Saturday, 17 November 2018

Quote of the Week

"Scott Morrison is Dutton dressed up as lamb"  [Jenny Frecklington-Jones

GIF of the Week

Friday, 16 November 2018

Yet other digital privacy betrayals

The global situation......

The Guardian, 14 November 2018:

Google has been accused of breaking promises to patients, after the company announced it would be moving a healthcare-focused subsidiary, DeepMind Health, into the main arm of the organisation.

The restructure, critics argue, breaks a pledge DeepMind made when it started working with the NHS that “data will never be connected to Google accounts or services”. The change has also resulted in the dismantling of an independent review board, created to oversee the company’s work with the healthcare sector, with Google arguing that the board was too focused on Britain to provide effective oversight for a newly global body.

Google says the restructure is necessary to allow DeepMind’s flagship health app, Streams, to scale up globally. The app, which was created to help doctors and nurses monitor patients for AKI, a severe form of kidney injury, has since grown to offer a full digital dashboard for patient records.

“Our vision is for Streams to now become an AI-powered assistant for nurses and doctors everywhere – combining the best algorithms with intuitive design, all backed up by rigorous evidence,” DeepMind said, announcing the transfer. “The team working within Google, alongside brilliant colleagues from across the organisation, will help make this vision a reality.”

DeepMind Health was previously part of the AI-focused research group DeepMind, which is officially a sibling to Google, with both divisions being owned by the organisation’s holding company Alphabet.

But the transfer and vision for Streams looks hard to reconcile with DeepMind’s previous comments about the app. In July 2016, following criticism that the company’s data-sharing agreement with the NHS was overly broad, co-founder Mustafa Suleyman wrote: “We’ve been clear from the outset that at no stage will patient data ever be linked or associated with Google accounts, products or services.”

Now that Streams is a Google product itself, that promise appears to have been broken, says privacy researcher Julia Powles: “Making this about semantics is a sleight of hand. DeepMind said it would never connect Streams with Google. The whole Streams app is now a Google product. That is an atrocious breach of trust, for an already beleaguered product.”......

Here in Australia......

Canberra Times, 15 November 2018, p.8:

The chairman of the agency responsible for the bungled My Health Record rollout has been privately advising a global healthcare outsourcing company. Fairfax Media discovered the relationship between the UK-based company Serco and the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) chairman Jim Birch after obtaining a number of internal documents.

The revelation comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt was forced to extend the My Health Record opt- out period after a compromise deal with the Senate crossbench and a last-minute meltdown of the website left thousands of Australians struggling to meet the original deadline. 

Since April 2016, Mr Birch has been ADHA chairman with oversight of My HealthRecord, the online summary of key health information of millions of Australians. Documents from the ADHA, released under freedom of information laws, show Mr Birch registered his work for Serco in November 2017, but the relationship was never publicly declared.

After Fairfax Media submitted questions last week on whether the relationship posed a conflict of interest, Mr Birch quit the advisory role.

Serco has won a number of multibillion-dollar government contracts to privately run - and in some cases deliver healthcare in - some of Australia's prisons, hospitals and detention centres.

The ability of Serco to navigate the controversial area of digital health records would be invaluable to any future expansion plans.
A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said all board members had declared their interests.

"Board members do not have access to system operations, and board members cannot be present while a matter is being considered at a board meeting in which the member has an interest," she said.

Lisa Parker, a public health ethics expert at University of Sydney, said the public had been asked to trust the agency is acting in its best interests. She said they should make public any information relevant to that trust…..

The register also shows Mr Birch knows the chief executive of start-up Personify Care, Ken Saman, and has been giving him advice since August last year. The software company recently released "Personify Connect", a product that provides hospitals with "seamless integration" of its original patient monitoring platform with My Health Record.

Despite being scheduled to speak at a "Personify Care breakfast seminar" later this year, Mr Birch has never publicly declared this interest. Mr Birch is also chairman of another start-up called Clevertar that allows businesses to create "virtual agents" and offer "personalised healthcare support, delivered at scale". This relationship is on the public record. 

Public sector ethics expert Richard Mulgan, from Australian National University, said the chairman should submit to a higher standard than ordinary board members and distance himself from anything suggesting a conflict of interest.

He said perception was just as important as reality and the public, not the people involved, was the best judge of whether there was a problem.

"The personal interests register must be published," he said.

"The fact they haven't can only lead to the perception there are conflicts of which they are ashamed."

Mr Birch, Personify Care and Clevertar did not respond to Fairfax Media's questions.

A Serco spokesman confirmed the company met with Mr Birch "occasionally ... over the past 12 months regarding business management", but did not answer whether it paid him.......

The Courier Mail, 15 November 2018, p.4:

Your dietitian, dentist, podiatrist, occupational therapist or optometrist will be able to see if have a sexually transmitted disease or an addiction unless you set access controls to My Health ­Record.

Major new privacy concerns emerged after the Federal Government was yesterday forced into an embarrassing call to delay the rollout.

People trying to access the controversial My Health Record hotline and computer portal experienced major delays during a rush to opt out before the system was rolled out tomorrow.

Health Minister Greg Hunt was forced to delay the opt out period until January 31 after pressure from health groups and crossbench senators.

The Australian Medical Ass­ociation was the only major health group not calling for a delay.

The vast majority of groups were concerned the record would come into ­effect before key privacy and secu­rity upgrades had been passed by ­Parliament. AMA president Dr Tony Bartone denied its position was related to his need to keep the Health Minister onside while he negotiated key reforms to general practice care.

Australia’s Trump Lite is overseas seeing what other trade opportunities he can wreck

The Australian, 13 November 2018, p.2:

Scott Morrison has mounted the strongest defence of any allied leader so far of Donald Trump’s trade policies, denying that Washington has turned protectionist because of its imposition of tariffs on China.

“The US wants to see greater trade and more open trade and they want to see it on better terms,” the Prime Minister told The Australian in an interview in his Sydney office. “It is yet to be established that the US is pursuing a protectionist policy.” 

Mr Morrison said he did not agree with the protectionist ­interpretation of the administration’s trade policy.

Mr Morrison leaves today on a trip to Singapore and Papua New Guinea for APEC and ASEAN-related summits, during which he will meet US Vice-President Mike Pence, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a range of regional leaders.

He gave a distinctive reading of US trade policy.

“If I could summarise US policy, it is that what they’ve been doing until now has not produced that (freer trade) so there should not be an expectation that they’ll continue to do things the way they have been.” But Mr Morrison makes a controversial judgment: “That doesn’t mean their objective has changed — their objective being a more open, freer trading system around the world, with a rules-based order, and everybody ­respecting those rules and those rules not being stacked against any one group.

“They have particular views about how things affect them, then there are other issues around intellectual property and so on where we have said there are some real issues here and things that need to be resolved.” Stressing that it was too early to conclude that the US had made a long-term switch to protectionism, he said: “You can only judge it on the results, not the rhetoric, so let’s see.” Mr Morrison cited the trade deals the Trump administration had done with Canada and Mex­ico and said many commentators saw early Trump trade moves against those nations as indicating long-term protectionism, but the result was new trade deals.

Mr Morrison also stressed that his government was not taking a position for or against the US or China in their trade dispute: “We’re not really judging either party in this because we trade with both and we’ve been successful (with both), whether it’s staying clear of US tariffs on steel and aluminium or with China, which is our biggest trading partner.

“We maintain a pragmatic ­balance.” This is Mr Morrison’s first Asian summit season, but soon after the APEC and East Asia summits he will attend a G20 summit, where he will meet the US President.

Early yesterday, in an interview with David Speers on Sky TV, he slightly misstated government policy when he said definitively that territory in the South China Sea was not Chinese territory.

He cleared this up in a series of later interviews, confirming that Canberra does not take a position on the merits of respective nations’ claims to territory in the South China Sea……


Crikey, 12 November 2018:

Morrison’s “stop asking questions from the Labor Party” diktat to the ABC has taken Australia one step closer to a political discourse dominated by Trumpian semiotics of “fake news” and “enemies of the people”.

Like Trump, Morrison’s aim was to undermine the media — and particularly the ABC — in the minds of that mythical creature, the Liberal Party base, and help out News Corp on the way through.

It came in the same week that Trump ramped-up his own war on journalists: revoking White House clearance from CNN’s Jim Acosta, dismissing another reporter’s “stupid questions” and calling a third a “loser”.

For a journalist, Morrison’s insult is greater. Trump’s name-calling is straight out of the primary school playground; Morrison’s crack goes to the heart of personal and craft integrity…..

The “journalist as enemy of the people” trope is perhaps the most institutionally damaging part of Trumpian semiotics adopted by Morrison. But it’s not the only one.
He seems to be aiming for the Trump look, too. There’s the now-ubiquitous base-ball cap, with Australian branding substituting “Make America Great Again”. There’s the single thumbs-up to say “we’re in this together” to go along with the trademark Trump two handed thumbs-up.

The social media of choice — multi-platform video snippets — similarly taunt with a “laugh-at-me or laugh-with-me, but notice me” Trump sensibility.

His prime ministerial speech patterns reflect both the Trumpian blather of his opening press statement (“a fair go for those who have a go”) interspersed with the cut-through insults: “Bill Shorten is union bred, union fed, union led.” Morrison’s insults do have somewhat more political content than the personalised “Lyin Ted”, and “Little Marco” that Trump pulled out during the 2016 election. 

Policy commitments tend to be the same vague generalities (“we’re gonna fix this”) and he uses the same thought bubble technique (Jerusalem, anyone?) to focus the debate on him, for good or ill.

Meanwhile, Trump has shown he’s willing to learn from Australia, as he famously suggested in his “you’re worse than I am” compliment to Turnbull. The “migrant caravan” that dominated right-wing discourse in the lead-up to the US mid-terms would have chimed in Australian minds with the familiar sound:  Tampa, Manus, Nauru.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Has Morrison's loose lips sunk the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

The populous Indonesian archipelago is one of our nearest northern neighbours. This predominantly Muslim nation is a significant trading partner which purchased $7.03 billion worth of goods and services from Australian business/industry in 2017.

On 24 August 2018 when Scott John Morrison walked over the political corpse of Malcolm Bligh Turnbull to become Australia’s 30th prime minister the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was well on its way to being signed by both governments.

Australia and Indonesia announced the substantive conclusion of negotiations on the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) on 31 August 2018. This agreement will launch a new chapter in economic relations between Australia and Indonesia…..

Indonesia is a growing market for Australian goods and services exporters. In 2017, total two-way trade in goods and services with Indonesia was worth $16.4 billion, making Indonesia our 13th largest trading partner. IA-CEPA will provide Australian and Indonesian businesses an opportunity to expand and diversify this economic partnership.

IA-CEPA builds on commitments under our existing free trade agreement, the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) across goods, services and investment.

In addition to reducing non-tariff barriers to trade and simplifying paperwork, IA-CEPA will allow 99% of Australia's goods exports to enter Indonesia duty free or with significantly improved preferential arrangements. All Indonesia's goods exports will enter Australia duty free.

IA-CEPA will improve conditions for services suppliers and the climate for two-way investment. Australian services suppliers and investors will have greater certainty for entry and operation in the Indonesian market, helping to facilitate more Australian investment in Indonesia. This will create more opportunities for Australians to help meet Indonesia's growing needs for investment and for the supply of world class services in its market.

Both sides will 'scrub' the full text of the agreement, to verify its accuracy and internal legal consistency.  The agreement will be translated into Indonesian with the Indonesian and English versions being equally authentic.  Once translated, the agreement will be ready for formal signature.  The full text of the agreement will be released publicly once it has been signed.

After signature, Australia and Indonesia will then follow their domestic treaty making processes to bring IA-CEPA into force. For Australia, this will include tabling the text of the agreement in Parliament and an inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). [my yellow highlighting]

By Day 81 of his time as prime minister Morrison had managed to publicly offend moderate Muslims here and around the world not once but twice and, the Agreement which was to be signed before the end of the week has now been delayed indefinitely by Indonesia.

Scott Morrison captain's call over the status of Jerusalem in particular was a grave error -based as it was on Pentacoastal teachings and not existing Australia Government policy.

He needs to think before he opens his mouth in future.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Does the Nine-Fairfax merger mean the writing is on the wall for Alan Jones?

With an ageing listener demographic, big brand unhappiness with 77 year-old wannabee politician Alan Belford Jones’ bitter, angry, bigoted, biased on-air persona, a string of defamation payouts by 2GB on his behalf and, his radio contract coming up for renewal in June 2019, has Alan Jones finally reached his use-by date?

The Australian, 12 November 2018:

Alan Jones has been sensationally disciplined by the board and management of Macquarie Media, which refuses to confirm or deny if it has forced its star breakfast presenter to pay some of the costs of the multi-million defamation action brought against the company by the Wagner brothers.

And the 2GB breakfast announcer’s infamous interview with Sydney Opera House boss Louise Herron was “unbecoming and inappropriate”, bosses say.

Diary is told the board is unhappy with the top-rating veteran broadcaster over three incidents: the Wagner defamation case; the use of the racial epithet “nigger in the woodpile” when discussing Liberal leadership turmoil; and the aggressive Herron interview.

Macquarie Media chairman Russell Tate told Diary: “Absolutely, we had a couple of big issues. As you would expect, the board and management have been very mindful about these things and ­decided to make sure they don’t happen again and that’s been done. Alan is a professional. He gets it.”

Tate dismissed talk that advertising revenues had suffered in the wake of the controversies. “Our revenues are good, ahead of last year and ahead of forecasts.”

The price of defame

After Jones’s repeated defamations of the Wagner family over the 2011 Lockyer Valley floods, which killed 12 people, 2GB was ordered to pay $3.75 million, the largest defamation payout in history after Queensland Supreme Court judge Peter Flanagan ruled the defamation was “extremely ­serious and of the gravest kind”.

Tate refused to comment to Diary if the board had forced Jones to contribute. At Macquarie Media’s annual general meeting last week, chief executive Adam Lang confirmed the station had ­insurance but he also refused to confirm or deny if the board had asked Jones to pay. “Whether Alan is paying or not, those are matters that we would like to keep within the company.” The legal ­action would cost Macquarie about $5m and “we are prepared for that” Lang said.

But legal sources put the total cost of the action much higher, ­between $8m and $10m. And other sources at Macquarie told Diary the board had demanded Jones pay some of the costs. One 2GB insider said board members snubbed Jones after a board meeting at the network’s Pyrmont studios.

At the AGM, Tate said: “We have learnt from this and there are new procedures and new rules and new training regimes in place ­including in the case of Alan.”
The company also told the AGM it had “dealt” with Jones over his widely criticised interview with Herron.

Shareholder and anti-gambling activist Stephen Mayne told the board the interview was an “outrageous breach of editorial standards”. Lang said: “I agree it was unbecoming and it was inappropriate. Many in the community including some internally were ­offended by the way in which he handled Louise Herron AM in that broadcast. We have dealt with that directly with Alan.”

Jones was enjoying record ­audiences, Lang said.

Macquarie Media is 54.5 per cent owned by Fairfax Media, whose chief executive Greg ­Hywood sits on the Macquarie Media board. Nine Entertainment is due to complete its takeover of Fairfax next month. How any of this ­affects negotiations over Jones’s contract, which expires mid-next year, remains to be seen.

Mr. Jones is now on indefinite leave due to ill health.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Like Turnbull before him, Scott Morrison fails to connect with voters

In its national opinion poll released on 11 November 2018 Federal Primary Votes came in at:

Liberal-National Party 35 (-1)
Australian Labor Party 40 (+1)
Australian Greens 9 (0)
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation 6 (0)

These results gave this Two-Party Preferred Voting breakdown (based on 2016 federal election preference flows):

The Australian, Twitter, 11 November 2018

AAP General Newswire, 11 November 2018:

Bill Shorten has narrowed the gap to Scott Morrison as preferred prime minister as Labor extends its lead over the coalition in the latest Newspoll.

The coalition government has slipped further behind Labor in the latest Newspoll as Bill Shorten narrowed the gap to Scott Morrison as the nation's preferred leader.

The Liberal-National coalition now trail Labor by 10 points after slipping to 45-55 on a two-party preferred basis, according to the Newspoll published in The Australian on Sunday night.

The coalition’s primary vote fell by a point to 35 per cent - two points higher than the record low of 33 per cent.

Labor's primary vote, according to the national poll of 1802 voters, sits at 40 per cent - only the third time it has hit such a mark in almost four years.

The coalition has been behind on the primary vote since the leadership change in August.

Mr Morrison's latest effort to win back votes - his bus and plane tour of Queensland - appeared to not work with voters with his net approval rating sinking another five points to minus eight.....