Friday, 5 June 2020

Job losses in the NSW Northern Rivers region due to COVID-19 pandemic

In the December quarter of 2019 the NSW Northern Rivers region had a labour force population of est. 144,083 people across seven local government areas.

The unemployment rate varied in council areas from 3% (Ballina) up to 6.4% (Clarence Valley). 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics by April 2020 job vacancies had fallen by 50% in NSW and the state unemployment rate was 6%. Of those with employment 14% were classed as underemployed.

Job Losses In Northern Rivers Region Due To COVID-19 from 14 March 2020 to 2 May 2020 according to Australian Development Strategies

Page electorate - est. 4,581 jobs

Richmond electorate - est. 5,217 jobs

These figures indicate that an est. 16% of jobs no longer existed in the Northern Rivers region after COVID-19 public health measures were imposed.

It is not known how many businesses are receiving the JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight for workers they have retained to date.


Australian Electoral Commission states:

  • Page covers an area from Sapphire Beach in the south to Nimbin in the north on the coastal side, and from Nymboida in the south to the Queensland border on the inland side. The main towns include Casino, Dunoon, Evans Head, Grafton, Iluka, Kyogle, Lismore, Nimbin, Sapphire Beach and Wooli.  
  • Richmond covers an area from the New South Wales/Queensland border in the north to Ballina and Pimlico in the south. The main towns include Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Burringbar, Byron Bay, Hastings Point, Kingscliff, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah, Suffolk Park, and Tweed Heads. 

When will Liberal Party politicians remember that they are so easily fact checked?

Actually the origins of the G7 were established during 15-17 November 1975 as the Group of Six - about 38 days before Sharma was born. 

Sharma was around 351 days old when Canada joined this group and it became the Group of Seven (G7). 

At that time Dave Sharma was still in nappies and his vocabulary was probably confined to simple versions of 'mum' and 'dad'. 

He would have recognised his own name but definitely wan't reading the morning newsaper or watching the evening news.

The man's a fool.

Where does the Liberal Pary dredge such people up?

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Like most political bullies 'Scotty From Marketing' Morrison runs away when he is publicly caught out

Crikey inq, 1 June 2020

Crikey inq, 1 June 2020: 

It’s been a while since Australian politics saw an act as gutless as Scott Morrison’s on Friday. 

Mere minutes after the prime minister finished another of his interminable post-national cabinet monologues and walked away from journalists, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert issued a media release revealing one of the most expensive backflips in Commonwealth history. The government would repay at least $720 million in fake debts it had “raised” against welfare recipients under the now discredited robodebt scheme. 

 At a media conference conveniently on the Gold Coast, rather than before the same journalists Morrison had just walked out on, Robert tried to claim he’d moved quickly to address the scheme’s flaws: “the information presented to me saw a change in November, I acted swiftly on behalf of the government to pause debt recovery and to refine the system.” 

Robert refused to apologise to the 373,000 victims (at a minimum) of the scheme. Christian Porter, appearing on the ABC yesterday, also refused to apologise. Both at least fronted the cameras. 

Scott Morrison ran away. 


This was Scott Morrison’s scheme, one he — the former social services minister — proudly boasted about as treasurer in the 2016 election campaign, claiming it would pump billions into the budget bottom line. 

Now it’s fodder for a Friday afternoon garbage dump, with junior ministers sent out to publicly eat the shit sandwich. 

It’s unlikely the scheme will ever generate a single cent of additional revenue, given the repayment, the likely compensation, the legal costs associated with a number of cases, and the extraordinary costs of implementing the supposedly automated scheme, including the siccing of debt collectors onto innocent welfare recipients. 

Morrison and his colleagues, and the Social Services public servants who devised and implemented the scheme, will be hoping to avoid accountability for the debacle, which goes back to a single fact: there was always a serious question mark over the legality of the mechanism at the heart of robodebt, income averaging. 

The government gave up pretending income averaging was lawful last November, just before settling the case brought by Deanna Amato in the Federal Court. 

Robert is trying to pretend that that was when the penny dropped about income averaging, and the government is refusing to say how long it knew about the lack of a legal basis for its flagship savings measure. 

As is now well documented, however, the lack of a lawful basis was clear from early on. 

Social security law expert Matthew Butt raised serious questions about the legality of income averaging in early 2017, noting the limitations on its use under legislation and that Human Services’ own guidelines recommend that averaging be used selectively. 

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) member Terry Carney found that there was no legal basis for the debts raised at the same time, in decisions the government declined to appeal. The government instead dumped Carney from the tribunal while it stacked it with former Coalition MPs, staffers and party members. ....

Why did public servants prepare and implement a scheme they knew had a strong chance of being found unlawful? Was legal advice sought? Or did Social Services, like the Department of Health in the sports rorts scandal, refuse to obtain legal advice it knew would show there was no legal basis for the proposed actions? 

The financial cost of the debacle is only one aspect. Robodebt needlessly inflicted misery and anxiety of hundreds of thousands of Australians. The number of suicides caused by the receipt of automatically generated debt letters is unlikely to ever be known. 

Throughout, the bureaucrats involved have sought to stymie or evade accountability. In the most recent round of Senate estimates hearings, departmental officials like Social Services secretary Kathryn Campbell refused to provide basic information, like the number of victims of income averaging, to a Senate committee. 

Similar obfuscation is likely to be used against attempts by the Senate to establish the crucial issue of how much Social Services knew about the unlawfulness of income averaging when the scheme was crafted in 2015, what advice was sought and what was communicated to the minister.....

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

For years Facebook Inc. has known that its algorithms encourage and amplify antisocial behaviour like hate speech and extreme political bias

It seems that Facebook Inc. executives shut down efforts to make the site less divisive - because social and political division was increasing company profits by keeping certain categories of users engaged.

One has to wonder to what degree the company's decades of fostering poisonous online comment has contributed to the chaos that is American society in 2020.

Business Insider, 29 May 2020:
  • For years, Facebook has known that its algorithms encourage and amplify antisocial behaviour like hate speech and extreme political bias to keep users engaged, according to company documents reported in The Wall Street Journal.
  • When given proposals to make the platform better, executives often balked. They didn’t want to offend bad actors, and they didn’t want to release their hold on people’s attention. At Facebook attention equals money. 
  • So Facebook’s algorithms have been allowed to continue being sociopaths – pushing divisive content and exploiting people’s visceral reactions without a thought for the consequences or any remorse for their actions. 
  • Meanwhile, by letting bad actors on the platform do their thing, Facebook is feeding an inherent political bias into the algorithms themselves, and the company at large.
Facebook has always claimed that its mission is to bring people together, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal laid bare what many have suspected for some time: Its algorithms encourage and amplify harmful, antisocial behaviour for money. 

In other words, Facebook’s algorithms are by nature sociopaths. And company executives have been OK with that for some time. 

Here’s what we learned from Jeff Horowitz and Deepa Seetharaman at The Journal
  • A 2016 internal Facebook report showed “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools.” 
  • A 2018 internal report found that Facebook’s “algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness” and warned that if left unchecked they would simply get nastier and nastier to attract more attention. 
  • An internal review also found that algorithms were amplifying users that spent 20 hours on the platform and posted the most inflammatory content (users that may not be people at all, but rather Russian bots, for example). 
  • Facebook executives, especially Mark Zuckerberg, time and time again ignored or watered down recommendations to fix these problems. Executives were afraid of looking biased against Republicans – who, according to internal reports, were posting the highest volume of antisocial content. 
  • And of course executives had to protect the company’s moneymaking, attention-seeking, antisocial algorithms – regardless of the damage they may be doing in society as a whole. Politics played into that as well. 
People who suffer from antisocial personality disorder – known in popular culture as “sociopaths” – engage in harmful, deceptive behaviour without regard for social norms. Sometimes this is done with superficial charm; other times this is done with violence and intimidation. These people never feel remorse for their behaviour, nor do they consider its long-term consequences. 

This is how Facebook’s algorithms behave. It’s how they hold on to users’ attention and how, ultimately, the company makes money. 

This runs contrary to what the company has been telling us about itself. After the bad rap it developed in the wake of the 2016 election, executives and the company’s marketing machine were telling us that Facebook was both financially and culturally committed to encouraging pro-social behaviour on the platform by doing things like removing violence and hate speech, making sure conspiracy theories and lies didn’t go viral, and cracking down on opioid sales. 

Now we know that that commitment was limited. Facebook would not kill the algorithms that laid the golden eggs despite their bias against these goals, or even clip their wings for that matter.....

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

For years mainstream media have used a presence on the Facebook platform as an easy way to extend digital audience reach. What could possibly go wrong?

There are reputedly est. 15 to 16 million Australians with active Facebook accounts and many in the mainstream media avails themselves of the digital audience this represents by maintaining their own Facebook pages on which they publish newspaper articles with an accompanying comment, image and headline.

News Corp and Nine just found out the hard way that having unmoderated Facebook pages is never a wise choice.

In July 2017 then 20 year-old Dylan Voller commenced defamation proceedings against three media companies owned by News Corp and Nine Entertainment.

This is a news article abot the third and most recent judgment rendered in the ongoing legal saga.....

ABC News, 1 June 2020:

Three Australian media outlets have lost an appeal about a key ruling holding them responsible for the alleged defamation on Facebook of former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre detainee Dylan Voller. 

The 23-year-old is suing Fairfax Media — now owned by Nine Entertainment — Nationwide News and Sky News over comments posted by members of the public in response to articles they placed on their Facebook pages. 

Last year, a New South Wales Supreme Court judge ruled the media companies were publishers of the comments — and therefore liable for them — and the media companies appealed. 

The NSW Court of Appeal today dismissed the challenge and said it was clear the relevant Facebook pages were created on the basis users would be invited to post comments. 

Justices John Basten, Anthony Meagher and Carolyn Simpson said the organisations "accepted responsibility for the use of their Facebook facilities for the publication of comments, including defamatory comments".  
"It was the applicants who provided the vehicle for publication to those who availed themselves of it," they wrote in the judgment. 

'Turning a blind eye' no defence 

The judges said it was not uncommon for someone to be held liable for publishing defamatory imputations conveyed by "matter composed by another person". 

They drew parallels to cases where the owners or occupiers of buildings had been taken to court over defamatory statements on noticeboards or scrawled in graffiti. 

The court is yet to tackle the question of whether the material in question was defamatory. 

In his initial decision last year, Justice Stephen Rothman said defendants could not escape consequences of their actions by "turning a blind eye". 

He also ruled the defence of innocent dissemination was not available because the defendants were first or primary distributors. 

Mr Voller's statement of claim alleges he was defamed by imputations including that he had "brutally bashed a Salvation Army Officer", had raped an elderly woman, that he committed a carjacking and that he had bitten off someone's ear. 

The comments were posted between July 2016 and June 2017 on pages run by the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Sky News, The Bolt Report and The Centralian Advocate. 

Mr Voller's treatment at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which was the subject of an ABC Four Corners investigation in 2016, sparked a royal commission into youth detention facilities.

The judgment in Fairfax Media Publications; Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Voller [2020] NSWCA 102 dismissed the appeal, ordered the applicants pay the respondent’s costs in the appeal proceedings and dismissed the notice of motion of Bauer Media Pty Ltd, Australia Pty Ltd and Seven West Media Ltd filed on 23 August 2019 (the latter three media companies having sought leave to appear as amici curiae in the proceedings).