Friday, August 05, 2016

Census 2016: Malcolm Turnbull says privacy 'absolute' in ABS survey

I am optimistic enough to accept Mr Turnbull's assurances. But a huge concern remains.  What if hackers get to the data?  They have got access to heavily secured military sites before today so I imagine the ABS would be a snack.  I have grave reservations about giving my address if it is going to be retained.  I am not one to encourage lawbreaking but I doubt that I will be participating in this deeply flawed process

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has moved to alleviate worries about the security of personal details gathered in the Census, after independent senator Nick Xenophon called for the national survey to be delayed over privacy concerns.

The compulsory survey has been under fire from privacy advocates since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced it would, for the first time, retain all the names and addresses it had collected "to enable a richer and dynamic statistical picture of Australia."

The Australian Privacy Foundation last month called on the ABS to stop using people's names for data analysis, but Mr Turnbull today said the organisation "always protects people's privacy".

"The security of their personal details is absolute and that is protected by law and by practice," he said.

"That is a given."

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull © AAP Image/Andrew Taylor Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Concerns have also been raised over the changes in completing the form, with independent Senator Nick Xenophon calling for the Government to delay the Census amid confusion over the shift to an online form.

This year Australians have the option of either filling in the Census online using a 12-digit identification number, or calling a phone hotline to request a paper copy.

However, some people who are seeking a paper form have been unable to get through on the phone line, as it struggles to keep up with the huge demand.

Census 'headed for a debacle'

Senator Xenophon, his party's Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, and independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie said the transition had been mishandled.

In a statement, Senator Xenophon said his office had received numerous complaints from people who had not been able to access the form, or had fears over being fined for not completing it.

"Right now it seems to be headed for a debacle," he said.

"The unintended main statistic from this census might be the huge number of Australians who can't complete it through no fault of their own."

Wilkie seeks assurances on fines

Mr Wilkie also issued a statement, citing a "broad feeling of confusion in the community".

"I do not doubt the importance of the Census and I commend the vast majority of ABS staff for doing the very best they can," he said.

"But the Government needs to step up and listen to the concerns in the community and provide an assurance that no one will be fined if they haven't been able to complete the census."

Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh defended the process, but called on the Government to support it.

In a statement, Dr Leigh said the Census should be a "first order issue for the Turnbull Government".

Census boss defends privacy record

Duncan Young, the head of the Census Program, told The World Today that Australians had always provided their names and addresses as part of the Census. "It's been the bread and butter of our business to protect that information," he said.

"We can assure Australians that they have legal protections, so it's illegal for us to release identifiable data to anyone, not even courts or tribunals or other government agencies.

"We have the best-practice security protections in place to protect the data."

The Census office has also carried out extensive testing of its technology to see if it can cope with demand.

It said the data required to fill out the Census was small, and should not add too much pressure on internet providers.


NO to a racist constitution

Australia's basic law should treat all Australians equally:   No special favours for one race.  Fortunately, controversial referenda are usually lost in Australia.  The 1967 "aboriginal" referendum was unopposed and functioned by REMOVING references to Aborigines.  So blacks and whites are now treated equally.  Let us not backslide

Malcolm Turnbull is facing a fresh outbreak of internal dissent over the proposal to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution before talks about the referendum on Thursday with the Labor leader, Bill Shorten.

The South Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi told Guardian Australia on Wednesday “no case had been made” for recognising Indigenous people in the constitution.

Bernardi said years of discussion about recognition had failed to yield a concrete proposal to put to a referendum and as he was a “constitutional conservative ... it’s highly unlikely I’d agree”.

Fellow Liberal senator James Paterson told Sky News on Wednesday he was yet to be convinced constitutional change was the appropriate way to proceed.

“There is no place for race in our constitution,” Paterson said. “There should be no negative references to race, there should be no positive references to race. [The constitution is] the rule book of Australia. I think there is a role for symbolism in public life but I’m yet to be convinced the constitution is the place for that.”

The new bout of restiveness has been triggered by a proposal in Western Australia. The WA branch of the Liberal party’s youth wing wants to bring forward a motion at the state conference next week calling on the federal government to oppose recognition and campaign against constitutional change.

Bernardi told Guardian Australia a binding motion such as the one envisaged in WA would go against the culture of the Liberal party but, with that said, he was not, intrinsically, a supporter of the constitutional recognition proposal.

The prime minister will meet the Labor leader on Thursday to discuss both constitutional recognition and also the marriage equality plebiscite.

Shorten has been flagging a treaty as the next logical step after recognition and a number of Indigenous leaders are no longer interested in the incremental step of recognition.

At the Garma festival over the weekend, Noel Pearson, who is on the referendum council, called for a synthesising of the treaty and constitutional reform arguments.

“If we think they are somehow separate agendas, this whole agenda will fail,” Pearson said. “My synthesis is simply that constitutional recognition provides the hook that enables agreements to be made, and a Makarratta, a national settlement, to be made.”

The Labor senator Pat Dodson, who was a co-chair of the referendum council until he decided to stand as a Labor senator in the recent election, also spoke of a post-recognition settlement. “If there is no preparedness to do that, we are all wasting our time and the tax payers have been dudded,” Dodson said.

On Wednesday the prime minister was asked whether he was worried that the middle ground on this debate was being lost, given members of the government were digging in their heels, and Labor, with the backing of some Indigenous leaders, was already pitching about the next stage.

Turnbull told reporters it was “very hard” to change the constitution. He said he “earnestly” sought to achieve constitutional recognition.

“But there are some important steps that need to be achieved,” the prime minister said.

“Firstly, there needs to be agreement coming from the [referendum] council as to what language they would propose to put into the constitution and then we have to be satisfied, as I believe as all of us are in the parliament, people of goodwill be satisfied, that that language is language that meets the purpose, and of course is capable of winning support in the referendum.

“It is a very, very difficult business. Changing our constitution has proved very challenging and we shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty but we are committed to doing it, but we have to make the first step is to see the proposed language, proposed amendments from the council.”

The referendum council meets again next week.


Bill Leak cartoon in The Australian an attack on Aboriginal people, Indigenous leader says

A political cartoon portraying an Aboriginal man with a beer can and not remembering his son's name is an "attack" on Indigenous Australians, a community leader says.

The cartoon by Bill Leak was published by The Australian newspaper on Thursday, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency chief executive Muriel Bamblett said it depicted Aboriginal people as "not knowing about their children and not having any role in raising their children".

"You feel quite oppressed when these things happen, I think that we everyday have to battle with direct racism and indirect racism," she told 774 ABC Melbourne.

"In the media, I think they have a public responsibility. That's obviously one of the opportunities to get good messaging about Aboriginal people.

"But if you're constantly stereotyping us as second class then it's about profiling us as second-class citizens in our own country."

Ms Bamblett said she would speak with outgoing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda about the cartoon.

"I'm going to ring Mick Gooda later today ... and talk to him about how we can actually take some action to stop this kind of constant attack on Aboriginal people because most Australians would not condone that," she said.

The Australian's editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker defended the paper's decision to publish the "confronting" cartoon.

He cited comments made by Indigenous leaders this week, including Noel Pearson on Lateline who said: "Blackfellas have got to take charge and take responsibility for their own children. That part of the message really struggles to get traction."

"The Australian is proud of its long-standing and detailed contribution to our national debate over the crucial issues in Indigenous affairs," Whittaker said in a statement.

"The current controversy over juvenile detention in the Northern Territory has lifted these matters to the forefront of national attention again.

"Too often, too many people skirt around the root causes and tough issues. But not everyone. Bill Leak's confronting and insightful cartoons force people to examine the core issues in a way that sometimes reporting and analysis can fail to do."
Cartoon 'discriminatory and racist'

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council said the cartoon was racist and has filed a complaint with the Australian Press Council.

"It was absolutely disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. I can't believe The Australian, a national newspaper, would be so insulting to us as Aboriginal people," the council's chairman Roy Ah-See said.

Mr Ah-See said while the paper had published many strong Indigenous affairs stories, the cartoon went too far.


Trainee teachers flunk mandatory literacy and numeracy tests

HUNDREDS of student teachers have flunked basic literacy and numeracy tests required to graduate and work in school classrooms.

The two hour mandatory tests show between 5.5 per cent and 6.9 per cent of graduates cannot read or write well enough to teach despite spending up to four years studying at university. Those who fail to pass will have to resit the tests.

About 265 trainee teachers — one in 14 — failed to pass the numeracy test and 210 — one in 18 — failed to correctly answer the literacy questions, data released by the Federal Government shows.

Student teachers marked with a fail did not meet a standard which included questions about working out percentages, spelling frequently used words and identifying common grammatical mistakes.

The strict new standards have been imposed on trainee teachers as Naplan scores have flatlined and writing scores for students in the early years of high school plummeted over the last five years despite record government spending on education.

In pilot tests last year 500 of 5000 university students did not make the grade, the results suggesting thousands of new teachers are fronting classrooms without the proper skills to teach.

The tests aimed at ensuring future teachers have literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30 per cent of the adult population have been rolled out nationally in a bid to arrest Australia’s slide down the international rankings.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday said 94.5 per cent of candidates in this year’s tests — conducted in May and June — met the standard for literacy and 93.1 per cent reached the numeracy benchmark.

“Families rightly expect their children to get the best possible education from teachers with the best possible skills … no new graduate should be registered to teach without meeting these standards,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Australians want to know that school students are learning from teachers with strong personal literacy and numeracy skills.

Sen Birmingham said the results — better than last year’s trial tests which up to 10 per cent of student teachers failed — were “extremely encouraging”.

“Today’s results are an improvement on the voluntary trial that was run last year and show through this laser focus on literacy and numeracy that our new teachers are graduating with better skills,” he said.

President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education Professor Tania Aspland said the “right mix of both personal and academic traits” was needed to make great teachers.

“This is why universities use a variety of means, not only academic scores, to select teacher education students,” she said.

“We also work hard to ensure our students can combine theory with strong practical school experiences during their studies.”

The test data shows that Victoria and NSW have the most students who have completed or registered to sit the test but hundreds of trainee teachers in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland still have to comply.

The tests were a key recommendation of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group and have been endorsed by all state and territory education ministers.


One Nation's Malcolm Roberts vows to halt 'ridiculous lies' on climate change

Roberts wins second seat in Queensland for Pauline Hanson’s party and calls for government to abandon all policies that aim to reduce greenhouse gases.  A big moan from the Guardian below

On the day the government moved to save 15 of 35 climate science positions planned to be cut at the CSIRO, the Senate election results in Queensland showed One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts had won a second seat for the party in that state.

He stood in front of the media and denounced the government for taking part in an international climate change conspiracy and called for all policies that aim to reduce greenhouse gases to be abandoned.

Roberts is the “project leader” of a group called the Galileo Movement. It launched in 2011, with the aim of exposing what its leaders described as the “political fabrication of global warming alarm”.

He claimed in 2012 in an interview with Fairfax Media that climate science is controlled “by some of the major banking families in the world” who collude “in a tight-knit cabal with the United Nations”.

Those comments were one step too far even for News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt, who himself has argued that climate change is all a big conspiracy.

But now, elected to federal parliament, Roberts did not shy away from this statement.

“I’ve done a lot of research into climate,” he said at a media conference on Thursday. “I went looking into the agencies that have been spreading the climate science. I started finding out things about the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology. That led me then to the UN, which has been driving this. Then I started following the money trails.”

He went on to explain that they could be traced back to a few families who are making “trillions” of dollars.

When One Nation announced its policies for this year’s election, an attack on climate science was strangely prominent.

Alongside a “royal commission to determine if Islam is a religion or political ideology” the party has also called for “a royal commission (or similar) into the corruption of climate science”.

“Climate change should not be about making money for a lot of people and giving scientists money,” the party’s website says.

This renewed focus on climate change had the fingerprints of Malcolm Roberts all over it.

Roberts says he is a scientist (he has a mining engineering degree) and that the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology are no longer involved in science, since he says there is nothing to support the climate science they do. “All we need to do is stop these ridiculous lies based on climate,” he said.

Whether Roberts will have any impact on the functioning of the new parliament is not yet clear. But he said he has been called by both Malcolm Turnbull and attorney general, George Brandis.

“They offered their congratulations and then said they would make sure they would get the resources to us so we could do our jobs,” he said.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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