Thursday, 22 March 2018

The tweet Malcolm Bligh Turnbull thought it was wise to delete from Twitter

On 22 March 2018 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull deleted this tweet.

The video this tweet contained survives for a limited time elsewhere.

The reason why this tweet came and went so swiftly? Because many of the people with speaking parts are not low-income aged pensioners who just happen to have shares.

They are former business owners who are now self-funded retirees and, a least one of them structured his superannuation now in the pension phase on the premise that he would be receiving a taxpayer-funded cashback payment for unused franking credits - that is cash handouts for tax he never paid - for forever and a day.

One suspects that Turnbull suddenly realised that the video was not the tearjerker he originally thought it was.

Turnbull Government, business and industry still out to suppress minimum wage

According to the Australian Treasury in November 2017;  

On a variety of measures, wage growth is low....

However, weaker labour productivity growth seems unlikely to be a cause of the current period of slow wage growth in Australia. Over the past five years, labour productivity in Australia has grown at around its 30-year average annual growth rate....

An examination of wage growth by employee characteristics using the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey and administrative taxation data suggests that recent subdued wage growth has been experienced by the majority of employees, regardless of income or occupation.....

This is true across the States and Territories, across industries, and across both the public and private sectors. Real wage growth – wage growth relative to the increase in prices in the economy – has also been low.

The Reserve Bank of Australia suggests in its March Quarter 2017 Bulletin that there is"

...some tentative evidence that the relationship between wage growth and labour market conditions may have changed, and that this may help to explain recent low wage growth. Using job-level micro wage data, we also find that, since 2012, wage increases have been less frequent and wage growth outcomes have become much more similar across jobs.

Being paid at the minimum wage rate means that a worker is paid the lowest hourly income for his/her labour that is legally allowable.

At the beginning of the 21st Century (January 2001) the national minimum wage was $10.53 per hour or $400.40 per 38 hour week (before tax).

The current national minimum wage is $18.29 per hour or $694.90 per 38 hour week (before tax) according to the Fair Work Commission.

That represents a rise of $7.76 an hour over the course of 17 years - the equivalent of 45 cents a year.

Not a spectacular hourly base wage growth by any measure.

In March 2018 the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries (AFEI), Australian Retailers Association, Restaurant & Catering Industrial (RCI), Australian Business Industrial and the NSW Business Chamber Ltd (along with eight other industry representatives) made initial submissions to the Fair Work Commission Annual Wage Review 2017-18.

It will come as no surprise that any decent rise in the minimum wage is being resisted in these submissions.

A number of business and industry representatives appear to believe that even raising the minimum wage hourly rate by as little as 34-35 cents is an onerous burden.

Frequent mention is made of the supposed part the businesses they represent play in national ‘jobs and growth’ and the risk wage increases allegedly pose.

A notion supported by the Turnbull Government’s own submission.

Couched in polite terms within their submissions is the last resort position of both the federal government and big business. 

It seems they are reluctantly willing to accept a minimum wage increase that doesn't rise by more than 1.9% (rate of inflation in December 2017) and definitely resist the idea of a rise that actually results in real wages growth.

However, there is another less polite aspect of the part businesses play in the lives of workers and it should be remembered when listening to business and industry representatives make their wage case during media appearances.

The Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman’s 2018 media releases offer a window on that other aspect which includes a widespread contempt for both workers and the law.

 Media release, 16 March 2018:

Western Sydney campaign reveals high rates of unlawful workplaces

High rates of non-compliance uncovered by the Fair Work Ombudsman in Western Sydney have reinforced the importance of ensuring that Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities have ready access to workplace information and advice.

The Fair Work Ombudsman today released the results of its proactive education and compliance campaign in the region, covering suburbs including Cabramatta, Guildford, Mt Druitt, Fairfield and Merrylands.

Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of the 197 businesses audited by the Fair Work Ombudsman during the campaign were found to be non-compliant with workplace laws.

The campaign led to a total of $369,324 in unpaid wages and entitlements being recovered for 199 workers.

Sixty-four per cent of businesses were compliant with record-keeping and payslip requirements, while just 58 per cent were paying their employees correctly.

The campaign was initiated following an increase in the number of requests for assistance received from some parts of the region in previous years, despite an overall decrease across New South Wales in the same period.

As part of the campaign, Fair Work inspectors conducted site visits with a particular focus on Harris Park and Parramatta in response to intelligence received by the agency indicating potential non-compliance amongst restaurants in the area.

The suburbs are also home to a higher than average proportion of migrants, with both Harris Park (85 per cent) and Parramatta (74 per cent) at more than twice the national average of 30.2 per cent.

Acknowledging that new arrivals to Australia may have a limited awareness of Australian workplace laws, it was considered that businesses in the region would benefit from tailored support and education from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Only two of the 23 businesses visited in these suburbs were found to be fully compliant – a non-compliance rate of 91 per cent.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the non-compliance rates uncovered by the campaign are highly concerning and cannot be tolerated.

“Where possible, we seek to educate employers and employees about their workplace rights and obligations and equip them with the tools and information they need to ensure they are complying with the law,” Ms James said.

“This area has a large proportion of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, who can find it more challenging to navigate that information or even know where to find it in the first place.

“When combined with a lack of familiarity with workplace laws, language barriers can present significant difficulties to employers seeking to understand and comply with their obligations. 

“The results of this campaign reaffirm the importance of my agency’s work in reaching out to culturally and linguistically diverse communities to raise awareness of the help we can provide.

“We are also making more and more of our tools and resources available in multiple languages, including our Anonymous Report function and the Record My Hours app,” Ms James said.

“Our website can also be viewed in 40 languages other than English with a simple click of the mouse with our new website translator.

“With the wealth of free information and resources available to help businesses understand their obligations, there are no excuses for breaching workplace laws.”
Overall, Fair Work inspectors issued 26 formal cautions, 20 infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) and 11 compliance notices to non-compliant businesses during the course of the campaign.

In one matter, a restaurant business was found to be paying its casual employees under an old award, resulting in a total underpayment of $10,444 to three employees. Fair Work inspectors issued the employer with a compliance notice, and the employees were fully back-paid in accordance with the notice.

Ms James said that non-compliant businesses were now on notice that future breaches could result in serious enforcement action.

“We are happy to work with businesses who require advice and support to meet their workplace obligations, and we will continue our work to ensure our materials are easily accessible to those that need them,” Ms James said.

“Indeed, we were pleased that the employers that we dealt with over the course of this campaign were cooperative and willing to engage with our inspectors, and that all contraventions were willingly rectified.

“We will continue to pursue new initiatives aimed at engaging with businesses in the region to ensure they have access to the help and information they need.”

Ms James reaffirmed however that her agency will not hesitate to take action where deliberate or repeated breaches of the law were identified.

“Employers who fail to put in place processes to ensure compliance expose themselves to enforcement action, including litigation in the most serious cases,” Ms James said.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. 

Potential workplace breaches can be anonymously reported in 16 languages other than English using the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Anonymous Report function at

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently developed six videos in 16 languages other than English to help visa holders to understand their workplace rights. These and other in-language resources are available at

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Record My Hours app is aimed at tackling the persistent problem of underpayment of vulnerable workers by using geo-fencing technology to provide workers with a record of the time they spend at their workplace. The app is available in a number of different languages and can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO external-icon.png, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au External link icon or find us on Facebook External link icon.

Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at  

Read the Western Sydney Campaign report (PDF 445.5KB)  [my yellow highlighting]

Media Release, 5 March 2018:
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s latest Compliance Activity Report shows a workplace non-compliance rate of 76 per cent in the Caltex service network…..
The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced proceedings against the former operator of the Caltex Five Dock service station in Sydney, Aulion Pty Ltd, and has also initiated proceedings against Abdul Wahid and Sons Pty Ltd, the former franchisee of a number of Caltex outlets in Sydney.
In both cases, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that the absence of accurate time and wage records prevented inspectors from completing audits and determining whether employees had received their lawful entitlements.
During the activity, the regulator issued nine infringement notices, 11 compliance notices and 16 formal cautions to non-compliant franchisees.
Inspectors also recovered a total of $9,329.85 in back-pay for 26 workers who were underpaid during a one-month assessment period.
Ms James said the agency believes the figure would be higher if underpayments could have been accurately calculated, but with so many deficiencies in the outlets’ records it is impossible to be sure of the true extent of the wage rip-offs. 
“There’s no question that if these findings indicate the norm in this network, and if these underpayments are replicated throughout the business month after month, we are quickly looking at millions of dollars of underpayments over the course of a few years,” Ms James said…..

Media Release, 2 March 2018:
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former franchisee of a 7-Eleven retail outlet in the Melbourne CBD for allegedly exploiting three international students through a cash-back scheme.
Facing Court are Xia Jing Qi Pty Ltd, which operated a 7-Eleven retail store on William Street until March 2017, and the store’s former manager, Ai Ling “Irene” Lin.
It is alleged that after 7-Eleven head office set up a high-tech payroll system in 2016 aimed at ensuring employees were paid lawful minimum rates, the company and Ms Lin tried to disguise underpayments of three employees by requiring them to pay back thousands of dollars in wages.  
The three employees were Chinese students, aged between 21 and 24, who were in Australia on student visas. Ms Lin, from Taiwan, was also in Australia on a student visa…..

Media Release, 27 Feb 2018:
The Fair Work Ombudsman has brought proceedings relating to redundancy entitlements, in a new legal action against services company Spotless Services Australia Limited for allegedly contravening workplace laws when it terminated the employment of three workers at Perth International Airport.

Media Release, 26 Feb 2018:
The operator of a Degani café in Melbourne’s north-east is facing Court after he allegedly used false records to conceal more than $12,000 in underpayments of staff, including teenagers and overseas workers.

Media Release, 21 Feb 2018:
The operators of a Melbourne restaurant have been hit with nearly $200,000 in penalties, after a Judge ruled they deliberately underpaid workers.

Media Release, 20 Feb 2018
A Perth security company has been penalised in Court for underpaying its guards more than $200,000, with a Judge saying the company’s claim that it thought overpaying in relation to minimum rates would “counteract” other rates of pay was a “lame excuse”.

Media Release, 16 Feb 2018:
The operator of a number of massage parlours in Adelaide who said he was “too busy and lazy” to keep proper records has been penalised for contraventions of record-keeping and pay slip laws, following legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Media Release, 15 Feb 2018:
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a Bundaberg-based transport company for allegedly underpaying an employee more than $11,000 over a period of just nine months.

Media Release, 14 Feb 2018:
Cleaning contractors at 90 per cent of Woolworths’ Tasmanian supermarket sites were not complying with workplace laws, a Fair Work Ombudsman Inquiry has found.

Media Release, 13 Feb 2018:
Michael Patrick Pulis, a business operator who told his employee to “seriously, f**k off…” when the worker asked when he would receive money owed to him, has been penalised $21,500.
Judge Grant Riethmuller also penalised Mr Pulis’ company, Pulis Plumbing Pty Ltd, a further $100,000 after a plumber’s labourer, who was 20 years old at the time, was underpaid by $26,882 over just three months.
Judge Riethmuller described the conduct as “outrageous exploitation of a young person”, adding that the behaviour was “such to arouse much emotion” and “nothing short of avarice”.
The worker was underpaid when he was employed by Pulis Plumbing to perform work in the Melbourne, Geelong and Bendigoareas between September and December, 2014.

Media Release, 8 Feb 2018:
A Northern Territory refuge for women and children victims of domestic violence has back-paid 11 employees a total of more than $50,000, after intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Media Release, 6 Feb 2018:
The operator of a remote Northern Territory homestead is facing major penalties after underpaying 17 employees more than $23,000.

Media Release, 24 Jan 2018:
A sushi outlet operator and an accountant have been penalised almost $200,000 for their involvement in an unlawful internship program that exploited young overseas workers.

Media Release, 22 Jan 2018:
A Brisbane labour hire business will face court for allegedly underpaying 10 employees more than $14,000 through an unlawful unpaid work experience program.

Media Release, 17 Jan 2018:
Ten truck drivers who worked for an Adelaide transport company have been back-paid a total of $374,000 following successful legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Media Release, 16 Jan 2018:
The former manager of an Oliver Brown chocolate café outlet on the Gold Coast who was ‘seeing what he could get away with’ when he exploited overseas workers has been penalised $27,200.

Media Release, 12 Jan 2018:
The Fair Work Ombudsman recently assisted workers at four businesses in suburbs south east of Melbourne to recover almost $50,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements.

Media Release, 9 Jan 2018:
A Judge has penalised a repeat-offender Melbourne childcare operator $85,000 for her latest staff underpayments, saying she required a “sharp lesson” to make her appreciate her legal obligations.

Then there is the naked exploitation outlined in the November 2017 UNSW-UTS study, WAGE THEFT IN AUSTRALIA: Findings of the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey:

A substantial proportion of international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants were paid around half the legal minimum wage in Australia…..

Underpayment was widespread across numerous industries but was especially prevalent in food services, and especially severe in fruit and vegetable picking.

Two in five participants (38%) had their lowest paid job in cafes, restaurants and takeaway shops. This was a far greater proportion than for any other type of job….

Large-scale wage theft was prevalent across a range of industries, but the worst paid jobs were in fruit- and vegetable-picking and farm work….

The study confirms that wage theft is endemic among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants in Australia. For a substantial number of temporary migrants, it is also severe.

Besides wages theft, employers have also developed a penchant for pocketing workers superannuation., 30 August 2017:

 …it turns out that Australia’s compulsorary superannuation system has a great big hole in it — one worth $17 billion.

That’s how much super employers have dodged paying in the past eight years, according to new figures released by the ATO this week.

The ATO analysis found that employees had likely missed out on $2.85 billion of their super guarantee payments during the 2014/15 financial year, because employers dodged their obligations, with small business owners among the worst offenders.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wealth Inequality in Australia – something to think about

In 2015-16 there were an est. 326,000 to 337,000 households out of 8.9 million households which could be classified as the richest Australian households based on income and/or wealth, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Wealth in this cohort starts at $10 million and rises, with average weekly incomes starting at a little over $5,000.

The Guardian, 18 March 2018:

The richest 20% of Australians hold about 40% of the national income but nearly 65% of the national wealth, and a majority of the wealth is held by those over 55. And our tax system is designed to help them not only keep it, but to garner more and then give it to their children (who then garner more and then give it to their children, who then ...)

Our retirement system is based around tax-free holdings of wealth – through the family home, which is exempt from capital gains tax, and tax-free income from superannuation.

With those exemptions comes revenue forgone, and the cost of paying for our ageing population is an issue that is hitting us square between the eyes.

The prime earning age for workers is between 25 and 54. Between those ages, you are no longer studying, and not really thinking about retirement. These workers not only power much of our production, but also our tax revenue.

And right now the cohort is shrinking.

Currently just 41% of the population is aged between 25 and 54. The last time it was that low was in 1987, when the first baby boomers were entering their 40s.

Back then, it wasn’t a problem because only 10.5% of the population was aged over 65. But now those 40-year-old baby boomers are retiring and those over 65 account for 15.5% of our population.

That jump is the equivalent of about 1.2 million extra people aged over 65 – people who mostly don’t work (and nor should they be expected to), or pay income tax, but whose pensions and services need to be paid for by the revenue derived from those prime-aged workers.

So what is to be done?

You could – as is the government’s current policy – increase the retirement age to 70 (this policy is still on the Department of Human Services website). That might be fine for someone like me typing away at a desk but not for many others.

You could “crack down on welfare cheats”. The problem is, despite protestations from the government and conservative media, there aren’t many of those.

On Friday, the government announced that it had saved $43.4m – $17.8m in this financial year – from “more than 1,000 wealthy welfare cheats”. That’s from a $46.1bn annual budget for Newstart, DSP and Family Tax Benefit (and the aged pension is another $45.4bn).

Or you could, as the ALP is doing, seek to find extra revenue by cutting out rorts that were designed as electoral sweeteners and favours to the Howard-Costello key demographic.

When this imputation cash rebate was introduced, not many were affected but like any good tax rort, accountants soon caught wind. Add in the 2006 decision to make income from superannuation tax free for those over 60, and suddenly you had a lot of people with a high actual income but very low or zero taxable income taking advantage of it.

Further add in this weird belief that the retirement nest egg must not be touched, and you get a lot of idiotic reporting – such as in the Herald Sun, which had the case study of a woman with an income of $160,000, who we should feel sad for because she will lose her $12,775 rebate. She could, of course, sell some of her shares, but that would actually be using superannuation for its purpose and not as a tax-free inheritance fund.

So it is a smart and needed policy, but also a dangerous one because it affects an area shrouded in confusion and thus very much susceptible to fear-mongering……

The large-scale personal data release Facebook Inc didn't tell the world about

“Back in 2004, when a 19-year-old Zuckerberg had just started building Facebook, he sent his Harvard friends a series of instant messages in which he marvelled at the fact that 4,000 people had volunteered their personal information to his nascent social network. “People just submitted it ... I don’t know why ... They ‘trust me’ ... dumb fucks.”  [The Guardian, 21 March 2018]

“Christopher Wylie, who worked for data firm Cambridge Analytica, reveals how personal information was taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters in order to target them with personalised political advertisements. At the time the company was owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Donald Trump’s key adviser, Steve Bannon. Its CEO is Alexander Nix”  [The Guardian,18 March 2018]

Alexander James Ashburner Nix is listed by Companies House UK as the sole director and CEO of Cambridge Analytica (UK) Limited (formerly SCL USA Limited incorporated 6 January 2015). The majority of shares in the company are controlled by SCL Elections Limited (incorprated 17 October 2012) whose sole director and shareholder appears to be Alexander Nix. Mr. Nix in his own name is also a shareholder in Cambridge Analytica (UK) Limited.

Companies House lists ten companies with which Mr. Nix is associated.

NOTE: In July 2014 an Alastair Carmichael Macwillson incorporated Cambridge Analytica Limited, a company which is still active. Macwilliam styles himself as a management consultant and cyber security professional.

Nix's Cambridge Analytica was reported as indirectly financed by leading Republican donor Robert Mercer during the 2015 primaries and 2016 US presidential campaign.

On 15 December 2017 The Wall Street Journal reported that:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Concerns about Cambridge Analytica and its relationship with Facebook Inc. resurfaced this month.

The Guardian, 18 March 2018:

The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box….

Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

Recode, 17 March 2018:

Facebook is in another awkward situation. The company claims that it wasn’t breached, and that while it has suspended Cambridge Analytica from its service, the social giant is not at fault. Facebook contends that its technology worked exactly how Facebook built it to work, but that bad actors, like Cambridge Analytica, violated the company’s terms of service.

On the other hand, Facebook has since changed those terms of service to cut down on information third parties can collect, essentially admitting that its prior terms weren’t very good.

So how did Cambridge Analytica get Facebook data on some 50 million people?
Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, tweeted a lengthy defense of the company, which also included a helpful explanation for how this came about…..

Facebook offers a number of technology tools for software developers, and one of the most popular is Facebook Login, which lets people simply log in to a website or app using their Facebook account instead of creating new credentials. People use it because it’s easy — usually one or two taps — and eliminates the need for people to remember a bunch of unique username and password combinations.

When people use Facebook Login, though, they grant the app’s developer a range of information from their Facebook profile — things like their name, location, email or friends list. This is what happened in 2015, when a Cambridge University professor named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” that utilized Facebook’s login feature. Some 270,000 people used Facebook Login to create accounts, and thus opted in to share personal profile data with Kogan.

Back in 2015, though, Facebook also allowed developers to collect some information on the friend networks of people who used Facebook Login. That means that while a single user may have agreed to hand over their data, developers could also access some data about their friends. This was not a secret — Facebook says it was documented in their terms of service — but it has since been updated so that this is no longer possible, at least not at the same level of detail.

Through those 270,000 people who opted in, Kogan was able to get access to data from some 50 million Facebook users, according to the Times. That data trove could have included information about people’s locations and interests, and more granular stuff like photos, status updates and check-ins.

The Times found that Cambridge Analytica’s data for “roughly 30 million [people] contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles.”

This all happened just as Facebook intended for it to happen. All of this data collection followed the company’s rules and guidelines.

Things became problematic when Kogan shared this data with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook contends this is against the company’s terms of service. According to those rules, developers are not allowed to “transfer any data that you receive from us (including anonymous, aggregate, or derived data) to any ad network, data broker or other advertising or monetization-related service.”

As Stamos tweeted out Saturday (before later deleting the tweet): “Kogan did not break into any systems, bypass any technical controls, our use a flaw in our software to gather more data than allowed. He did, however, misuse that data after he gathered it, but that does not retroactively make it a ‘breach.’”….

The problem here is that Facebook gives a lot of trust to the developers who use its software features. The company’s terms of service are an agreement in the same way any user agrees to use Facebook: The rules represent a contract that Facebook can use to punish someone, but not until after that someone has already broken the rules.

CNN tech, 19 March 2018:

Kogan's company provided data on millions of Americans to Cambridge Analytica beginning in 2014. The data was gathered through a personality test Facebook application built by Kogan. When Facebook users took the test they gave Kogan access to their data, including demographic information about them like names, locations, ages and genders, as well as their page "likes," and some of their Facebook friends' data.

There is some evidence that Cambridge Analytica is a bad actor according to a report by 4News on 19 March 2018:

Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica – the data company that credits itself with Donald Trump’s presidential victory – have been secretly filmed saying they could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers.

In an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News, the company’s chief executive Alexander Nix said the British firm secretly campaigns in elections across the world. This includes operating through a web of shadowy front companies, or by using sub-contractors.

In one exchange, when asked about digging up material on political opponents, Mr Nix said they could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house”, adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well”.

In another he said: “We’ll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet.”

Offering bribes to public officials is an offence under both the UK Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Cambridge Analytica operates in the UK and is registered in the United States.

The admissions were filmed at a series of meetings at London hotels over four months, between November 2017 and January 2018. An undercover reporter for Channel 4 News posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka.

Mr Nix told our reporter: “…we’re used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows, and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you.”

Along with Mr Nix, the meetings also included Mark Turnbull, the managing director of CA Political Global, and the company’s chief data officer, Dr Alex Tayler.

Mr Turnbull described how, having obtained damaging material on opponents, Cambridge Analytica can discreetly push it onto social media and the internet.

He said: “… we just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then, and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again… like a remote control. It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘that’s propaganda’, because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda’, the next question is, ‘who’s put that out?’.”

It should be noted that Cambridge Analytica has set up shop in Australia and the person named in the filing documents as the only shareholder was Allan Lorraine. Cambridge Analyitica is said to have met with representatives of the Federal Liberal Party in March 2017.

Despite denials to the contrary, It is possible that Cambridge Analytica has been consulted by state and federal Liberals since mid-2015 and, along with i360, was consulted by South Australian Liberals concerning targeted campaigning in relation to their 2018 election strategy.

Once the possibility of Australian connection became known, the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner made preliminary inquiries. 20 March 2018:

Facebook could be fined if Australians' personal information was given to controversial researchers Cambridge Analytica, the privacy watchdog says.

Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim says he is aware profile information was taken and used without authorisation.

"My office is making inquiries with Facebook to ascertain whether any personal information of Australians was involved," Mr Pilgrim said on Tuesday.

"I will consider Facebook's response and whether any further regulatory action is required.".

Cambridge Analytica is facing claims it used data from 50 million Facebook users to develop controversial political campaigns for Donald Trump and others.

The Privacy Act allows the commissioner to apply to the courts for a civil penalty order if it finds serious breaches of the law......

UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is also investigating the breach, promising it will be "far reaching" and any criminal or civil enforcement actions arising from it would be "pursued vigorously".

Facebook Inc's initial response to this issue was a denial of resonsibility which did not play well in financial markets

The Guardian, 21 March 2018:

It appears that while Facebook had been aware of what the Observer described as “unprecedented data harvesting” for two years, it did not notify the affected users.

What’s more, Facebook has displayed a remarkable lack of contrition in the immediate aftermath of the Observer’s revelations. Instead of accepting responsibility, its top executives argued on Twitter that the social network had done nothing wrong. “This was unequivocally not a data breach,” Facebook vice-president Andrew Bosworth tweeted on Saturday. “People chose to share their data with third party apps and if those third party apps did not follow the data agreements with us/users it is a violation. No systems were infiltrated, no passwords or information were stolen or hacked.”

In a sense, Facebook’s defence to the Cambridge Analytica story was more damning than the story itself. Tracy Chou, a software engineer who has interned at Facebook and worked at a number of prominent Silicon Valley companies, agrees that there wasn’t a hack or breach of Facebook’s security. Rather, she explains, “this is the way that Facebook works”. The company’s business model is to collect, share and exploit as much user data as possible; all without informed consent. Cambridge Analytica may have violated Facebook’s terms of service, but Facebook had no safeguards in place to stop them.

While some Facebook executives were busy defending their honour on Twitter over the weekend, it should be noted that Zuckerberg remained deafeningly silent. On Monday, Facebook’s shares dropped almost 7%, taking $36bn (£25.7bn) off the company’s valuation. Still, Zuckerberg remained silent. If you’re going to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right? Apparently, silence is Zuck’s way of being mature.