Australasia

Let’s face it, we’ll be no safer with a national facial recognition database

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A commitment to share the biometric data of most Australians – including your driving licence photo – agreed at Thursday’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will result in a further erosion of our privacy. That sharing is not necessary. It will be costly. Bruce Baer Arnold The Conversation But will it save us from terrorism? Not all, although it will give people a false sense of comfort. Importantly, it will allow politicians and officials to show that they are ... Read More »

Locking up 10-year-olds without trial barbaric, says human rights group

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The revelation that under new laws 10-year-olds could be held without charge for a fortnight shows politicians are badly failing to defend freedom while claiming to uphold it. In making this comment today, the president of the human rights group Liberty Victoria, Jessie Taylor, joined the Law Council of Australia and others in condemning this decision by federal, state and territory leaders. Justice Minister Michael Keenan says police have no powers to act against an 11-year-old would-be terrorist. Said Ms ... Read More »

Government risks over reach on tougher national security laws

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While, at first glance, uploading all of Australia’s drivers licence photos into a central data base in the name of national security seems logical, it is not without some serious… Editorial The Canberra Times The worst is the obvious potential for “big brother” style surveillance of individuals who may not represent threats to the safety of the realm through the rapidly growing national network of CCTV cameras in shopping centres, on streets and… Critics, including members of the Australian Privacy ... Read More »

LCA calls for funding to support lawyers’ ‘staggering’ pro bono efforts

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The millions of free hours lawyers across the country have dedicated to everyday people during their time of greatest need have been lauded by the Law Council of Australia Melissa Coade Lawyers Weekly “Staggering” is how the Law Council of Australia (LCA) has described 2.86 million free hours provided by lawyers since 2007. Responding to a new report published by the Australian Pro Bono Centre, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC said that contributions of such scale were unique to the ... Read More »

Miners leave themselves open to corruption, report finds

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US President Donald Trump described it as “draining the swamp”, a political promise he made to rid business and politics of deep-seated bribery and… Adele Ferguson The Sydney Morning Herald It could equally be applied to Australia, which has had its fair share of scandals and political capture in the past few… But understanding where the risks lie can be a useful first step in tackling the problem. Following a string of mining scandals, Australia’s biggest mining states Western Australia and ... Read More »

Helping someone die well is the final act of caring I can give as a doctor

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Supporting assisted dying takes nothing away from anyone, but provides enormous comfort to a very small group of people Nick Carr The Guardian Claire and Bob have been together so long it’s impossible to imagine one without the other. He’s a walking – well, waddling – textbook of modern medicine. With his impressive girth, arthritic hips, diabetes, hypertension and gout, I get to see a lot of Bob. So it was unusual when it was Claire who presented with some ... Read More »

How Tasmanians have four times more power than voters in NSW and Victoria

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There’s a creeping disparity in Australia’s democracy that gets surprisingly little attention Population growth patterns mean votes cast in our biggest states are becoming less potent at the federal level compared to votes cast in smaller states. Matt Wade Analysis by economist Terry Rawnsley of how many federal members of parliament there are per person in each state has underscored the discrepancy. The Canberra Times In Tasmania, the smallest state, there are just over 30,000 people for each federal seat ... Read More »

Here’s why you may not be able to bypass paywalls through web search anymore

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The era of using a Google search to bypass a news website’s paywall may be coming to an end Google has announced that subscription news websites will no longer have to provide users three free articles per day under its ‘Google first click free… ABC The move has been welcomed by media giants such as News Corp, which have paywalls in place and have long complained that the policy essentially forced them to give their content away for free if ... Read More »

We should beware of ceding tobacco to the criminals

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No one who has watched a loved relative die of a smoking-induced disease will have much sympathy for the tobacco industry To see someone with emphysema fighting for every breath, or to watch the painful decline of someone with lung cancer – these are harsh lessons that change lives. Editorial The Sydney Morning Herald Smoking doesn’t just kill; it kills with pain, horror and indignity. Many people will thus understand and sympathise immediately with Andrew Forrest’s new anti-smoking campaign, intended ... Read More »

Stonnington council suspends staff after tracking them via phone records

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A Melbourne council is using mobile phone records to monitor its staff, sparking a bitter workplace dispute over “Orwellian surveillance” that could have implications for anyone using a phone provided by their employer. Cameron Houston and Chris Vedelago The Age City of Stonnington recently suspended four enforcement officers who it accuses of rorting ratepayers by claiming to have been at work, when phone records indicated they were outside the… The officers could face dismissal if the allegations are upheld. Three of ... Read More »

Why didn’t I blow the whistle on harassment? Because I knew I’d never work again

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There seems to be one resounding question surrounding the controversial dismissal of Channel Seven Adelaide cadet reporter Amy Taeuber​, who was allegedly sacked after she made a complaint of sexual harassment, and that is: “How can this still be happening?” Wendy Squires The Canberra Times Well, I have an answer that comes in the form of another question, and that is: “How aren’t we hearing about instances like this more?” Because, in my near-on 30 years in the media, not only have ... Read More »

US 45,000 refugee cap includes Aust intake

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The Trump Administration’s new 45,000 cap on refugees will include people resettled in the US under a deal struck with Australia This week more than 50 refugees who had been in limbo for years Manus Island and Nauru departed for a new life in the US. Lisa Martin, Australian Associated Press Herald Sun Up to 1250 refugees are expected to be resettled in the US. The US resettlement agreement was the subject of a heated phone call between Donald Trump ... Read More »

Diesel cars help drive Australia’s energy emissions to highest level, report shows

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Exclusive Australia’s love affair with diesel cars has helped push the nation’s energy emissions to a record high, new analysis shows, in a warning that road transport rivals electricity as the most pressing energy challenge facing the… Nicole Hasham The Age Respected energy analyst Hugh Saddler compiled the disturbing report on behalf of progressive think tank The Australia… Dr Saddler said the failure of successive governments to invest in efficient transport infrastructure, such as rail, has allowed transport fuel emissions to keep rising – ... Read More »

Manus Island: PNG authorities stop refugees leaving centre to give evidence in compensation case

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Papua New Guinea authorities have stopped two refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centre on Manus Island from travelling to Port Moresby to give evidence in the Supreme Court. By Papua New Guinea correspondent Eric Tlozek ABC Behrouz Boochani and Aziz Adam were summonsed to appear in a compensation case against the PNG Government, which was found to have illegally detained the men on Manus Island between 2013 and 2016. But security staff at the island’s airport said the men did ... Read More »

Young Australians are engaged in political issues, but unsure how democracy works

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Young Australians are engaged in political issues, but unsure how democracy works The importance of Australians having the knowledge and skills to participate as active citizens is always a prominent… Young Australians are engaged in political issues, but unsure how democracy works Zareh Ghazarian Jacqueline Laughland-Booy Zlatko Skrbis The Conversation But in the past few months, it has been at the forefront of public… Recently, the federal government announced significant changes to citizenship laws, which includes a tougher test. It ... Read More »

Australia launches $10m satellite program to help spy planes detect warships, asylum seeker boats

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Australia is building three new satellites that will conduct audio and visual surveillance for the Defence Force The Federal Government has given $10 million to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra space team to complete the project. By political reporter Stephanie Borys ABC Work on the first satellite is already underway and is scheduled for lift-off next year. The device, which is known as a Cubesat, is the size of a loaf of bread and weighs about four ... Read More »