contribution to play in society, the private sector is far behind. As a former bureaucrat, 'Utopia' makes me laugh. Yes, I've seen these behaviours: where the tyranny and vanity of politics overrules all. But it also makes me sad, because it mocks the leadership role that government plays, and the vision and ideas that the private sector can't possibly imagine. Next time you leave home (which is standing solidly, because government regulations mandated it should be built to a certain standard), think about the water, electricity and other services you use, the roads you drive on, footpaths you walk on, and trains you might catch. While they may be delivered by the private sector, they were planned and imagined by governments. And without them, we would be significantly worse off. Andrew Ferrington is the national tenders manager at Findex Group. [post_title] => There is no private ‘Utopia’ [post_excerpt] => Government is the only one working to create a 'Utopia'. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => no-private-utopia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-07 15:04:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-07 05:04:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27781 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27748 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 17:02:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 07:02:40 [post_content] => As the council amalgamations fiasco rolls on, it is becoming apparent that for some of the administrators, being lavished millions of dollars of government funds to spend at their discretion is becoming too strong an attraction to say goodbye to at the coming elections. Standing for elections So far at least two administrators have declared their intention to stand for office at the coming council elections. Queanbeyan-Palerang administrator Tim Overall and Armidale regional administrator Ian Tiley have both confirmed they will be standing for election, despite what many believe is an obvious conflict of interest in their current positions as administrators. The Greens believe the Premier must immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “It’s not unlawful, but there is no doubt that it is deeply inappropriate for administrators to be running for council elections. “These administrators have been given an enormous platform in their local communities over the last 18 months, not to mention access to millions of dollars in council funds and community grants. “There is an obvious conflict of interest if administrators are now putting their hand up to run at the upcoming local government elections, after being given the role of a cashed-up local despot for 18 months. “These individuals have had well over a year to implement their agenda and build on their existing local profile, they should not be able to run at the upcoming elections. “The Liberal National government’s forced amalgamation mess continues to be plagued with dysfunction, and as always they treat residents and ratepayers like mugs. “Any competent government would have outlawed this practice; instead we have the Liberal Nationals in charge. “If the Premier had any respect for local communities, she would immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations for council.” Mr Shoebridge said. In the meantime in Sydney, a NSW Government-appointed administrator is seeking to sell off commercial waste services on the eve of council elections United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said a forcibly-merged council in Sydney’s west has come under fire after it was revealed that it will no longer be able to provide waste services to more than 1,000 commercial and trade customers, following a decision to outsource domestic waste services and sell off its fleet of garbage trucks. Cumberland Council, which was formed following the forced merger of Holroyd Council with Auburn and parts of Parramatta, has admitted in council business papers that as a result of the controversial decision by NSW Government-appointed administrator Viv May to outsource domestic waste services, the council would no longer be able to provide services to commercial clients, either. In June, Mr May awarded a $68 million contract to United Resource Management to run domestic waste services for ten years, Mr Kelly said. “The sale of Council’s fleet means Council will not be able to service its trade and commercial waste customers in the future,” the council document states. Mr May is expected to use the next council meeting — the final one before democracy is restored with the election of new councillors next month — to approve a plan to seek expressions of interest from private waste operators to also take over Cumberland Council’s commercial waste operations. Mr Kelly, whose union represents more than 30,000 local government workers across the state, said the NSW Government needed to urgently intervene to prevent the loss of further services ahead of new councillors being elected. “Just a week after Premier Gladys Berejiklian publicly abandoned the NSW Government’s failed policy of forcibly amalgamating councils, one of her government’s administrators is making a last-ditch effort to sell off community services before council elections can take place next month,” Mr Kelly said. “During the past month, this unelected and unaccountable administrator has locked ratepayers into a costly outsourcing arrangement for the next decade, decided to sell the fleet of garbage collection vehicles, and now intends to do the same with commercial waste services. “There are more than 1,000 businesses that will be impacted by this decision, yet there has been no consultation with them, the broader community, or workers. “Having an appointed administrator making major decisions on the eve of elections, including the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts and the sale of council assets, is completely unacceptable and is one of the reasons communities across the state fought so hard against these forced mergers. “Premier Berejiklian and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton need to urgently intervene to stop the unelected administrator of Cumberland Council from selling assets, cutting services, or entering contracts, with all decisions instead held over until a democratically elected council retakes the reins,” Mr Kelly said. … and Woollahra wants its money back Waverley Councillor John Wakefield believes the administrator has engaged in building a castle-in-the-air and is keen to seek state government re-imbursement for the costs of the merger. “With the merger called off, we have certainty about the future of the eastern suburbs councils,” Cr Wakefield said. “Let’s now consider what the ratepayers of Waverley have paid to jump through the hoops of the State Government’s mega-merger fantasy.” While Woollahra Council and its Mayor led the opposition against the merger, Waverley Council and its Mayor went about setting up Waverley for the merger with Randwick and an unwilling Woollahra. According to Cr Wakefield, a team of Waverley staff has been working for two years on the merger. Consultants were hired to prepare detailed reports on management and staffing structures under a merged council, facilities and office accommodation requirements, vehicle and truck fleet management issues, maintenance contracts, IT systems integration, and numerous other complex issues requiring detailed plans. “We estimate that well over $500,000 was spent by Waverley Council in direct costs to consultants, while hundreds and hundreds of hours of senior council staff time was occupied in meetings, preparing reports, workshopping the incredible complexity of merging three large organisations together whilst attempting to maintain work levels and resident expectations of service delivery. “Simultaneously and additional to this, Waverley Council under Mayor Betts also hired consultants and allocated a significant amount of staff time on a proposal to re-develop Council’s Library and adjacent buildings. This has been marketed as the ‘Civic Heart’ precinct. It was actually a feasibility study to house a merged council’s town hall. “Mayor Betts was preparing to spend a significant amount of ratepayers money to house a now abandoned merged Eastern Suburbs Council,” he said. This Civic Heart project has an allocation of $80 million in Waverley Council’s forward budget but would have in reality cost in the order of $120 million. Combined with Mayor Betts’ grand project for the Bondi Pavilion with a budget of $40 million, this would have exhausted Waverley’s $130 million capital works reserve totally. “We will now be seeking re-imbursement from the State Government of all expenditure related to the merger proposal. “If our motion is successful, a more precise figure will be calculated by Council’s General Manager, but we estimate the total cost to ratepayers of over $2 million wasted in the last two years.” [post_title] => Council administrators: caretakers or career builders? [post_excerpt] => Standing for election, selling off assets... council administrators are in the firing line. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-administrators-caretakers-career-builders [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-04 11:09:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-04 01:09:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27748 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27711 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-27 18:26:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-27 08:26:35 [post_content] => Opinion - Everald Compton Bill Shorten has recommended to Malcolm Turnbull that they join together in a bi-partisan attempt to hold a Referendum on Constitutional Change which will enable the Australian Parliament to have four year fixed terms. To his credit, Turnbull has left the door open for further discussions. This is a good initiative that I will strongly support and I hope that you will too. It will enable governments to spend at least their first year of office implementing difficult policies before they inevitably become obsessed with their pressing need to hold on to power at the next election. In addition, fixed terms will cause Prime Ministers to cease their appallingly undemocratic practice of calling elections on a political whim, treating us all as fools in the process, just as Campbell Newman did so disastrously in Queensland and Theresa May did so arrogantly in Britain. However, a referendum will succeed only if other constitutional changes are made at the same time. The first is that changes are needed in the Senate which is the most undemocratic institution on the planet, filled with people who have an enormously distorted vision of their unintended power and enjoy languishing there for six unaccountable years. If the current practice of Senators serving double terms continues to be tolerated, they will have eight years before they face the voters again, which will be an absolute abuse of privilege, appalling by any democratic standards. So, the Constitution must be changed so they serve one four year term only, exactly the same as the Members of the House of Representatives, with their elections being held at exactly the same time. The Constitution currently does not provide for this. And the number of Senators must be drastically reduced. Australia does not need a Parliament that elects 12 Senators from each State, most of whom do not have a clue as to how to fill their days. Five from each State is plenty and the financial savings will be enormous. This will mean that there will also be a lesser number of crossbenchers who can stop a Government from carrying out the mandates on which they were elected. At the same time, the Constitution must be changed to say that the House of Representatives can never have more than 100 electorates. We have far too many Members of Parliament, over 150 in fact, despite the fact that we live in a world where most voters are disgusted with politics and want the least number of politicians possible. Along with this, we must also abolish preferential voting which is massively manipulated by politicians and creates situations in which it can takes months to decide who won. Whoever is first past the post must always win and we can know on Election night who our next government will be. If we can achieve this in one referendum, that will be an enormous achievement by comparison with the fate of previous referendums, but it can be done. Indeed, the vote to reduce the number of Members and Senators will get a 99% positive vote. I have allowed 1% for the votes of politicians and their families and friends. After giving the voters a few years rest, we must then have another referendum to totally abolish the Senate. Quite simply, it is not needed. When drafting the Constitution in the 1890’s, our Founding Fathers created a Senate for one purpose only, to protect the small States against the big ones. But, in one and a quarter centuries, there has never been an occasion when Senators from one State have ever banded together to vote to protect their State. They have always voted by direction of their political parties. Nor do we need a Senate as a House of Review. When we elect a Government, we must let them govern and not have one hand constantly tied behind their backs. Democracy allows us to toss them out at the next election if they betray their mandate. After waiting for a few more years of voter respite, we can then have another go and force all six States to scrap Local Governments and break their States up into smaller States. We will need about 50 of them nation wide, who will assume the current powers of both State and Local Governments. The Constitution already gives States the power to break up into smaller States while, strangely, that same Constitution does not mention Local Governments at all. This significant change will cause enormous rural and regional development to occur, utterly decentralising Australia, as the needs of our existing capital cities are absolutely different from those of the rest of Australia. State Governors will be no longer needed. All fifty States will have an Administrator who is responsible to the Governor General for ensuring that responsible government prevails. Whilst I am a staunch Republican and want to see that happen quickly, I also can see all of the above changes as being equally necessary to the final removal of the remnants of unsatisfactory government by Colonial England. Clearly, it is long overdue to reform Australian politics and voters are now in a mood to take a huge hit at a complacent Establishment which is serving us badly. Let’s start right now. Yours at Large Everald Compton [post_title] => Political reformation [post_excerpt] => A referendum on fixed terms will succeed only if other constitutional changes are made. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => political-reformation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-27 18:29:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-27 08:29:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27711 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27681 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 18:00:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 08:00:17 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23593" align="alignnone" width="300"] Centrelink is using the services of spyware company, Cellebrite.[/caption] Monique Mann, Queensland University of Technology; Adam Molnar, Deakin University, and Ian Warren, Deakin University An Australian Tax Office (ATO) staffer recently leaked on LinkedIn a step-by-step guide to hacking a smartphone. The documents, which have since been removed, indicate that the ATO has access to Universal Forensic Extraction software made by the Israeli company Cellebrite. This technology is part of a commercial industry that profits from bypassing the security features of devices to gain access to private data. The ATO later stated that while it does use these methods to aid criminal investigations, it “does not monitor taxpayers’ mobile phones or remotely access their mobile devices”. Nevertheless, the distribution of commercial spyware to government agencies appears to be common practice in Australia. This is generally considered to be lawful surveillance. But without proper oversight, there are serious risks to the proliferation of these tools, here and around the world. The dangers of the spyware market The spyware market is estimated to be worth millions of dollars globally. And as Canadian privacy research group Citizen Lab has noted, spyware vendors have been willing to sell their wares to autocratic governments. There are numerous examples of spyware being used by states with dubious human-rights records. These include the surveillance of journalists, political opponents and human rights advocates, including more recently by the Mexican government and in the United Arab Emirates. In Bahrain, the tools have reportedly been used to silence political dissent. Commercial spyware often steps in when mainstream technology companies resist cooperating with law enforcement because of security concerns. In 2016, for example, Apple refused to assist the FBI in circumventing the security features of an iPhone. Apple claimed that being forced to redesign their products could undermine the security and privacy of all iPhone users. The FBI eventually dropped its case against Apple, and it was later reported the FBI paid almost US$1.3 million to a spyware company, reportedly Cellebrite, for technology to hack the device instead. This has never been officially confirmed. For its part, Cellebrite claims on its website to provide technologies allowing “investigators to quickly extract, decode, analyse and share evidence from mobile devices”. Its services are “widely used by federal government customers”, it adds. Spyware merchants and the Australian Government The Australian government has shown considerable appetite for spyware. Tender records show Cellebrite currently holds Australian government contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the specific details of these contracts remain unclear. Fairfax Media has reported that the ATO, Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Department of Employment , Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Department of Defence all have contracts with Cellebrite. The Department of Human Services has had a contract with Cellebrite, and Centrelink apparently uses spyware to hack the phones of suspected welfare frauds. In 2015 WikiLeaks released emails from Hacking Team, an Italian spyware company. These documents revealed negotiations with the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the AFP and other law enforcement agencies.
Laws and licensingIn Australia, the legality of spyware use varies according to government agency. Digital forensics tools are used with a warrant by the ATO to conduct federal criminal investigations. A warrant is typically required before Australian police agencies can use spyware. ASIO, on the other hand, has its own powers, and those under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, that enable spyware use when authorised by the attorney-general. ASIO also has expanded powers to hack phones and computer networks. These powers raise concerns about the adequacy of independent oversight. International control of these tools is also being considered. The Wassenaar Arrangement, of which Australia is participant, is an international export control regime that aims to limit the movement of goods and technologies that can be used for both military and civilian purposes. But there are questions about whether this agreement can be enforced. Security experts also question whether it could criminalise some forms of cybersecurity research and limit the exchange of important encryption technology. Australia has export control laws that apply to intrusion software, but the process lacks transparency about the domestic export of spyware technologies to overseas governments. Currently, there are few import controls. There are also moves to regulate spyware through licensing schemes. For example, Singapore is considering a license for ethical hackers. This could potentially improve transparency and control of the sale of intrusion software. It’s also concerning that “off-the-shelf” spyware is readily accessible to the public.
‘War on math’ and government hackingThe use of spyware in Australia should be viewed alongside the recent announcement of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s so-called war on maths. The prime minister has announced laws will be introduced obliging technology companies to intercept encrypted communications to fight terrorism and other crimes. This is part of a general appetite to undermine security features that are designed to provide the public at large with privacy and safety when using smartphones and other devices. Despite the prime minister’s statements to the contrary, these policies can’t help but force technology companies to build backdoors into, or otherwise weaken or undermine, encrypted messaging services and the security of the hardware itself. While the government tries to bypass encryption, spyware technologies already rely on the inherent weaknesses of our digital ecosystem. This is a secretive, lucrative and unregulated industry with serious potential for abuse. There needs to be more transparency, oversight and strong steps toward developing a robust framework of accountability for both the government and private spyware companies. Monique Mann, Lecturer, School of Justice, Researcher at the Crime and Justice Research Centre and Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Group, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology; Adam Molnar, Lecturer in Criminology, Deakin University; and Ian Warren, Senior Lecturer, Criminology, Deakin University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Spyware merchants: the risks of outsourcing government hacking [post_excerpt] => The distribution of commercial spyware to government agencies appears to be common practice in Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spyware-merchants-risks-outsourcing-government-hacking [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 12:20:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 02:20:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27681 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27691 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 17:10:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 07:10:38 [post_content] => Australia will trump even Donald Trump and become the first nation to cut protections of its ocean estate if it implements plans, released by the Federal Government, to expose vulnerable areas of the marine environment to industrial fishing exploitation. An election promise to be science-based has been ignored in changes proposed to the national network of marine sanctuaries, the Save Our Marine Life alliance of 25 national and state environment groups said. Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has released maps detailing planned cutbacks to protection of coral reefs and key feeding and breeding areas around Australia, but particularly in the Coral Sea. Tourism jobs will also be placed at risk, particularly in the valuable dive and whale watching sectors, if Australia’s reputation as a destination for unspoilt nature experiences is damaged, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “Australia will trump even Donald Trump if it implements these cut backs,” AMCS director Darren Kindleysides said. “No other nation has chosen to go backwards in the protection of its ocean estate. In the US, the Trump administration has launched a review, but Australia is now at the end of its review, ordered by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2013. “All Australians will be justifiably distressed to know that science evidence supporting an increase in protections for marine life has been thrown out the window,” Mr Kindleysides said. More than 3.5 years after the Abbott Review of national marine sanctuaries was launched, commercial fishing has emerged as the biggest beneficiary. Large areas of Queensland’s Coral Sea, as well as sanctuary protections off the coast from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and NSW could be scrapped to make way for an expansion of long-line fishing and seafloor trawling. [caption id="attachment_27693" align="alignnone" width="300"] Long-line fishing. Image courtesy of fish.gov.au / Fishing Research and Development Corporation.[/caption] “The threat to jobs, local businesses and to the survival of unique marine life could be avoided if the government instead chose to create an evidence-based balance for Australia’s oceans,” Michelle Grady, oceans director from the Pew Charitable Trusts said. “The government-appointed review panel reinforced the importance of marine sanctuaries and Australia’s leading marine scientists have informed the Environment Minister of the threat to the productivity of our oceans if sanctuaries are removed,” she said. “Fishing is an important part of Australian life and economic activity, but so is our tourism sector and the opportunity for all Australians to experience nature unspoilt by industry. The success of our ‘blue economy’ depends on securing a healthy marine environment, not in undermining it.” Senate fight on the horizon The Labor Party is proud of the protection plans it established and is promising a fight. In 2012, Labor released what it says was the world’s largest network of marine national parks and protected areas. The network was said to be based on the latest science and extensive community consultation. Midwater trawling is to be reintroduced and it will be now be possible for long-lining to start at the southern tip of the Coral Sea reserve and continue all the way to the northern boundary. “Labor will not stand by and see our precious oceans be attacked. Labor will fight to prevent any backward steps on ocean protection.” The Greens will join The Turnbull Government's attempts to gut ocean protections will face a fight in the Senate and at the next election, the party declared. Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, said: "Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has released draft maps showing protections for coral reefs and critical ecosystems will be gutted around Australia. “If the Turnbull Government wants to pick a fight with Australians who love our oceans then they will get one as any attempt to gut ocean protections will face a disallowance in the Senate. “This is the worse possible time to be scaling back environmental protections, it will make us into another international embarrassment just as we have witnessed with LNP climate vandalism." The Reef will suffer The Queensland Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles slammed the Federal Government’s proposal to decrease the Coral Sea marine park protected area by 76 per cent. “This latest Federal Government Marine Reserves review proposes to cut protections for our marine life and their habitat. “This is another example of the Turnbull Government walking away from the Great Barrier Reef. “Marine Protection is not only good for the environment it is good for the Queensland tourism industry and the 64,000 jobs in supports. Will the ocean fight back? Shifting storms will bring extreme waves, seaside damage to once placid areas, a recent study found, concluding that sea level rise is no longer the only impact climate change will bring to the world's coastlines. What is claimed to be the world’s most extensive study of a major stormfront striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before. [caption id="attachment_27692" align="alignnone" width="300"] The June 2016 ‘superstorm’ that battered eastern Australia caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure, including these homes in Sydney's Collaroy Beach.[/caption] The study, led by engineers at University of New South Wales in Sydney, was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Scientific Reports. “If you have waterfront property or infrastructure that has previously been sheltered from the impacts of extreme waves, this is worrying news” said Mitchell Harley, lead author and a senior research associate at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL). “What this study confirms, is that simply by changing direction, storms can be many times more devastating. And that’s what we’re facing in many locations as the climate continues to change.” Ian Turner, director of WRL and a co-author, said sea level rise was no longer the only factor at play when preparing for the impact of climate change on waterfront areas. “Shifts in storm patterns and wave direction will also have major consequences, because they distort and amplify the natural variability of coastal patterns.” The study relied on data collected during the June 2016 ‘superstorm’ that battered eastern Australia, one of the fiercest in decades: it inundated towns, smashed buildings, swept away cars and infrastructure and triggered hundreds of evacuations across a 3,000 km swathe from Queensland in the north all the way to Tasmania in the south. Three people died and there were more than 80 rescues from stranded cars. [post_title] => Senate fight looms over the deep blue sea [post_excerpt] => Cutbacks to marine protection in the Coral Sea will meet fierce opposition in the Senate, and even the ocean is predicted to fight back. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senate-fight-looms-deep-blue-sea [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 12:19:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 02:19:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27691 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27659 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-20 20:28:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-20 10:28:33 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27660" align="alignnone" width="300"] Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and (former) Energy Minister Mark Bailey.[/caption] Following the resignation of the Greens’ Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters over dual citizenship issues, former Democrat Andrew Bartlett is now under question before he even takes up his new role as a Greens’ senator. In the meantime, the Queensland State Government also loses a minister. Apart from the two Greens senators, 23 parliamentarians were born overseas, all of whom spoke up quickly to assure electors of their singularly Australian citizenships. The Greens: who will do what The Australian Greens Party Room met and determined that the positions of acting australian greens co-deputy leaders be filled by Adam Bandt MP and Senator Rachel Siewert on an interim basis until a ballot of the full part room can be held. During this time, Mr Bandt and Senator Siewert will also maintain their positions of party room chair and party whip. On the same interim basis, former Senator Ludlam and former Senator Waters portfolios will be allocated as follows:
|Foreign Policy & Development (Scott)||Richard Di Natale|
|Defence and Veterans’ Affairs (Scott)||Peter Whish-Wilson|
|Communications (Scott)||Sarah Hanson-Young|
|Sustainable Cities (Scott)||Adam Bandt|
|Nuclear (Scott)||Sarah Hanson-Young|
|Environment and Biodiversity (Larissa)||Janet Rice|
|Mining and Resources (Larissa)||Rachel Siewart|
|Tourism (Larissa)||Nick McKim|
|Women (Larissa)||Janet Rice|
|Gambling (Larissa)||Lee Rhiannon|
|Climate and Energy in Senate (Larissa)||Richard Di Natale|
- What are the transport goals and what services are required to foster growth, jobs and prosperity?
- Where are the investments required to achieve these goals?
John Ward/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA[/caption] Peter Martin, University of South Australia; James Ward, University of South Australia, and Paul Sutton, University of Denver
Neither of Australia’s two main political parties believes population is an issue worth discussion, and neither currently has a policy about it. The Greens think population is an issue, but can’t come at actually suggesting a target. Even those who acknowledge that numbers are relevant are often quick to say that it’s our consumption patterns, and not our population size, that really matter when we talk about environmental impact. But common sense, not to mention the laws of physics, says that size and scale matter, especially on a finite planet. In the meantime the nation has a bipartisan default population policy, which is one of rapid growth. This is in response to the demands of what is effectively a coalition of major corporate players and lobby groups. Solid neoliberals all, they see all growth as good, especially for their bottom line. They include the banks and financial sector, real estate developers, the housing industry, major retailers, the media and other major players for whom an endless increase in customers is possible and profitable. However, Australians stubbornly continue to have small families. The endless growth coalition responds by demanding the government import hundreds of thousands of new consumers annually, otherwise known as the migration intake. The growth coalition has no real interest in the cumulative social or environmental downside effects of this growth, nor the actual welfare of the immigrants. They fully expect to capture the profit of this growth program, while the disadvantages, such as traffic congestion, rising house prices and government revenue diverted for infrastructure catch-up, are all socialised – that is, the taxpayer pays. The leaders of this well-heeled group are well insulated personally from the downsides of growth that the rest of us deal with daily. A better measure of wellbeing than GDP The idea that population growth is essential to boost GDP, and that this is good for everyone, is ubiquitous and goes largely unchallenged. For example, according to Treasury’s 2010 Intergenerational Report:
Economic growth will be supported by sound policies that support productivity, participation and population — the ‘3Ps’.If one defines “economic growth” in the first place by saying that’s what happens when you have more and more people consuming, then obviously more and more people produce growth. The fact that GDP, our main measure of growth, might be an utterly inadequate and inappropriate yardstick for our times remains a kooky idea to most economists, both in business and government. Genuine progress peaked 40 years ago One of the oldest and best-researched alternative measures is the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). Based on the work of the American economist Herman Daly in the 1970s and ’80s, GPI takes into account different measures of human wellbeing, grouped into economic, environmental and social categories. Examples on the negative side of the ledger include income inequality, CO2 emissions, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and the misery of car accidents. On the positive side, and also left out of GDP, are the value of household work, parenting, unpaid child and aged care, volunteer work, the quality of education, the value of consumer goods lasting longer, and so on. The overall GPI measure, expressed in dollars, takes 26 such factors into account. Since it is grounded in the real world and our real experience, GPI is a better indicator than GDP of how satisfactory we find our daily lives, of our level of contentment, and of our general level of wellbeing. As it happens, there is quite good data on GPI going back decades for some countries. While global GDP (and GDP per capita) continued to grow strongly after the second world war, and continues today, global GPI basically stalled in 1970 and has barely improved since. In Australia the stall point appears to be about 1974. GPI is now lower than for any period since the early 1960s. That is, our wellbeing, if we accept that GPI is a fair measure of the things that make life most worthwhile, has been going backwards for decades. What has all the growth been for? It is reasonable to ask, therefore, what exactly has been the point of the huge growth in GDP and population in Australia since that time if our level of wellbeing has declined. What is an economy for, if not to improve our wellbeing? Why exactly have we done so much damage to our water resources, soil, the liveability of our cities and to the other species with which we share this continent if we haven’t really improved our lives by doing it? As alluded to earlier, the answer lies to a large extent in the disastrous neoliberal experiment foisted upon us. Yet many Australians understand that it is entirely valid to measure the success of our society by the wellbeing of its citizens and its careful husbandry of natural capital. At the peak of GPI in Australia in the mid-1970s our population was under 15 million. Here then, perhaps, is a sensible, optimal population size for Australia operating under the current economic system, since any larger number simply fails to deliver a net benefit to most citizens. It suggests that we have just had 40 years of unnecessary, ideologically-driven growth at an immense and unjustifiable cost to our natural and social capital. In addition, all indications are that this path is unsustainable. With Australian female fertility sitting well below replacement level, we can achieve a slow and natural return to a lower population of our choice without any drastic or coercive policies. This can be done simply by winding back the large and expensive program of importing consumers to generate GDP growth – currently around 200,000 people per year and forecast to increase to almost 250,000 by 2020. Despite endless political and media obfuscation, this is an entirely different issue from assisting refugees, with whom we can afford to be much more generous.
You can read other articles in the Is Australia Full? series here. Peter Martin, Lecturer, School of Natural & Built Environments, University of South Australia; James Ward, Lecturer in Water & Environmental Engineering, University of South Australia, and Paul Sutton, Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Denver This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Why a population of, say, 15 million makes sense for Australia [post_excerpt] => Neither of Australia’s two main political parties believes population is an issue worth discussion. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => population-say-15-million-makes-sense-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-13 19:22:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-13 09:22:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27605 [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] => 27828 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 14:43:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:43:08 [post_content] => The Federal Government announced in the 2017-18 Budget context a number of initiatives to encourage the continued development of the SII market in Australia, including funding of $30 million. By pure coincidence, the Government also gifted $30m to Foxtel. The difference between this and Foxtel’s $30m is that Foxtel will get it over two years, while SII will have to wait ten years - Ed. The government’s package includes funding of $30 million over ten years, the release of a set of principles to guide the Australian government’s involvement in the SII market, and notes that the government will continue to separately consider ways to reduce regulatory barriers inhibiting the growth of the SII market. Social Impact Investing, the government says, is an emerging, outcomes‑based approach that brings together governments, service providers, investors and communities to tackle a range of policy (social and environmental) issues. It provides governments with an alternative mechanism to address social and environmental issues whilst also leveraging government and private sector capital, building a stronger culture of robust evaluation and evidenced-based decision making, and creating a heightened focus on outcomes. It is important to note that social impact investing is not suitable for funding every type of Australian government outcome. Rather, it provides an alternative opportunity to address problems where existing policy interventions and service delivery are not achieving the desired outcomes. Determining whether these opportunities exist is a key step in deciding whether social impact investing might be suitable for delivering better outcomes for the government and community. Government agencies involved in social impact investments should also ensure they have the capability (e.g. contract and relationship management skills, and access to data and analytic capability) to manage that investment. The principles The principles (available in full here) acknowledge that social impact investing can take many forms, including but not limited to, Payment by Results contracts, outcomes-focused grants, and debt and equity financing. The principles reflect the role of the Australian Government as an enabler and developer of this nascent market. They acknowledge that as a new approach, adjustments may be needed. They also acknowledge and encourage the continued involvement of the community and private sector in developing this market, with the aim of ensuring that the market can become sustainable into the future. Finally, the principles are not limited by geographical or sectoral boundaries. They can be considered in any circumstance where the Australian Government seeks to increase and leverage stakeholder interest in achieving improved social and environmental outcomes (where those outcomes can be financial, but are also non‑financial). Accordingly, where the Australian Government is involved in social impact investments, it should take into account the following principles:
- Government as market enabler and developer.
- Value for money.
- Robust outcomes-based measurement and evaluation.
- Fair sharing of risk and return.
- Outcomes that align with the Australian Government’s policy priorities.
There are significant gaps in federal anti-corruption measures, a Federal ICAC is needed to fill the gaps.
The NSW Government has voted down legislation that would decriminalise cannabis possession.
“You can’t solve homelessness without housing.”
Government is the only one working to create a ‘Utopia’.
Standing for election, selling off assets… council administrators are in the firing line.
A referendum on fixed terms will succeed only if other constitutional changes are made.
The distribution of commercial spyware to government agencies appears to be common practice in Australia.
Cutbacks to marine protection in the Coral Sea will meet fierce opposition in the Senate, and even the ocean is predicted to fight back.
The Greens federally and the Queensland Government have had to rearrange their houses, fast.
One of the contenders for a $5bn defence contract has undertaken to base itself in Qld.
Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that first- and last-mile issues in freight must also be addressed.
Hornsby Council resolves to seek the return of its lost territory.