Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 August 2018

YouTube begins to face the Internet's darker realities in 2018

The Hill, 6 August 2018:

YouTube on Monday said it had banned Alex Jones’s Infowars channel, following similar actions taken against the controversial right-wing conspiracy theorist by other major U.S. technology companies.

After the channel violated YouTube's policies against child endangerment and hate speech, Jones was banned for trying to circumvent the site's enforcement measures, according to a source familiar with the company’s decision. The source said Jones received a 90-day moratorium on livestreaming for violating its policies and that he then tried to promote his flagship radio show on other YouTube pages, prompting a permanent ban.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Australian Digital Health Agency is considering adding DNA data to My Health Record, 6 April 2018:


The federal government’s controversial My Health Record program is capable of storing genomic data, such as cancer risks, using technology that both has huge research applications and highlights privacy and security concerns.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that genome-sequencing company Genome.One, which can track genetic variations and therefore disease risks, has built “necessary infrastructure” for uploading sensitive genomic data into the opt-out system.

University of Canberra privacy expert Bruce Arnold has criticised the inherent risks of DNA-tracking technology and, just a week after the government backdown on police access to My Health Records, today’s news as again demonstrating a lack public consultation.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) which is responsibe for My Health Record gave Genome.One, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Garvan Institute, $40,000 in September 2017 to support the development of this software.

Its GoExplore™ software provides sequencing and analyses of patients’ DNA samples to assesses their risk of developing 52 hereditary conditions, including 31 cancers, 13 heart conditions, as well several other conditions where monitoring or intervention can be of benefit. 

In a change of focus, Genome.One and The Garvan Institute are reportedly no longer offering clinical reporting for genetic disease diagnosis or personal health genomics in Australia. This service was priced at $6,400 plus GST, with no Medicare rebate.

Staffing numbers in Genome.One have been severely cut, new capital is being sought and, Gavan has stated that it intends to spin off Genome.One software into a new company in which it will be a minority shareholder.

However, Genome.One still intends to pilot its genomics technology integrated into GP practice software and on !8 April 2018 its CEO stated; “We're working with some electronic medical record providers and we're hoping that we can get a trial underway at some point this year”.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Tell me again why the Turnbull Government is insisting My Health Record will become mandatory by the end of October 2018?

It is not just ordinary health care consumers who have concerns about the My Health Record database, system design, privacy issues and ethical considerations.

It is not just the Turnbull Government which has not sufficiently prepared public and private health care organisations for the nationwide rollout of mass personal and health information collection - the organisations themselves are not ready.

Lewis Ryan (Academic GP Registrar)
* 91 % of GP Registrars have never used My Health Record in a clinical context

* 65% of GP Registrars have never discussed My Health Record with a patient

* 78%  of GP Registrars have never received training in how to use My Health Record

* 73% of GP Registrars say lack of training is a barrier to using My Health Record

* 71% of  GP Registrars who have used the My Health Record system say that the user interface is a barrier

* Only 21% of  GP Registrars believe privacy is well protected in the My Health Record system

In fact Australia-wide only 6,510 general practice organisations to date have registered to use My Health Record and these would only represent a fraction of the 35,982 GPs practicing across the country in 2016-17.


Healthcare IT News, 3 August 2018:
The Federal Government’s Health Care Homes is forcing patients to have a My Health Record to receive chronic care management through the program, raising ethical questions and concerns about discrimination.
The government’s Health Care Homes trial provides coordinated care for those with chronic and complex diseases through more than 200 GP practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services nationally, and enrolment in the program requires patients to have a My Health Record or be willing to get one.
But GP and former AMA president Dr Kerryn Phelps claimed the demand for patients to sign up to the national health database to access Health Care Homes support is unethical.
“I have massive ethical concerns about that, particularly given the concerns around privacy and security of My Health Record. It is discriminatory and it should be removed,” Phelps told Healthcare IT News Australia.
Under a two-year trial beginning in late 2017, up to 65,000 people are eligible to become Health Care Homes patients as part of a government-funded initiative to improve care for those with long-term conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and heart and lung diseases.
Patients in the program receive coordinated care from a team including their GP, specialists and allied health professionals and according to the Department of Health: “All Health Care Homes’ patients need to have a My Health Record. If you don’t have a My Health Record, your care team will sign you up.”
Phelps said as such patients who don’t want a My Health Record have been unable to access a health service they would otherwise be entitled to.
“When you speak to doctors who are in involved in the Heath Care Homes trial, their experience is that some patients are refusing to sign up because they don’t want a My Health Record. So it is a discriminatory requirement.”
It has also raised concerns about possible future government efforts to compel Australians to have My Health Records.
“The general feedback I’m getting is that the Health Care Homes trial is very disappointing to say the least but, nonetheless, what this shows is that signing up to My Health Record could just be made a prerequisite to sign up for other things like Centrelink payments or workers compensation.”
Human rights lawyer and Digital Rights Watch board member Lizzie O’Shea claims patients should have a right to choose whether they are signed up to the government’s online medical record without it affecting their healthcare.
“It is deeply concerning to see health services force their patients to use what has clearly been shown to be a flawed and invasive system. My Health Record has had sustained criticism from privacy advocates, academics and health professionals, and questions still remain to be answered on the privacy and security of how individual's data will be stored, accessed and protected,” O’Shea said. [my yellow highlighting]

Thursday, 2 August 2018

NSW Roads & Maritime Services finally come clean: We don't give a damn about any of the concerns Woombah & Iluka residents have about our asphalt plant, it's only Pacific Complete's bottom line that matters

The Daily Examiner via Press Reader, 1 August 2018:

ROADS and Martime Services has revealed it will build at least two asphalt batching plants near the Pacific Highway, most likely between Tyndale and the Iluka turnoff, next year.

Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins said the RMS has pressed the pause button on construction of one plant at Woombah, but the need to supply the Glenugie to Iluka Rd turnoff section with 170,000 tonnes of asphalt would require two plants.

He said the RMS would review the supply strategy for the manufacture and delivery of asphalt on the stretch of highway upgrade after protests from the Woombah community.

But Mr Higgins said if push came to shove when the RMS review decided on locations, residents’ objections would take second place to the technical needs of the project. [my yellow highlighting]

What a travesty Pacific Highway Upgrade community consultations are cannot get much clearer than this.

I'm sure local residents will not be pleased to have their fears confirmed.

Whether he meant to or not, Bob Higgins has probably just cemented the proposed Woombah asphalt batching site as a March 2019 NSW state election issue in the Clarence electorate for both the NSW National Party and the Berejiklian Coalition Government.

No-one likes to be told their valid concerns - about environmental impact, road safety, air quality and potential reduction in tourism numbers which underpin the local economy - don't matter to the state government down in Sydney.


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Turnbull Government prepares an end run around the Australian electorate?

In 1986 the Federal Government couldn’t get the national electorate to accept the Australia Card, a national identity card to be carried by all citizens.

Likewise in 2007 the wider electorate rejected the proposed Access Card, a national identity card with a unique personal identification number, which was to be linked to a centralised database expected to contain an unprecedented amount of personal and other information.

Federal Government also failed to have everyone embrace the idea of MyGov, a data sharing, one-stop digital portal for access to government services created in 2013. To date only 11.5 million people out of a population of over 24.9 million hold an account with MyGov.

When after three and a half years the populace did not register in sufficient numbers for the so-called Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR), an intrusive opt-in data retention system, government changed tack.

It relabelled PCEHR as My Health Record (MHR) in 2016 and broadened the number of agencies which could access an individual’s personal/health information. Decreeing it would become a mandatory data collection system applied to the entire Australian population, with only a short an opt-out period prior to full program implementation1.

However, it seems that the Turnbull Federal Government expects around 1.9 million people to opt-out of or cancel their My Heath Record in the next two months. Possibly with more cancellations to occur in the future, as privacy and personal safety become issues due to the inevitable continuation of MHR data breaches and the occurrence of unanticipated software vulnerabilities/failures.

So Turnbull and his Liberal and Nationals cronies have a backup in place in 2018 called the Data Sharing and Release Bill, which Introduces legislation to improve the use and reuse of public sector data within government and with private corporations outside of government, as well as granting access to and the sharing of data on individuals and businesses that is currently otherwise prohibited.

The bill also allows for the sharing of transaction, usage and product data with service competitors and comparison services. An as yet unrealised  provision which is currently being wrapped up in a pretty bow and called a consumer right - but one that is likely to be abused by the banking, finance, insurance, electricity/gas industry sectors.

The bill appears to override the federal privacy act where provisions are incompatible.

This is a bill voters have yet to see, because the Turnbull Government has not seen fit to publish the bill’s full text. Only an issues paper is available at present.


1. Federal Government may have succeeded in retaining the personal details of every person who filled in the 2016 Census by permanently retaining these details and linking this information to their future Census information in order to track people overtime for the rest of their lives, but this win for government as Big Brother was reliant on stealth in implementation and was limited in what it could achieve at the time. 

Because not everyone ended up with a genuine unique identification key as an unknown number of individual citizens and permanent residents (possibly well in excess of half a million souls) as acts of civil disobedience deliberately filled in the national survey forms with falsified information or managed to evade filling in a form altogether. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Pacific Highway Upgrade 2018: the saga of the unwanted Woombah asphalt batching plant continues

In its latest letterbox drop to Woombah and Iluka communities on 30 July 2018 NSW Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has admitted that, despite a commitment to review the proposed site of the Woombah temporary asphalt plant servicing the Iluka to Devil’s Pulpit section of the Pacific Highway upgrade, it still intends to place 4,000 tons of asphalt on this site by Christmas 2018.

As if from these photographs below locals could not already tell that the plan to use the site for asphalt batching remains active - despite strong community opposition based on road safety, air quality, health and environmental concerns.

Photographs supplied anonymously

This turnoff is the temporary Pacific Highway-Garrets Lane intersection created in March 2018 by NSW Roads and Maritime Services and Pacific Complete as the highway upgrade proceeds along a 27 kilometre stretch. 

It is also the intersection now used by heavy vehicles accessing the proposed site of the temporary asphalt batching plant.

It is an intersection and road Pacific Complete is assuring local residents has been designed and built in accordance with the design criteria.

As the Iluka and Woombah communities were not supplied with a detailed traffic audit for the road design or the change to road design which is set to occur in 2019, they have to take the consortium's word that this is so.

If the complaints by some local residents of being harried by impatient construction truck drivers as they attempt to negotiate the Pacific Highway-Garrets Lane turnoff are any indication, between now and Christmas there may be another collision there.

RMS and Pacific Complete have promised to hold information sessions with the two communities again - one version states sessions commence on 30 July 2018 and another rather obscure document states they commence on 30 August 2018.

July 30 has come and gone without that particular information session taking place.

The deadline for submissions on the temporary asphalt batching plant is 10 August 2018.

Given that deadline, either RMS and Pacific Complete are the most appalling managers of the community consultation process or they are trying to limit the ability to submit fully informed written responses by10 August.

The suspicion that National Party cronyism has played a part in the choice of site is starting to be quietly muttered under the breath as well. It seems Lower Clarence River folk have long memories.

This botched Iluka to Devil's Pulpit highway construction planning and community consultation is likely to be on the minds of quite a few Woombah and Iluka residents as they cast their votes at the NSW state election in March next year.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

When it comes to My Heath Record the words horse, stable, door, spring to mind

In January 2016 the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) became a corporate Commonwealth established under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Establishing the Australian Digital Health Agency) Rule.

It has a board appointed by the Minister for Health in whose portfolio it is situated and the board is the accountable body of the ADHA.

Currently Mr Jim Birch AM, Chair. Mr Rob Bransby, Dr Eleanor Chew, Dr Elizabeth Deven, Ms Lyn McGrath, Ms Stephanie Newell, Dr Bennie Ng,  Professor Johanna Westbrook and Michael Walsh sit on this board.

The executive team is headed by Tim Kelsey as CEO, with Professor Meredith Makeham as Chief Medical Adviser and Bettina McMahon, Ronan O’Connor, Terrance Seymour & Dr. Monica Trujillo as the four executive managers.

ADHA is also the designated Systems Operator for My Health Record which currently holds the personal health information of 5.98 million people across the country and will add the remaining 19 million after 15 October 2018 unless they opt out of being included in this national database.

Given the potential size of this database the question of cyber security springs to mind.

It seems that the Australian Digital Health Agency has not been independently audited for cyber resilience by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) ahead of beginning the mammoth task of collecting and collating the personal heath information of those19 million people.

Australian National Audit OfficePotential audit: 2018-19:

Management of cyber security risks in My Health Record

The audit would examine the effectiveness of the Australian Digital Health Agency’s management of cyber security risks associated with the implementation and ongoing maintenance of the My Health Record system.
My Health Record creates a record of Australians’ interactions with healthcare providers, and more than 5.5 million Australians have a My Health Record. The audit would focus on whether adequate controls are in place to protect the privacy and integrity of individual records.

It seems that the Australian general public still only has the honeypot's dubious word that it cannot be raided by unauthorised third parties.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reacted to growing community concern about the number of agencies which can access My Health Records with a vague promise of "refinements" and with this outright lie; "The fact is that there have been no privacy complaints or breaches with My Health Record in six years and there are over 6 million people with My Health Records".

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has recorded complaints and at least 242 individual My Health Records have been part of mandatory data breach reports in 2015-16 to 2016-17, with nine of the 51 reported breach events involving "the unauthorised access of a healthcare recipient’s My Health Record by a third party".


Intermedium, 8 May 2018:

Re-platforming options for the My Health Record (MHR) system will soon be up for consideration, with an Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) spokesperson confirming that a request for information will be released in the next few months to inform plans to modernise the infrastructure underpinning Australia’s mammoth patient health database.

An open-source, cloud-based environment has already been flagged as a possibility for the MHR by Department of Health (DoH) Special Adviser for Strategic trategic Health Systems and Information Management Paul Madden at Senate Estimates in May last year. He also said that the re-platforming decision was one of many “variables” that needed to be squared away to accurately gauge how much the MHR system will cost beyond 2019-20.
“The variables in there include the re-platforming of the system to an open source environment, using cloud technology… which will be something we will not know the cost of until we hit the market to get a view on that”, Madden said last year. “Our commitment is to come back to the budget in 2019 to paint out those costs for the four years beyond.”
ADHA is scoping out MHR re-platforming options early, with the existing contract with the Accenture-led consortium not set to expire until 2020. As the “National Infrastructure Operator”, Accenture is tasked with running and maintaining MHR’s infrastructure. The prime contractor works with Oracle and Orion Health to provide the core systems and portals behind MHR.
Accenture was awarded the contract to design, build, integrate and test the then-personally controlled electronic health record system (PCEHR) back in 2011, and has signed 13 contracts worth a total of $709.53 million with DoH in relation to the MHR in that time. With the original infrastructure now over seven years old, ADHA recognise the importance of modernising the environment supporting the MHR....

The Sydney Morning Herald, Letter to the Editor, 26 July 2018. p20:

What happens to medical records when opting out?

Dr Kerryn Phelps reminds us that, if people don't opt out, the My Health Records Act allows disclosure of patients' health information to police, courts and the ATO without a warrant ("My Health Record backlash builds", July 25). This would be in addition to "health information such as allergies, medicines and immunisations" available for emergency staff.

How can the access be restricted to emergency staff? How can only certain categories of information be released when allergies and medication are part of general medical notes? I was not reassured by "serious penalties relating to the misuse of information do not apply to accidental misuse" on the website. I opted out.

My GP has told me that, nonetheless, she will be obliged to upload my records - which sounds credible since I have formally opted out with the government, not with my doctor's practice. So what happens - does my health record get kicked off "the cloud"? What exactly did I opt out of?

Denise De Vreeze [my yellow highlighting]

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt is not being truthful about My Health Record and he knows it

On 16 July 2018 the Australian Minister for Health and Liberal MP for Flinders, Gregory Andrew 'Greg' Hunt, characterised My Health Record as a "secure summary" of an individual's key health information.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) tells a rather different story.

One where at least 242 individual My Health Records have been part of mandatory data breach reports in 2015-16 to 2016-17, with nine of the 51 reported breach events involving "the unauthorised access of a healthcare recipient’s My Health Record by a third party".

A story which also involves at least 96 instances of Medicare uploading data to the wrong digital health records and also uploading claim information to another 123 My Health Records apparently without the knowledge or consent of the persons in whose names these My Health Records had been created.

There were other instances where MyGov accounts held by healthcare recipients were incorrectly linked to the My Health Records of other healthcare recipients.

Prior to the database name change and system change from opt-in to opt-out there had been another 9 data breaches of an unspecified nature reported, involving an unknown number of what are now called My Health Records.

More instances are now being aired in mainstream and social media where My Health Records were created by DHS Medicare Repository Services or other agents/agencies without the knowledge or consent of the individual in whose name the record had been created.
Healthcare IT News 16 July 2018

If this is how the national e-health database was officially functioning malfunctioning by 30 June 2017, how on earth is the system going to cope when it attempts to create millions of new My Health Records after 15 October 2018?

On the first day of the 60 day opt-out period about 20,000 people refused to have a My Health Record automatically created for them and at least one Liberal MP has also opted out, the Member for Goldstein and member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport Tim Wilson. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull has stated his view that mass withdrawals will not kill the national digital health records system - perhaps because he and his government are possibly contemplating adopting the following three coercive recommendations found amongst the thirty-one recommendations included in the Siggins Miller November 2016 Evaluation of the Participation Trials for the My Health Record: Final Report:

20. Use all mechanisms available in commissioning and funding health services as vehicles to require the use of the My Health Record to obtain funds where practical.

21. Consider ways to require the use of the My Health Record system by all healthcare providers and how to best use the Government’s purchasing power directly (e.g. in the aged care sector), via new initiatives as they arise (such the Health Care Home initiative) or via PHNs commissioning clinical services (e.g. require use of the My Health Record system in all clinical and aged care services that receive Commonwealth funds). Such requirements should have a timeframe within which healthcare providers need to become compliant.

22. Explore with health insurers how they could encourage preferred suppliers and clients to use the My Health Record system as part of their push for preventive care and cost containment.

That the My Health Record is not about improving health service delivery for individual patients is indicated by the fact that a My Health Record is retained by the National Repositories Service for between 30 and up to 130 years after death and, even during an individual's lifetime can be accessed by the courts, police, other government agencies and private corporations listed as research organisations requiring medical/lifestyle information for what is essentially commercial gain, at the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Health or the Digital Health Agency Systems Operator. See: My Health Records Act 2012 (20 September 2017), Subdivision B - s63 to s70

To put it bluntly, this national database will allow federal government to monitor the personal lives of Australian citizens more closely, enforce civil & criminal law, monetise collated data for its own benefit  and, weaponize the personal information collected anytime it feels threatened by dissenting opinion.


OAIC annual reports:

The Guardian, 22 July 2018:

Australia’s impending My Health Record system is “identical” to a failed system in England that was cancelled after it was found to be selling patient data to drug and insurance companies, a British privacy expert has said.

My Health Record is a digital medical record that stores medical data and shares it between medical providers. In the UK, a similar system called was announced in 2014, but cancelled in 2016 after an investigation found that drug and insurance companies were able to buy information on patients’ mental health conditions, diseases and smoking habits.

The man in charge of implementing My Health Record in Australia, Tim Kelsey, was also in charge of setting up 

Phil Booth, the coordinator of British privacy group Medconfidential, said the similarities were “extraordinary” and he expected the same privacy breaches to occur.

“The parallels are incredible,” he said. “It looks like it is repeating itself, almost like a rewind or a replay. The context has changed but what is plainly obvious to us from the other side of the planet, is that this system seems to be the 2018 replica of the 2014” [my yellow highlighting]

North Coast Voices , 22 July 2018, Former Murdoch journalist in charge of MyHealth records –what could possibly go wrong?


Australian Parliamentary Library, Flagpost, 23 July 2018:

Section 70 of the My Health Records Act 2012 enables the System Operator (ADHA) to ‘use or disclose health information’ contained in an individual’s My Health Record if the ADHA ‘reasonably believes that the use or disclosure is reasonably necessary’ to, among other things, prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute any criminal offence, breaches of a law imposing a penalty or sanction or breaches of a prescribed law; protect the public revenue; or prevent, detect, investigate or remedy ‘seriously improper conduct’. Although ‘protection of the public revenue’ is not explained, it is reasonable to assume that this might include investigations into potential fraud and other financial offences involving agencies such as Centrelink, Medicare, or the Australian Tax Office. The general wording of section 70 is a fairly standard formulation common to various legislation—such as the Telecommunications Act 1997—which appears to provide broad access to a wide range of agencies for a wide range of purposes. 

While this should mean that requests for data by police, Home Affairs and other authorities will be individually assessed, and that any disclosure will be limited to the minimum necessary to satisfy the request, it represents a significant reduction in the legal threshold for the release of private medical information to law enforcement. Currently, unless a patient consents to the release of their medical records, or disclosure is required to meet a doctor’s mandatory reporting obligations (e.g. in cases of suspected child sexual abuse), law enforcement agencies can only access a person’s records (via their doctor) with a warrant, subpoena or court order....

It seems unlikely that this level of protection and obligation afforded to medical records by the doctor-patient relationship will be maintained, or that a doctor’s judgement will be accommodated, once a patient’s medical record is uploaded to My Health Record and subject to section 70 of the My Health Records Act 2012. The AMA’s Guide to Medical Practitioners on the use of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record System (from 2012) does not clarify the situation.

Although it has been reported that the ADHA’s ‘operating policy is to release information only where the request is subject to judicial oversight’, the My Health Records Act 2012 does not mandate this and it does not appear that the ADHA’s operating policy is supported by any rule or regulation. As legislation would normally take precedence over an agency’s ‘operating policy’, this means that unless the ADHA has deemed a request unreasonable, it cannot routinely require a law enforcement body to get a warrant, and its operating policy can be ignored or changed at any time.

The Health Minister’s assertions that no one’s data can be used to ‘criminalise’ them and that ‘the Digital Health Agency has again reaffirmed today that material … can only be accessed with a court order’ seem at odds with the legislation which only requires a reasonable belief that disclosure of a person’s data is reasonably necessary to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute a criminal offence…..

Although the disclosure provisions of different agencies may be more or less strict than those of the ADHA and the My Health Records Act 2012, the problem with the MHR system is the nature of the data itself. As the Law Council of Australia notes, ‘the information held on a healthcare recipient’s My Health Record is regarded by many individuals as highly sensitive and intimate’. The National Association of People with HIV Australia has suggested that ‘the department needs to ensure that an individual’s My Health Record is bound to similar privacy protections as existing laws relating to the privacy of health records’. Arguably, therefore, an alternative to the approach of the current scheme would be for medical records registered in the MHR system to be legally protected from access by law enforcement agencies to at least the same degree as records held by a doctor.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Former Murdoch journalist in charge of MyHealth records –what could possibly go wrong?

Former news editor of the notorious Newscorp publication The Sunday Times which was involved in the UK hacking scandal, former  Executive Director of Transparency and Open Data in the UK Cabinet Office and then National Director for Patients and Information and head of the toxic government project which stored patient medical information in a single database. before ending up as the commercial director of Telstra Health in Australia, Tim Kelsey, was appointed as CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency by the Turnbull Coalition Government to progress the stalled My Health Record national database in 2016 with a salary worth $522,240 a year.

 A curriculum vitae which may go some way to explaining why reports are beginning to emerge of individuals seeking to opt-out of My Health Record finding out they have been registered by stealth in the Australian national database some years ago., 18 July 2018:

The bureaucrat overseeing My Health Record presided over a disaster-plagued national health record system in the UK, and has written passionately about the belief people have no right to opt out of health records or anonymity.

Tim Kelsey is a former British journalist who moved into the electronic health record business in the 2000s. In 2012, he was appointed to run the UK government’s national health record system,, which was brought to a shuddering halt in 2014 after widespread criticism over the sale of patients’ private data to drug and insurance companies, then scrapped altogether in 2016. By that stage, Kelsey had moved to Telstra in Australia, before later taking a government role. There was considerable criticism about the lack of information around, and over 700,000 UK people opted out of the system.

Kelsey vehemently opposed allowing people to opt out — the exact model he is presiding over in Australia. In a 2009 article, “Long Live The Database State”, for Prospect…..

For Kelsey, this was necessary for effective health services…….

Kelsey also expressed his opposition to the anonymisation of data, even of the most personal kind…... 

Kelsey’s vision was of a vast state apparatus collecting, consolidating and distributing private information to enable an interventionist state.

Moreover, he stated others should have access to data…..

ADHA, Kelsey is doing little to fix his reputation for controversy. On Saturday, ADHA released an extraordinary 1000-word attack on News Corp health journalist Sue Dunlevy who correctly pointed out the strong risk to privacy in the My Health Record system. The statement repeatedly criticised Dunlevy, accusing her of “dangerous fearmongering” and being “misleading and ignorant”.

Dunlevy had rightly noted the lack of any effective information campaign about My Health record (exactly the criticism made of, prompting ADHA to boast of its $114 million campaign at Australia Post shops, Department of Human Services “access points” and letters to health practitioners. It makes you wonder why even News Corp’s Janet Albrechtsen said she’d never heard of My Health Record until last week…. 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Not everyone was impressed by NSW Roads and Maritime Services temporary asphalt batching plant "drop-in information session"

Meme contributed
The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina is being progressed by the Pacific Complete consortium composed of NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), UK multinational Laing O'Rourke and Canadian multinational WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

On 11 July 2018 this consortium held a drop-in information session on the subject of the proposed temporary asphalt batching plant at Woombah, a small village in the Clarence River estuary.

This batching plant servicing the Pacific Highway upgrade for the next two and a half years will see up tp 600 heavy and light vehicle movements each day at the Pacific Highway turnoff to Woombah and Iluka - up to 500 heavy vehicle and 100 light vehicle.

Residents from Woombah and Iluka attended the information session.

It was a masterpiece of information sharing apparently.

 Here are selected quotes from one Woombah resident's notes taken at the time.

* "Drop in session by Pacific Complete = complete disaster."

* "The Pad being constructed out of existing 'stock pile and lay down' being prepared for the Asphalt plant did not require approval - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director"

* "It just made it the lead contender for the only three sites you investigated raising it above the 1 in 100 flood level?
"Don't know what you're getting at" -  Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director" 

* "Safety Audit has been conducted for the Iluka turnoff" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director 
By who?
"Don't know" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director 
Can I get a copy?
"No - we do not give those out" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director" 

* "The TRAFFIC INFO TABLE manned by Dave Allars and Ryan Leth were asked what traffic management were to be put in place for the construction of the Plant and the construction of the new Iluka Woombah intersection.
"Don't know" - Dave Allars"

Additional comment from a Woombah resident:

"Did you get to see Andrew Baker's response to briefing? Makes Gulaptis look smart."

“In his defense, he was lied to as well. Because they will force ALL TRAFFIC onto the new route - they told people was for southbound traffic only - the map clearly shows the old route (old Pac and Garrets will be closed) making the problem in fact - worse."

An email discussing the information session was also being sent out from Woombah:

“Pushing the residential/truck choke point from Iluka Road down to the new access road by 31 March 2019 is not a solution to the traffic safety problem. By closing off the Garrett's Lane Access to the Pacific Hwy, the exact same problem of congested traffic with the Plant will still exist into the foreseeable future. Given the Q1 2019 Map (attached) the dangers are increased with truck entry just meters from the New Pacific Hwy Entry. They will make the traffic problem even worse.

One Iluka resident had this to say about the information session:

"I see in the handout that they decided to slip in a concrete batching plant on the same site as well. Does that mean there will be even more trucks?"

Another Iluka resident had this to say about that same  information session:

“Unbelievably slick PR operation engaging up to 30 or even 50 of the staff from within the complex, mostly office and management type staff I think. All squeaky clean and friendly with first names on their jackets.

A few of the highway people were across the issues but there was a lot of “I don’t know" or "I’ll get back to you” or “come over here and meet so and so who might know”.

They claim the batching plant is world’s best practice with systems in place to capture fugitive dusts and emissions.

I asked repeatedly about trucks carrying bitumen into the asphalt plant, or out of the plant as asphalt  were considered a Hazmat incident if there was an accident involving either the bitumen tankers or the asphalt trucks, but couldn’t really get an answer. No one seemed to know.

Plenty of spin last night.”


Bitumin and asphalt are flammable and combustible solids which are Class 4 dangerous goods.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Work Health and Safety Procedures: Bitumin, 1 September 2017, excerpts:

Roads and Maritime Services managers must ensure that appropriate systems are in place to identify, assess and control workers’ exposure to bitumen. Additionally, managers must ensure that workers are provided with relevant information, training, instruction and supervision in the safe use, handling and emergency response requirements (for example bitumen burns cards) of bitumen products. Workers should be able to conduct their work without a risk to their health and safety. For their part, they need to take necessary precautions to prevent and effectively manage the potential hazards and risks of working with bitumen. Industry partners are required to meet work health and safety (WHS) legislative requirements and have in place appropriate safety management systems. Designers of Roads and Maritime infrastructure must eliminate or control (where elimination is not reasonably practicable) the possibility of injury or damage caused by work with bitumen during the construction, use, maintenance or demolition of infrastructure…

Work with bitumen refers to road construction and maintenance work involving:

* All aspects of ‘cold’ bitumen work (such as crack sealing or jointing and road maintenance using cold mix with emulsions applied at ambient temperature)

* ‘Hot’ bitumen products, which are those applied above ambient temperature. These include blending or heated bitumen binders, asphalt batch plant product, laying asphalt, stabilisation of granular materials with hot foamed bitumen, sprayed sealing with hot cutback or polymer modified bitumen or crack sealing with hot sealants

* Bitumen binders include cutback bitumen (with added solvents), bitumen emulsion (with chemically treated water), modified binders (including suitable storage with correct product signs and classification under Dangerous Goods) and oxidised bitumen…..

After identifying the hazards, risks and levels of risk for each risk, it is now necessary to identify and implement appropriate hazard controls. Where no single measure is sufficient, a number or combination of controls is usually required….

Ensuring emergency plans are developed for the specific worksite and emergency information panels are displayed on sides of vehicles carrying dangerous goods (HAZCHEM and UN Numbers), emergency contact numbers and Transport Management Centre (131700), where appropriate.


On Saturday 14 July 2018 the Woombah community held a meeting on the subject of the proposed temporary asphalt plant. This meeting was attended by Roads and Maritime Services Bob Higgins, some Pacific Complete staff and the Nationals MP for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis.

North Coast Voices has received a number of emails concerning this meeting and here are selected quotes:

* “Time after time – Pacific Complete were asked direct and specific questions that were uncomfortably left unanswered.”

* “Chris Gulaptis – when pressed several times “Would YOU like to like your family to live next door to an asphalt plant?” drew a pathetic “I do not know” to finally a capitulation.”

* “When asked about the toxic fumes Mr Gulaptis said ‘I don’t know until I know….but if its bad, if its toxic then of course it should be cut down, it should be closed down and it shouldn't be anywhere in fact, let alone on the corner of Iluka road but at the end of the day its got to go somewhere and we are going to look at the best site and the site that will least impact on our community’.”

* “Mr Bob Higgins, the representative from the RMS, who is in charge of delivering this project, was even more dismissive of community concerns regarding health, suggesting that things have improved over the years and “They have filters they have scrubbers so essentially it is steam which you see coming out.”  He further went on to question in relation to odour s from the plant “Is it harmful or is it inconvenient”  “Is it harmful?  I don’t believe this is the case.”  
I was appalled by that response. Steam does not have an odour! Bob Higgins has previously admitted on the ABC radio that Asphalt Plants do smell, they do have an odour. Breathing in  and smelling something means you are reacting to certain chemicals in the air. Those odours can be toxic and cause headache, nausea and other harmful health effects. 
Mr Higgins also stated that not only is the site to be used for stockpiling paving materials and then the asphalt batching plant but also a Foamed bitumen plant, which had not been disclosed to the community previously.  I find this also to be an additional concern."

* “It was brought to the attention of the meeting by a local residents that the Mororo Wetlands which lies on the western side of the highway is an area of significant environmental significant s with a number off endangered species of animals and pants as well as a koala presence.  From observation of the site it is clear that any run off from that site runs underneath the highway into Mororo Creek and Mororo Reserve. This was not addressed by anyone at the meeting."

* “Adam did talk about a new corridor being constructed under the highway for koalas to travel from one side of the highway to another however nothing about the current corridor which currently opens up onto the prepared site of the batch plant. He did not state the new corridor would be completed prior to proposed operation of the batch plant. Has anyone informed the Koalas?”

* “No answers were forthcoming from any speaker that addressed the dangers to the public, only that studies were currently underway. They had no plans in place to protect the safety of local road users.”

It appears that this meeting was at times quite testy with Gulaptis alternating between being quite defensive or argumentative, however it has resulted in a promise on the part of Roads and Maritime Services of a second extension to the formal submission period. With a date yet to be fixed.

Unfortunately what appears to have also been admitted is that because there are not one but two seperate plants that will be operating on the site, the number of construction vehicle movement is higher than previously disclosed.

For those interested, here is a link to the audio of this meeting:

At 43:11mins a Woombah resident living close to the proposed site with her husband who has Stage 4 lung cancer spoke of lack of available information, questioned air quality and any effect this may have on her husband's quality of life. 


Another concerned Woombah resident’s opinion of the 14 July community meeting:

“From the outset it was clear the community who had gathered in the park yesterday, wouldn't receive the answers they deserved to the questions they had asked.  Chris Gulpatis was keen to tell the crowd just how much money his government was spending.   I suspect we were meant to feel grateful for all the government is doing for us but isn't this their job? Chris explained he had had a briefing on the plant the other day and thought it all looked pretty good.  He qualified this with not being a resident of Woombah or Iluka, nor an engineer, he also wasn't familiar with the process.  Hey hold on Chris why didn't you make yourself familiar about this?  You knew you were coming to a meeting with your constituents who were concerned?....

The first resident to ask a question was about the traffic and the number of vehicles we could expect.  The documentation had these numbers as being different and residents were clearly confused.  They were told there would be around 300 vehicle movements on the days when the plant was working at peak but that there were other truck movements to expect and so the number was more like 500.  There was a quick sorry but that was the nature of the business. 

When asked about contingency plans for peak holiday periods like Christmas, was there a plan for managing this? We were told that up and down the highway there were severe guidelines in place with their contractors designed to manage their movements on the highway during holiday periods and that has been in place for many years.  So how come the pretty graph you have given us shows peak truck movements in January next year as the bitumen plant ramps up their production?  Aren't you contradicting yourself Bob?

Next we heard from a resident living in Banana Road with specialist interest in wildlife.  He asked about the large koala corridor that comes out at the access point of the proposed bitumen plant.  The response to this was rather amusing from Bob as he started he started to tell him about the koala corridor, the resident was quick to say I know about this too Bob.  He asked what happens here with this corridor where we have koalas using this corridor all the time and coming out at Mororo Creek Reserve.  He informed Bob the UNSW had been working in the area for the last four years and they had found endangered species including the golden headed python and sugar gliders.  His question was how do you address this?  Bob reminded us of his long experience and general experience of building roads on the highway and that he had come across this before.  He was asked where was this information for the public to consider when undertaking their consultation.  There was no reply to this question.

The next question was about the traffic flow asking about the high numbers of trucks in January - was this a mistake in the projections being put forward as it was a peak period for tourism in the area during this holiday period.  His answer to this questions was rather confusing and he just restated his earlier advice that there were strict guidelines in place for contractors……

The next resident summed it up eloquently, the community were concerned, they were worried the plant would affect their health.  Full stop.  Another resident who worked for WIRES said he was pretty pissed off as he had released a number of rescued animals into the area of the plant.  When asked about how odour would be contained on the site the team looked worried.  Bob took the question saying odour was an interesting one because it was all about smell.... yes Bob we know!  The question he suggested we needed to think about was - was it harmful to someone or was it an inconvenience to someone, he said he couldn't answer this one, the crowd suggested they could!

One of the residents closest to the plant had a couple of questions regarding due process.  She had bought there just two years ago and had done due diligence of all the searches possible.  She knew the road works were coming and was grateful for that.  The only thing that turned up in her searches was the compound across the road.  She asked why if you know there is bitumen required for the road why couldn't I find such information.  A year ago someone from the consortium had turned up at her property unannounced to say they were renting some land for raw materials as a depot or stockpile.  Moving on a year later they get a letter box drop saying feedback was being sought with a week to do this.  When attending the information session last Wednesday she asked where was the report about air quality?  She was told this wasn't available for two weeks.  She asked this because as one of her major concerns is about this as her husband is dying from Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  She couldn't understand how this information wasn't available within the timeframe of the consultation.  She appealed directly to Chris asking him "what can you do for my husband?  We bought here because of the zoning, because of how it protects wildlife, for the environment, we have no chance to sell our property.  A) because they don't have the energy, B) because they would lose money and my husband's dying days is going to be what no one here seems to be able to tell me what he will be breathing in, what he will smell and how its going to impact on his quality of life and his quality of death"….

Do the residents of Woombah feel they have been listened to?  I don't think so.  One woman expressed just that before the consultation was wound up. She was upset because she didn't feel like we had been listened to and most people in the audience felt the same way.

At the end there was a little concession – let’s extend the consultation.  That's all well and good but when are you going to hand over the information we need upon which to make our judgements?  When exactly? "