Showing posts with label South Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Australia. Show all posts

Friday, 6 April 2018

Are Facebook and those unethical data miners already manipulating voters in Australian elections?

Is the 'American disease' already making Australian democracy ill?

On 27 March 2018 the blog Queen Victoria observed:

During the recent South Australian election, take a guess how many Labor policy announcements made the front page of The Advertiser, the State’s only major newspaper? If you guessed zero, you would almost be right. In fact, there were only two – a promise by Labor to invest in TAFE, and even then it was half a tiny corner article, worth 36 words, with the other half given to a Liberal election pledge, and Labor’s loans for solar panels and batteries, again a handful of words, and sitting beside a Liberal promise. You’ll need a magnifying glass to spot the articles on the front pages below..

Looking at those front pages it was easy to see what Victoria Rollison meant.

But was it more than just News Corp playing Murdoch's favourite game of Labor bashing?

Earlier, on 17 March 2018 the day of the South Australian state election (which the Liberals subsequently won) journalist Mark Kenny wrote in the Weekend Australian that:

Like Turnbull in 2016, Marshall and his team have been criticised for not being sufficiently aggressive about Labor’s failings. But they have run short, sharp and effective negative TV commercials (the sort that bewilderingly never came in the federal campaign) around the theme of “I’ve had enough, Jay” which neatly captures the mood for a corrective change. This is a good example of how paid advertising can deliver tough messages if politicians are reluctant.

Yet a sense of coasting has worried many Liberal supporters and observers. When I told a group of Adelaide Liberals last month that Marshall and his team seemed insufficiently combative towards Labor and Xenophon, a front­bencher pulled me aside afterwards and showed me his phone. He argued I misunderstood their methods, that public assertions and media debates were not the main game. He showed me his i360 app, a new campaigning tool that has revolutionised the Liberals’ marginal seats campaigning.

Through i360 the SA Liberals believe they have progressed to a new level of targeted campaigning, leaping far ahead of what has been used before by either major party in Australia. If they perform well, we can expect a technological and tactical quantum leap forward at the next federal campaign.

In his quick demonstration, the MP called up a marginal seat, much like finding a suburb on Google Maps, then zoomed in to a street where pins identified addresses deemed to house swinging voters. Deeper dives on households contained genders, ages, voting intentions or lack thereof as well as policy interests. The information is collated from the party’s existing Feedback system, updates from doorknocking and calls, responses to surveys conducted via email, online or phone calls plus census data and the harvesting of social media data. This is Big Brother meets grassroots campaigning. Neither the data nor the technology is much use without quality information fed in and strong analysis leading to the right strategies, along with diligent personalised attention in follow-up visits and communications.

This is leading-edge campaigning, as i360’s website explains. “Data is the difference,” it proclaims, describing its “extensive political identification” through information collected from “in-person, phone and online surveys, as well as through partner relationships in addition to lifestyle and consumer data” purchased from “top-tier” providers. “Our data is further enhanced by our suite of predictive models, filling in gaps and helping us build the most complete profile for every individual possible,” it says.

Billionaire US Republican sponsors Charles and David Koch are major investors in the firm, which openly canvasses only for “free-market” candidates. The SA Liberals purchased a product licence and have worked with i360 to modify systems for compulsory and preferential voting. Motivated by the frustration of 2014 where, despite a huge popular vote win, just a few hundred votes in the right seats would have made all the difference, Marshall has driven this innovative approach. He and novice Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum visited the US in Aug­ust 2016 to assess the system before other campaign strategists joined the training and implementation.

If the Liberals surprise on the upside today, SA’s expertise will be immediately sought after for the looming Victoria, NSW and federal campaigns.

Long lead times help and the SA Liberals have had more than a year to build up data and, crucially, follow up on targeted voters more than once. This is where grassroots organisation, numbers on the ground and diligence are essential, lest intelligence is wasted for lack of personal politicking, but the potential for efficiency, personalised material and two-way feedback to shape policies and messages is huge. Even in an age when you can get an app for everything, no app can win you an election. And I still think public policy differentiation and aggression are crucial.But if the Liberals form a major­ity even after the unprecedented Xenophon disruption, expect to hear a lot more about i360 and data-driven campaigning.

So what exactly is i360?

This is what it said of itself at on 31 March 2018:

At i360® we believe THE DATA IS THE DIFFERENCE. But what does that mean? Simply put, it means integrating data in everything we do to produce the most effective outcomes for every one of our clients.

At the core of the i360 operation is a comprehensive database of all 18+ American consumers and voters containing thousands of pieces of individual and aggregated information that give us the full picture of who they are, where they live, what they do and what is happening around them. Leveraging this and our capabilities in data science, analytics, technology development and advertising, we help clients take their efforts to the next level by embracing the concept of truly borderless data.

i360 boast of these statistics:

Snapshot of section of i360 home page, 31 March 2018

i360 has a multiple presences on Facebook eg. i360online and [IP addresses are deliberately not supplied in this post and caution is urged if readers decide to vist these pages]

i360 aslo boasts of playing a "crucial" part in the South Australian election on its 
"Newsroom" page.

This is what is said of this company elsewhere………

The Real News, 29 March 2018:

Kochs have a far more sophisticated operation called i360. And they track, as you heard in the little clip from my film, 1800 pieces of data on you dynamically and on a continuous basis. They basically know your credit card purchases, they know your cable viewing habits. This is a lot deeper into your guts and soul and privacy than even your Facebook profile from Cambridge Analytica. And also you have a very similar operation used by Karl Rove. That's the guy that was known as Bush's brain, though Bush calls him Turd Blossom. This is the, Karl Rove was the engineer of some of the creepiest and possibly illegal activities behind the Bush campaigns. He's still out there with his own database operation called Data Trust, whose main client is the Republican National Committee.

These operations do more than grab some of your private information or just your Facebook profiles. Some of their activities have actually unquestionably bent elections not just by convincing you do things, you know, their idea is to try to zombify, you know, know everything about you and manipulate you. But sometimes they go way, way beyond that in their operations to win elections….

They're targeting you because they know very personal things about you. They literally know, as Mark Sweetland says, we're not making that up as an example, it's really true. For example, i360 knows if you downloaded porn and then order Chinese food before you voted. They can use that information to manipulate how you vote. And by the way, deviously, whether you vote at all. They can convince you not to vote. That's a real powerful tool that they have. That's part of the game, is convincing you not to vote. So that's one of things that they do…..

…they can convince you. For example, a lot of the, lot of the targeting about Hillary Clinton was not to get you to vote for Trump but to get voters who, for example, voted for Bernie Sanders or others, to convince them not to vote at all. And that was very, very effective, for example, in Wisconsin, where according to a University of Wisconsin study, about 50000 people, mostly students in Madison County and Milwaukee, didn't vote because they were convinced that, that Hillary was evil enough that it just didn't matter. They may be crying now, but the but the-…..

Encourage apathy and saying that your vote doesn't matter. And that's one of the things that they're very good at. But the other is very, some of it's not too subtle, OK. For example, in Wisconsin the Koch brothers, a spinoff from i360, one of the operators there working with Kochs sent out e-mails, and sent out social , sent out e-mails to people on their databases who own guns, who live in rural areas and normally vote by mail-in ballot. And they sent them messages saying, protect your guns. And these are also all Democrats. Protect your guns and vote. Make sure you send your absentee ballot to this address on this date. The address was wrong, and the date was too late to get your vote counted. So that was one way that Scott Walker, for example, won his against his recall in the recall referendum. Then they rolled it out. The same trick. Wrong date, wrong address for your absentee ballots to minority and Democratic voters in North Carolina. And then throughout the South.

So some of this is really fraudulently stealing your vote away. And that's just, that was the i360 spinoff. Then you have Data Trust, which is Karl Rove's operation. they used an operation which I uncovered working with the Guardian and BBC called caging. And what caging is is you send letters, Karl Rove used his databases to target, for example, students, black students in black colleges who were away from their school on summer vacation. They are registered, these were students registered, for example, in the swing state of Florida. And they knew that they weren't at their at their voting addresses even though they are legal voters because they were home for the vacations. They sent letters. When the letters marked Do Not Forward came back to the Republican National Committee, those voters were challenge as not existing, and they lost their vote. They sent these letters as well to black soldiers and airmen at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. They sent letters to men at homeless shelters you don't always get their mail. And as a result they used, they used this information to challenge the right of those voters' ballots to be counted. If they mailed them in their ballots would be junked. If they try to show up to vote they were blocked from voting. That's the ugly, ugly and truly actually illegal use of these databases, and that's just some examples we've uncovered.

Well, I think that Cambridge Analytica, which is like I say, the least sophisticated, and they try to use brain massaging. By the way, they also use other tactics. One of the services that they offer, I just you know, is to is to say that they'll set up your opponent, political opponent, with hookers and tape them. So it's not just, they've got that database and then they would, of course, use their social networking thing to blow it all up. But it will have a huge impact on the 2018 election. A bigger impact on 2020.

And this includes other operations that these database guys are working on. One of them you mentioned, a guy Kris Kobach, secretary of state of Kansas. He is Trump's what I call Vote Thief in Chief. He was officially appointed to run Trump's so-called vote fraud commission. One of the databases he uses is a roll crosscheck, where he gives lists of voters he says are registered or actually vote in two states in a single election, which is illegal. He has claimed with Donald Trump that three million people voted twice, mostly voters of color. And I'm the only journalist to actually have, I have a copy of the of of his list of double voters. The three million double voters. And it's people with names like Jose Garcia, and David Lee, and John Black. These are just common names of voters of color, but not, you know, obviously not common for Republicans.

But you'll see names in this, for example, Maria Cristina Hernandez is supposed to be the same voter as Maria Inez Hernandez. That person is supposed to be the same voter who voted one in Virginia and one in Georgia. That's their claim. And those voters named Garcia and Hernandez lose their vote. On that list, two million of those accused voters, people accused of voting twice, don't have the same middle name. Two million people accused don't have the same middle name, and they are removing, this is important, they're actually removing hundreds of thousands of people from the voter rolls as we speak. In fact without, without this game, this database game called Crosscheck, which is Trump and Kobach's database, Trump would not have won in 2016…..

It's serious stuff. Because if it were simply a matter of targeted advertising, convince you to vote for their candidate, that's all right.

But Cambridge Analytica has been, their, their chiefs were caught on tape by Channel 4, one of the outlets I work with, by Channel 4 investigators in Britain, saying that they will create fake news about your opponent and use their social networking abilities and use their particular targeting of individuals, their social networking habits, to spread fake news about your opponent. And they said we can do it in a way that no one will know that we've been involved. They said they successfully did this already in other countries. We don't even know how many countries because they make a point of keeping their involvement hidden. This is very, very scary stuff. They are deliberately creating, Donald Trump's screaming about fake news, but he employed the fake news generator. That's the big problem. That's one of the very big problems of Cambridge Analytica, and I know that we have that same problem with Data Trust, i360, and some of the others.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Coalition MPs just cannot stay out of the headlines

Hot on the heels of the discovery of how many Coalition parliamentarians are involved in the dual citizenship disaster.... 

Prior to entering the South Australian Parliament in March 2014 the then Liberal  now Independent Member for Mount Gambier, Troy Bell, was a teacher, online wine purveyor, restaurateur and manager of the Independent Learning Centre at Mt. Gambier.

According to its website History page; The Independent Learning Centre (ILC) opened its doors in Mount Gambier in January 2007 as a co-operative pilot program between the State Government’s Department of Education and Children’s Services, the Federal Government FOCiS on Youth initiative, and, later, the Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN) initiative.

14 AUGUST 2017

Prosecution pending On Friday 11 August 2017, a public officer was charged with 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents, being seven minor indictable offences and 19 major indictable offences, as a result of an investigation by my office. It will be alleged that the 43-year-old man from Mount Gambier dishonestly dealt with a substantial amount of public money. It will be further alleged that the public officer used documents known to be false, with the intention of claiming a benefit for himself. The alleged offending is said to have occurred between 9 July 2009 and 18 March 2013. The man has been summonsed to appear in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court at 10:30am on 22 August 2017.

ABC News, 17 August 2017:

State Liberal MP for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has resigned from the party after being charged with stealing a substantial amount of taxpayers' money.

Liberal Party state director Sascha Meldrum confirmed she had received and accepted Mr Bell's resignation on Thursday.

The first-term MP intends to remain in Parliament and has released a statement saying he is "innocent of these allegations of theft and dishonesty and will defend them in court".

Last week, Mr Bell was charged with 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents.

He's due to appear in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court next Tuesday.

It will be alleged Mr Bell dishonestly dealt with a substantial sum of public money, and that he used documents known to be false, with the intention of claiming a benefit for himself.

The alleged offences are said to have occurred between July 9, 2009 and March 18, 2013, prior to his time in Parliament.

The former teacher ran an Independent Learning Centre in Mount Gambier before his election in 2014.

Mr Bell confirmed in a statement he had been "charged with a number of offences" and he denied any wrong doing.

ABC News, 18 August 2017:

Liberal leader Steven Marshall has come under fire for his party's response to the controversy engulfing Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell, who is facing criminal charges and has resigned from the party after an anti-corruption investigation.

It was revealed today Bell's decision, which has thrown Liberal preselection in the seat in South Australia's south-east into turmoil, followed a probe by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Bruce Lander.

Bell will appear in court on Tuesday to face charges including 20 counts of theft that allegedly occurred over four years, before he became an MP.

"It will be alleged that the 43-year-old man from Mount Gambier dishonestly dealt with a substantial amount of public money," Mr Lander said in a statement.

"It will be further alleged that the public officer used documents known to be false, with the intention of claiming a benefit for himself."

The former teacher ran an Independent Learning Centre in Mount Gambier before his election in 2014, but is maintaining his innocence and vowing to fight the charges.

Labor is calling on Bell to immediately resign from Parliament and force a by-election, but he has committed to remaining as an independent.

He today spoke publicly about the matter for the first time, and is refusing to rule out contesting the next election.

"That's too early to determine. This has taken a very heavy toll on my family and my staff," he said.

The Advertiser, 18 August 2017:

CHARGED MP Troy Bell did not tell the Liberal Party he was the subject of an internal Education Department inquiry before his alleged crimes were referred to ICAC for investigation.

Sources told The Advertiser that Mr Bell — who is facing 26 criminal charges and has quit the Liberal Party — was aware of an investigation into financial irregularities at the learning facility he managed at Mt Gambier as early as April last year.

Mr Bell on Friday refused to comment on this, stating that his lawyer had advised him not to response to further questions.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said his office had not been advised of any internal investigation into Mr Bell and he first became aware of the ICAC inquiry on Sunday when told by Mr Bell.

As the political storm over the scandal deepened, Premier Jay Weatherill said Mr Bell should resign from Parliament immediately and he attacked Mr Marshall’s leadership on the issue, citing his silence, lack of decisive action and backing for Mr Bell to remain in parliament.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

South Australia calls for independent judicial inquiry into water theft under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Just in case you thought the Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy retained the brains he was born with.....

The 1 in 50 year storm, 28 September 2016

This is Liberal MP for Kooyong and Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, writing in The Australian on 30 September 2016:

Public expects energy security

The total loss on Wednesday of South Australia’s electricity supply was a seismic event.

People were stuck in lifts, there was chaos on the roads and residents were huddled around candles while they were confined to their homes.

This is unacceptable in modern Australia and there must be a better way.

Energy security is non-negotiable and we are unapologetic in making it our foremost priority.

For too long much of the debate in this country regarding energy policy has focused on emissions reduction, namely how to reduce our carbon footprint to meet our climate change goals, as well as an ideological debate about increasing renewables, whatever the cost.

While a lower emissions future is undoubtedly important, it counts for little to the public if they are sitting in the dark.

We cannot trade away the reliability of the system as we transition to a low-carbon future because to do so would be far costlier in the long run.

This is why we need to understand what exactly took place in South Australia and the reasons behind it.

The preliminary advice to me from the Australian Energy Market Operator is that a once-in-50- years weather event, which included more than 80,000 lightning strikes across the state in one day, blew over more than 20 electricity transmission towers and “tripped” the two interconnectors — Heywood and Murraylink — that send electricity from Victoria to South Australia. But for that weather event, the blackout would never have occurred.

Questions, however, will be asked as to why the initial outage couldn’t be contained, preventing the blackout cascading across the state, and what measures should now be implemented to enhance the resilience of the system.

But regardless of the specific cause of this event, there are significant broader questions about the impact of the changing energy mix on the stability and reliability of the grid; in particular, how the increasing percentage of power generation from intermittent sources such as solar and wind creates large fluctuations in voltage and frequency, challenging the system.

In the words of the Australian Energy Market Commission earlier this month, “the system strength has been reducing” as wind and rooftop solar “have low or no physical inertia and are therefore currently limited in their ability to respond to sudden large changes in electricity supply or consumption”. This is unlike hydro, gas and coal, which by their nature “maintain a consistent operating frequency and maintain the strength of the system in localised networks”.

It was this issue that AEMO identified as most acute in South Australia, as its reliance on wind and solar at 41 per cent of power generation is extremely high and coal and gas-fired power stations at Northern and Pelican Point recently closed.

With South Australia and other states hurtling towards ever higher and aggressive state-based renewable energy targets, it is now time they heed the warnings of our independent energy market experts.

It is quite irresponsible for the Queensland government, with 4.4 per cent of the state’s power presently generated by renewable energy, to commit to a 50 per cent target by 2030; or for the Victorian government, with 12 per cent renewable energy today, to commit to a 40 per cent target by 2025 without a clear and practical road map for getting there with energy security guaranteed.

At the last Council of Australian Governments energy ministers meeting, the commonwealth, states and territories agreed to work on better understanding the impacts state-based renewable targets are having on stability and pricing in the system.

This work may be very important in the federal government’s attempt to harmonise the renewable targets…..

What an utter load of political tosh. Renewable energy targets had nothing to do with what went down in South Australia on Wednesday, 28 September 2016.

It was a large and violent weather event that took out the means of power transmission which led to that widespread power outage not the method by which energy is generated.

In other words, electricity transmission towers were being turned into scrap metal by the mega storm (including three out of the four transmission lines moving power between Adelaide and the north of South Australia), sub stations were being fried by lightning strikes and electricity poles and wires connecting homes/farms to the grid were being brought down by destructive wind gusts up to 130km/h and falling trees.

Images found on Twitter


The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that the mega storm included several confirmed tornadoes.

Friday, 23 September 2016

South Australian motorists are wondering why their NSW cousins have a workable Fuel Check and they do not

One of North Coast Voices South Australian readers alerted us to this.


ABC News, 24 December 2015:

Motorists will soon have access to the same petrol price information as retailers, under a deal brokered by the competition watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reached agreement with petrol price information service Informed Sources and four major petrol retailers to make almost real-time data available to motorists.

Currently, the retailers have exclusive access to information about petrol price moves within 15-30 minutes of when they occur through Informed Sources.

Under the deal, Informed Sources will make the same information available to consumers for free and to third parties on commercial terms.

The ACCC's chairman Rod Sims told ABC News that this will facilitate improved competition amongst petrol retailers.

"Consumers will have the information to shop and get the best deal, that will improve competition on the ground," he argued.

"Secondly, ourselves and motoring organisations and others will be able to see exactly what's going on, who's leading prices up, who's leading prices down."

See: Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), Petrol price information sharing proceedings resolved


RAA, media release, 17 September 2016:

Site specific fuel prices will no longer be available via RAA’s website due to a deal struck by the ACCC, and it could cost motorists up to $24 a tank when filling up. 

RAA Senior Manager Mobility & Automotive Policy Mark Borlace said the agreement comes into effect from today. 

“At the moment we receive site specific fuel prices for Adelaide twice a day, and we share that information with motorists via our website,” said Mr Borlace. 

“We also use the data to monitor price trends day-to-day, which allows us to notify motorists when a price spike is imminent, just as we did this week when prices spiked +27cpl. 

“As of today, we are only able to provide a daily average price for fuel in Adelaide, which is significantly inferior to what motorists have benefited from via our website for more than a decade.” 

Using RAA’s website, on occasion Adelaide petrol motorists could spot as much as a 40cpl variation in prices between the best and worst sites. 

“Using this information, Adelaide motorists would have saved anywhere between $12 and $24 per 60L tank over the past year,” said Mr Borlace. 

“If motorists are left to rely on street price boards, they won’t be able to see the ‘bigger picture’ to decide which route to take on any given day to get the best deal on fuel.” 

RAA is disappointed that motorists will not be able to get reliable site-specific fuel price information online as a consequence of the ACCC’s deal with the fuel industry, and has called on the State Government to take action. 

“Earlier this year, New South Wales introduced legislation that compels every fuel retailer to report their fuel prices in real-time to a government agency who provides this to the public free of charge without any restrictions,” said Mr Borlace. 

“Not only would an initiative like this allow motorists to find the cheapest prices, it also means we could continue to scrutinise the fuel industry and enhance competition amongst retailers who have to compete with a good price to attract customers.” 

RAA will continue to investigate all avenues to cater for motorists’ needs when it comes to purchasing fuel. 

“Limited pricing information is available via a number of smartphone apps but these offerings do not reliably tell motorists where to find the cheapest fuel,” said Mr Borlace. 

“We’re also concerned that by only providing fuel prices in one format, it disadvantages over half of our members who don’t use smartphone apps. These people are generally the most sensitive to fuel price movements and would benefit most from knowing where to find the cheapest prices. 

“In reality, most motorists will be left in the dark when it comes to fuel prices due to the ACCC’s agreement with the fuel industry.” 

SA Fuel price information is available at

South Australia’s Deputy Premier John Rau has allegedly told the RAA that it would be too expensive to change the law to make releasing the petrol price information legal.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

If your state government isn't Liberal-Nationals don't expect the Turnbull Federal Government to give a damn about 'jobs 'n' growth' for your families

The limited value to South Australia of one particular Turnbull Government defence contract....

Adelaide Now, 10 March 2016:

SPAIN is celebrating the creation of up to 3000 jobs — building Australian ships — as South Australia desperately waits for news of shipbuilding jobs here.
Local newspapers have revealed that Spain is set to get the contract for two replacement supply ships as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wraps up his trip to SA.
Officials in the shipbuilding town Cadiz described it as “great news” and a “historic” win with one report saying it would create 2000 jobs over four years and another saying 3000 jobs.
ASC was knocked out of the running for the contract early on, with the Government opting for a limited tender. The competition was between South Korea and Spanish shipbuilders Navantia, who designed the troubled Air Warfare Destroyers.
At the time, then-Defence Minister David Johnston said the ships were too big to be built in Australia.
But critics from within the industry and within Parliament said they could be built here and the jobs could help bridge the ‘Valley of Death’.

Radio 5aaa, Adelaide, 6 May 2016:

A shaken Nick Xenophon has spoken to Leon Byner about a government decision that has dashed hopes that shipbuilding work worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” would be done in Australia.
Senator Xenophon spoke to Leon Byner only minutes after stumbling across a bombshell about the deal with a Spanish shipmaker to build supply vessels.
“It was revealed in the course of Senate estimates that the supply ship contract was signed yesterday,” Mr Xenophon revealed. “No media announcement, no media release has been put out yet.”
Mr Xenophon said it was “shocking news” to discover the contract worth $800m will only include $130m of Australian content and no Australian shipbuilders.
Asked whether at least Australian steel would be used in the build, Mr Xenophon told a bemused Leon Byner that the Spanish shipbuilder had simply been given the “contact details” of Australian steelmakers.
“You’re telling me that the best they can do for local procurement is give out a phone number? Are you joking?” asked Leon.
“This is no joking matter,” replied Mr Xenophon.
“I was actually shocked. We were all quite stunned.”