15 September 2018

Australian politician Dave Sharma in office unlawfully under Section 44?

Is this the best the Australian people have apparently 're-presenting' them?

Section 44 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) has been read so many times in parliament that the words may have been worn out.

Thankfully they have been digitised by Austlii.



                   Any person who:

                      (i)  is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

                     (ii)  is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

                    (iii)  is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

                    (iv)  holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

                     (v)  has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

                   But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen's Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen's navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth. 

Does this apply to this fella?

Another whistleblower cop exposes police corruption

From 11 Sep 2018 by theguardian.com of the headline:

Evidence against former police officer ‘intentionally’ tampered with, court told

Exclusive: Charge against Paul Carney, who left police after raising concerns about alleged corruption, dropped after ombudsman ordered investigation

Whistleblower Paul Carney claims Queensland police pursued charges against him as a reprisal. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Evidence against a former Gold Coast police officer whistleblower was allegedly “intentionally” tampered with, a court was told, amid claims that Queensland police pursued a charge against him as a reprisal.

Paul Carney medically retired from the police service in 2010 after raising concerns about alleged corrupt practices. He subsequently started a website critical of particular police officers and launched a civil court case.

In 2015, Carney had a verbal altercation at a Brisbane pool with a former colleague, who he had criticised on the website. Carney says it was a chance encounter. Police charged him with stalking with violence.

Before Carney’s trial, the commonwealth ombudsman ordered an investigation into potential tampering with CCTV video footage from the pool that was used as evidence against Carney.

Paul Carney: ‘I’ve been through absolute hell these past three years.’ Photograph: Paul Carney/Supplied

When Carney turned up to court in August, he was told the Queensland office of the director of public prosecutions had lodged a “nolle prosequi” notice, indicating they were abandoning the charge.

“I’ve been through absolute hell these past three years,” Carney told Guardian Australia. “There was never any evidence to back up this charge. I have been the victim of whistleblower reprisal and some extremely duplicitous conduct by Queensland police.”

Carney, who represented himself, produced an expert report at his committal hearing casting doubt over the footage. A senior software engineer analysed the CCTV and noted several interruptions, where periods of up to eight minutes were not able to be viewed.

“It is my opinion that the corruption and/or video errors have been introduced post-copy as a result of human interaction with the file by both direct and intentional manipulation,” the report said.

“In my professional opinion, the interaction with this file post downloading/copying to external media could reasonably be considered a tampering event.”

Carney also made submissions to the court that statements made against him were “fabricated” and the result of “collusion”.

A visit to the pool
On his website, which remains live, Carney details his history with the Queensland police. He worked on the Gold Coast until 2010, until “my health was wrecked and upon medical advice [I] medically retired.”

In 2015, Carney was preparing a civil case against police. He said he would drive up to Brisbane regularly to file court documents and on 29 August stopped at the Yeronga Park pool to do laps.

Carney told the court he had been in the water for 20 minutes when he noticed Stephen Illidge, an officer he had worked with on the Gold Coast, who had since joined the Australian federal police. Illidge was at the pool with his children.

CCTV footage of a verbal altercation between the men shows Carney in the pool and Illidge standing at the pool edge. There is no dispute a verbal exchange took place. Carney said he shouted at Illidge to stay away from his belongings and called him corrupt. Witnesses said Carney used the word “cunt” repeatedly.

In a subsequent triple-0 call to police, heard by Guardian Australia and tendered into Court as evidence, Illidge starts by explaining to the operator that Carney has a civil case against the police.

“He’s made threats and he’s got a website that’s defaming the current QPS commissioner and other police, including myself, because I’m related to high-ranking Queensland police still.

“I’ve reported it all through the AFP hierarchy that I’ve got concerns ... that he’s fixating on me. So I’ve just walked in with my kids to take them to a swimming lesson and he’s just gone for me from the pool.

“I’ve really got concerns about him that he now knows where I am to follow me home or something like that.”

Illidge said in the call there had been no physical altercation. The court did not make any findings as to the allegations made by Illidge in the course of the triple-0 call.

Several months later, and three days before his civil case was due to start, Carney was charged with stalking with violence.

‘A series of irrelevant events’
Carney wrote to the AFP, the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission, the police ethical standards command, and the officer in charge of the local station to complain the charges against him were reprisals.

In 2017 Carney also wrote to a lawyer from the office of the director of public prosecutions, to say that pursuing the case against him was “entertaining a whistleblower reprisal”.

“Your prosecution is not a prima facie case, but a somewhat fabricated series of irrelevant events with no connecting nexus.”

Carney maintains the encounter with Illidge was coincidental and the suggestions he had engaged in stalking, or ever deliberately sought out Illidge, were baseless.

“They all dismissed my complaints,” he said. “Police acted solely on what Illidge told them throughout and blatantly ignored me.”

Both the Queensland police and the Queensland office of the director of public prosecutions would not comment.

14 September 2018

Australia's new police state laws banning travel open to abuse in breach of Section 92?

Think it can't get any worse travelling between the colonies, well you're in for a surprise.

Those pesky people who invented the constitution in Australia, made it difficult for some MPs to be in office lawfully, under what the plebs are now aware of as Section 44.

To make things worse the numbers go all the way up to 128, where section 127 has a bit of liquid paper on it

Why couldn't they just stick with "do no harm", where life so much easier in the 'good ol' days' prior to this pesky occurrence called civilisation or something that has a bit more of a corporate slang like Civil CIVIC COMPLIANCE VICTORIA (ABN: 97 103 604 897)

Some plebs just recently became aware of Section 92 (via social media, of course), and get that wrong, and now even more pesky plebs are going to be aware of this section which talks about intercourse (no, not sexual silly) and get that wrong as well.

Thankfully we have the honest High Court of Australia to interpret Section 92 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK), for those who may want to get there as their final destination.

See article from 12 September 2018 by brisbanetimes.com.au of the headline:

Fines or imprisonment for travellers if they do not comply with new police powers at airports

Travellers could face fines of up to $4200 or imprisonment if they do not comply with new police powers to request identification at Australian airports, eject people from the premises and ban them from flights.

Under legislation introduced to Parliament by the Morrison government on Tuesday, police will be able to carry out identity checks when they suspect people are involved in criminal activity that poses a threat to the public.

Police will be able to issue a "move on" direction if someone refuses to cooperate or if they believe it will disrupt an imminent security threat. The person can also be banned from entering airports for 24 hours.

There will be boosted security at Australian airports. Photo: Justin McManus

“Police at our airports are highly trained in behavioural analysis and threat assessments. However, they don’t currently have the power to check ID unless they can link behaviour to a specific offence,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement.

“The proposed powers are commensurate with aviation security threats and will help our police protect the Australian community."

If people do not cooperate with police orders, they face fines of up to $4200 under the Crimes Act. They could also be imprisoned for up to 12 months if they provide misleading information or for up to two years if they are deemed to be obstructing a Commonwealth official.

Government identity documents or other personal identity cards and documents can be used by travellers when they face an identity check by police. If they do not have any documentation, they can provide their name and other details.

The government believes the current laws – which place a stricter limit on authorities' ability to conduct identity checks at major airports – are outdated given the increased terror threat.

Explanatory information provided with the legislation says, "Without specific intelligence that an offence has been, is being, or will be committed, AFP officers have reported that, under the current framework, they are unable to assess potential threats within airports by directing a person to provide evidence of their identity."

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Labor would examine the legislation closely and come to a position in due course.

"We expect this bill to be thoroughly examined through the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security," Mr Dreyfus said.

Greens senator Nick McKim said Mr Dutton was "attacking the basic rights of every Australian to distract from the multiple scandals he’s involved in".

Senator McKim warned the Home Affairs Minister could not be trusted with law enforcement agencies in his ministry and called on Labor to oppose the legislation.

“There is no justification for this ‘papers please’ policy," he said.

“This adds to the over 200 legislative changes over the last 20 years which remove fundamental rights and freedoms from Australian people.”

The laws are in addition to a $300 million expansion of security at Australian airports, including the introduction of advanced X-ray and body scanning machines.

End of article by brisbanetimes.com.au

See what the ALRC (Australian Law Reform Commission) states on Section 92 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK).

Protections from statutory encroachment

Australian Constitution

5.9          Section  92 of the Australian Constitution provides:
On the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.[6]
5.10       In Gratwick v Johnson (1945), Starke J said that the ‘people of Australia are thus free to pass to and from among the states without burden, hindrance or restriction’.[7] However, in Cole v Whitfield (1988), the High Court said that this does not mean that ‘every form of intercourse must be left without any restriction or regulation in order to satisfy the guarantee of freedom’.[8]
For example, although personal movement across a border cannot, generally speaking, be impeded, it is legitimate to restrict a pedestrian’s use of a highway for the purpose of his crossing or to authorize the arrest of a fugitive offender from one State at the moment of his departure into another State.[9]
5.11       In Cunliffe v The Commonwealth (1994), Mason CJ said that the freedom of intercourse which s 92 guarantees is not absolute:
Hence, a law which in terms applies to movement across a border and imposes a burden or restriction is invalid. But, a law which imposes an incidental burden or restriction on interstate intercourse in the course of regulating a subject-matter other than interstate intercourse would not fail if the burden or restriction was reasonably necessary for the purpose of preserving an ordered society under a system of representative government and democracy and the burden or restriction was not disproportionate to that end. Once again, it would be a matter of weighing the competing public interests.[10]
5.12       It has also been suggested that a right to freedom of movement is implied generally in the Constitution. In Miller v TCN Channel Nine (1986), Murphy J said that freedom of movement between states and ‘in and between every part of the Commonwealth’ is implied in the Constitution.[11] However, this view has not been more broadly accepted by the High Court.[12] Professors George Williams and David Hume write:
This reflects the lack of a clear textual basis for such a freedom and for the incidents of the constitutionally prescribed system of federalism which would support it, and an implicit view that the Constitution’s federalism is not intended to protect individuals.[13]
5.13       In any event, a right to freedom of movement implicit in federalism would presumably only extend to movement within Australia, rather than to a broader freedom which would include the freedom to leave and return to Australia.

Principle of legality

5.14       The principle of legality provides some protection to freedom of movement.[14] When interpreting a statute, courts will presume that Parliament did not intend to interfere with freedom of movement, unless this intention was made unambiguously clear. In Potter v Minahan (1908), O’Connor J said:
It cannot be denied that, subject to the Constitution, the Commonwealth may make such laws as it may deem necessary affecting the going and coming of members of the Australian community. But in the interpretation of those laws it must, I think, be assumed that the legislature did not intend to deprive any Australian-born member of the Australian community of the right after absence to re-enter Australia unless it has so enacted by express terms or necessary implication.[15]
5.15       Freedom of movement is an essential part of personal liberty, which is also protected by the principle of legality.[16]

International law

5.16       Freedom of movement is widely recognised in international law and bills of rights. For example, art 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides:
(1)     Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2)     Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
5.17       Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides, in part:
1.      Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.
2.      Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.
4.      No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.
5.18       International instruments cannot be used to ‘override clear and valid provisions of Australian national law’.[17] However, where a statute is ambiguous, courts will generally favour a construction that accords with Australia’s international obligations.[18]

Bills of rights

5.19       In other countries, bills of rights or human rights statutes provide some protection from statutory encroachment. Freedom of movement is protected in the United States Constitution,[19] and in the human rights statutes in Canada[20] and New Zealand.[21]
5.20       Freedom of movement is also expressly protected in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) and the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).[22] Section 12 of the Victorian Act provides:
Every person lawfully within Victoria has the right to move freely within Victoria and to enter and leave it and has the freedom to choose where to live.
[6]           The Constitution 1901 (Cth) s 92. (emphasis added)
[7]           Gratwick v Johnson (1945) 70 CLR 1, 17.
[8]           Cole v Whitfield (1988) 165 CLR 360, 393.
[9]           Ibid, 393. See also: AMS v AIF (1999) 199 CLR 160, 177–179 [40]–[45] (Gleeson CJ, McHugh & Gummow JJ).
[10]         Cunliffe v The Commonwealth (1994) 182 CLR 272, 307–308 (Mason CJ).
[11]         Miller v TCN Channel Nine (1986) 161 CLR 556, 581–582. ‘The Constitution also contains implied guarantees of freedom of speech and other communications and freedom of movement not only between the States and the States and the territories but in and between every part of the Commonwealth. Such freedoms are fundamental to a democratic society. They are necessary for the proper operation of the system of representative government at the federal level. They are also necessary for the proper operation of the Constitutions of the States (which derive their authority from Chapter V of the Constitution). They are a necessary corollary of the concept of the Commonwealth of Australia. The implication is not merely for the protection of individual freedom; it also serves a fundamental societal or public interest.’ The freedom, Williams and Hume write, is arguably ‘implicit in the system of free trade, commerce and intercourse in s 92, the protection against discrimination based on state residence in s 117 and any protection of access to the seat of government as well as in the very fact of federalism’: George Williams and David Hume, Human Rights under the Australian Constitution (OUP, 2nd ed, 2013) 120.
[12]         In Kruger v Commonwealth (1997), Brennan J said that a constitutional right to freedom of movement and association which restricts the scope of s 122 had not been held to be implied in the Constitution and ‘no textual or structural foundation for the implication has been demonstrated in this case’: Kruger v Commonwealth (1997) 190 CLR 1, 45 .
[13]         Williams and Hume, above n 11, 120.
[14]         The principle of statutory interpretation now known as the ‘principle of legality’ is discussed more generally in Ch 1.
[15]         Potter v Minahan (1908) 7 CLR 277.
[16]         See DC Pearce and RS Geddes, Statutory Interpretation in Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 8th ed, 2014) 256.
[17]         Minister for Immigration v B (2004) 219 CLR 365, 425 [171] (Kirby J).
[18]         Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273, 287 (Mason CJ and Deane J). The relevance of international law is discussed more generally in Ch 1.
[19]         United States Constitution amend IV.
[20]         Canada Act 1982 c 11, Sch B Pt 1 (’Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’) s 6(1)–(2).
[21]         Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZ) s 18.
[22]         Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 (Vic) s 12; Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) s 13.

Source:  https://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/protections-statutory-encroachment-1

12 September 2018

Moreton Bay council secretly helped mayor’s donor win $20 million deal

Australia's third-largest council handed a key contract to one of the mayor's political donors without a tender. Now, as the Crime and Corruption Commission investigates, council insiders are questioning how the deal was reached and whether some councillors were kept in the dark.

Moreton Bay Regional Council helped a financial backer of the mayor and other councillors win more than $20 million-worth of outsourced council work by giving him confidential internal financial documents and letting him write the performance criteria for the deal, council whistleblowers claim.

In May 2016, the council handed wealthy local businessman Shane Newcombe’s company Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism Ltd a three-year contract to run events and promote tourism worth almost $7 million, without a tender.

This photo of Shane Newcombe and Moreton Bay mayor Allan Sutherland at a Broncos pre-season match in Redcliffe last year was shared on Mr Newcombe's Facebook page.
Photo: Facebook

The deal with Mr Newcombe in mid-2016 led to the effective closure of the council’s events department with the loss of more than 10 jobs.

Former council staffers allege councillors voted for the deal in 2016 with at least some of them not knowing that Mr Newcombe had been given unfettered access to sensitive council documents.

Those councillors were also unaware he had been coached for a key presentation to the full council by a small group of councillors, all of whom had received financial backing from Mr Newcombe's family.
Confidential council documents handed over to donor

So many confidential documents were downloaded to give to Mr Newcombe, one former staffer said, it set off an alarm in the council’s records department.

Councillors and staff who raised questions about the lack of a competitive tender were told there was no other company that could do the work.

The contract was this year enlarged and extended - a year early - for four years, making it worth as much as $23.5 million in total, the council’s biggest single procurement.

The council has published no details of the renewed contract and has refused to respond to repeated inquiries about it.

No councillors declared conflicts of interest at the closed-session May 2016 vote. This was in spite of mayor Allan Sutherland and three other councillors having been beneficiaries during the 2016 election campaign three months earlier of a $20,000 donation by the Newcombe family to Moreton Futures Trust, a vehicle used to fund Cr Sutherland’s mayoral campaigns in the last two local elections.

The main beneficiary of the trust has been Cr Sutherland. But it also supported the electoral campaigns of councillors James Houghton, Julie Greer and Peter Flannery in 2016. It also provided $2500 to the campaign of deputy mayor Mike Charlton during the 2012 campaign, which was later repaid.

A council staffer revealed Crs Charlton and Greer were the only councillors who attended a secret meeting in early 2016 where Mr Newcombe conducted a “dry run” of a presentation on the benefits of the MBRIT deal in front of the mayor and chief executive Daryl Hitzman.

The purpose of the meeting was Mr Newcombe “getting feedback to ensure no other councillor prevented (the deal) from going through” at the subsequent formal presentation and vote, the former staffer said.

“It was very secret squirrel,” the same former staffer said.

Fairfax Media understands that key financial information showing how much the MBRIT arrangement would save council was removed from the final presentation on the instructions of Mr Hitzman.

Mr Newcombe is a director of Newcombes Holdings, the company that donated to Moreton Futures Trust and owns local car dealership Village Motors. It is controlled by Mr Newcombe’s mother, Marlene.

Cr Sutherland testified at public hearings at the Crime and Corruption Commission last year that he had been “happy not to know” who the donors to the trust were because “it’s hard to have a conflict when you don’t know who the donor is”.

But he then told the hearing: “I knew Newcombe Holdings had put money in there.”

Fairfax Media revealed last month that the CCC was investigating the circumstances surrounding the May 2018 contract renewal.

Councillors delegated that decision to Mr Hitzman after seven of them declared “perceived conflicts of interest” on the basis they were friends of Mr Newcombe or had attended his wedding the previous week.

None of the five councillors who had received financial support from Moreton Futures Trust in the 2012 or 2016 elections mentioned this at the meeting.

Questions are now being raised about the initial award of the contract in 2016, which the councillors present voted for unanimously.

Council insiders told Fairfax Media the outcome was never in doubt, saying that since at least late 2015 they had been expected to give Mr Newcombe whatever he asked for to make sure the deal went through.

“It was a done deal,” said one former staffer who had detailed knowledge of the dealings with Mr Newcombe.

“Our directions were very clear. We had to make this happen.”
Shane Newcombe was a regular visitor to Moreton Bay Regional Council

A former council manager said Mr Newcombe had attended “at least 10” meetings at council premises with Mr Hitzman and other senior officers between March and June 2016 to discuss the outsourcing of council activities and had met regularly with other staff, who he had asked to give him comprehensive information on all the events run by council.

“Shane Newcombe wanted the whole lot,” another former staffer said.

"He wanted as much detail as he could.

“What it cost us, the hire of everything, how many staff and volunteers were needed.

“The documents were to give him what he needed as quickly as possible.”

The staffer revealed that so many documents were downloaded on to USB drives to give to Mr Newcombe it triggered an alarm on the council’s computer system.

“When we downloaded the USBs we were contacted by the records department,” the staffer said.

“When you download more than four documents it shows up on their system. We had to explain what it was for and that we’d been told to do it.

“They were available on the council system but you would only look at it if it was your area. It was confidential. You would not share it with anybody.”

The staffer said Mr Newcombe had requested and been provided information that included detailed budget breakdowns of the cost of running events such as the Urban Country Music Festival, the Decades rock music event and smaller events such as annual Christmas concerts in various divisions.

The documents included detailed profit and loss statements for each event, and even invoices issued to suppliers.

“They were massive. It was everything that it cost to run those events - traffic management, food, accommodation, all the hire equipment and alcohol.”

'You do what you have to do to get it across the line'

The former manager said staff had felt under pressure because of the close relationship between Mr Newcombe and the councillors and chief executive and because the deal “was going to happen regardless”.

“We were just facilitating the outcome,” the former manager said.

“It was a culture of ‘you do what you have to do to get it across the line’.

“You did things that weren’t right but you would have been sacked if you didn’t.”

MBRIT has not staged the Urban Country Music Festival or the Decades music event since it has had the council events contract. Both were loss-making under council.

When councillors voted for the MBRIT deal, the motion included a requirement for the council to agree to a “service level agreement” with MBRIT that would govern how MBRIT was expected to perform and limit the council’s financial liability.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show that this document was authored a month after the vote - by Mr Newcombe.

An email sent by Mr Newcombe to a council staffer in June 2016 headed “SLA Draft Notes” had attached to it a detailed 20-page document titled “MBRIT Service Level Agreement”, the metadata of which shows the author was “Shane Newcombe”.

The accompanying email states: “I have put this together the best I can! I will have some time during today to look at it again … But I think it’s a good first draft to be discussed with Daryl and Stew.”

Fairfax Media understands “Daryl” is chief executive Daryl Hitzman and “Stew” is Stewart Pentland, the council’s director of planning and economic development since 2015.

The council declined to provide a copy of the service level agreement, despite repeated requests from Fairfax Media.

The former employees all said Mr Hitzman had informed staff there was no need for a competitive tender because there was only one company that could provide the services and this provided an exception to the usual tendering rules under Queensland local government regulations.

“We kept asking, doesn’t this have to go to tender?’ one of them recalled.
Council does not reveal details about the deal

Division two councillor Peter Flannery, the council’s spokesman on economic development, said councillors had accepted there would be no tender for the outsourcing project in 2016 because they had decided no one else could do the job.

“When we first gave the contract it was discussed - are there any other businesses? But nobody knew of anyone,” he said.

Cr Flannery received just under $4000 in political donations from Moreton Futures Trust in the 2016 local elections. He did not declare a conflict of interest in the votes on the MBRIT contract in 2016 or 2018.

The former staffers were unwilling to be identified for fear of recriminations, but said they would be willing to provide evidence to investigators.

The council did not answer detailed questions. A spokesman said: “Council understands that the CCC is currently investigating a complaint from a ratepayer. With an investigation under way, it’s not appropriate for council to comment further.

“Please contact us at the conclusion of the CCC’s investigation.”

Fairfax Media submitted questions separately to Cr Sutherland and each of the other 12 councillors.

Division one councillor Brooke Savige said she had no recollection of councillors being told prior to the May 2016 vote that Mr Newcombe had been given detailed council financial information to facilitate him winning the outsourcing contract.

If she had known that Mr Newcombe had authored the service level agreement, she said, “that would be something that would put up a lot of red flags for me”.

“That doesn’t sit well with me at all,” she said.

Councillor Adrian Raedel (division 12), who had previously raised concerns about the MBRIT deal, said he had not been present at the meeting to award the contract on May 17, 2016, so had not participated in the vote.

The Australian has reported Cr Raedel was the subject of an unrelated investigation by the CCC into a complaint made by Mr Hitzman regarding Cr Raedel's relationship with a donor. The CCC confirmed it was investigating a Moreton Bay councillor, without identifying who it was.

Councillor for division three, Adam Hain, said: “Haven’t our PR department given you press releases on this? I’m not going to comment to Fairfax Media on things from 2016,” before hanging up.

Other councillors did not respond to questions. Nor did Mr Newcombe.

Moreton Futures Trust came under intense scrutiny during the CCC’s Belcarra hearings into local government last year. The CCC was later critical of it and organisations like it in its report to the state government, arguing that they obscured the true sources of politicians’ financial support.

Source: brisbanetimes.com.au

Studies show having your phone around makes you dumber

EVEN just having it sitting next to you is depleting your brain cells, according to this researcher.

Our phones should definitely not be with us in bed. Source:Getty Images

IF you didn’t suspect so already, your phone is making you dumb.

And the worst part is it’s even making you more stupid when you’re not actually using it and it’s just sitting next to you.

Bond University research Libby Sander said even the presence of a mobile phone had been shown to reduce our performance on cognitive tasks.

“Studies suggest that we are so attached to our smartphones that we are constantly anticipating the arrival of a new message, social media alert or call,” she said.

“In doing so, our attention is divided and draining our brains of energy to do the work we need to focus on.”

Professor Sander studies organisational behaviour and said in one of her cases an employee told her that she counted how many times she was interrupted over the course of one morning and was shocked to note it was more than 80 times.

“Studies have shown that it takes us between 15-20 minutes to regain concentration on the task at hand after we are interrupted at work,” she said.

“Being interrupted over 80 times in a morning means we wouldn’t get much done at all.

“We like to think we can multi-task, but in fact that is a myth.

“Neuroscience researchers at MIT found that we aren’t actually paying attention to multiple things at the same time but are just switching between them.

“When subjects in multi-tasking were monitored using MRI’s, the researchers could actually see the brain struggling.”

Her comments come as Australian education experts call for a blanket ban on mobile phones in primary schools after France outlawed the devices.

The French Government banned all students under the age of 15 from using smartphones during school hours, just months after New South Wales launched an inquiry into whether Australia should follow its lead.

Currently, individual schools are allowed to set their own mobile phone guidelines in all Australian states, even though research has shown struggling students get better marks once smartphones are removed from schools.

About 89 per cent of Aussie students admit to using the devices in class.

Professor Sander said the phone issue did not just apply to cognitive tasks, with other studies showing that having the devices around reduces our ability to make close interpersonal connections, as well as interfering with our memory formation.

“To work at our best, employees need to be able to focus on a single task at a time, and to control distractions,” she said.

“Your phone is making you dumb..To get smarter, research suggests we need to put away our smartphones out of sight.”

Source: news.com.au

11 September 2018

Google to use your credit card data in a secret deal to track ad sales

An article from 31 Aug 2018 by bloomberg.com of the headline:

Google and Mastercard Cut a Secret Ad Deal to Track Retail Sales

For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for.

But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly. The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Amazon.com Inc. and others.

But the deal, which has not been previously reported, could raise broader privacy concerns about how much consumer data technology companies like Google quietly absorb.

"People don’t expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online,” said Christine Bannan, counsel with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). "There’s just far too much burden that companies place on consumers and not enough responsibility being taken by companies to inform users what they’re doing and what rights they have.”

Google paid Mastercard millions of dollars for the data, according to two people who worked on the deal, and the companies discussed sharing a portion of the ad revenue, according to one of the people. The people asked not to be identified discussing private matters. A spokeswoman for Google said there is no revenue sharing agreement with its partners.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the partnership with Mastercard, but addressed the ads tool. "Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information,” the company said in a statement. “We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners.” The company said people can opt out of ad tracking using Google’s “Web and App Activity” online console. Inside Google, multiple people raised objections that the service did not have a more obvious way for cardholders to opt out of the tracking, one of the people said.

Seth Eisen, a Mastercard spokesman, also declined to comment specifically on Google. But he said Mastercard shares transaction trends with merchants and their service providers to help them measure "the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.” The information, which includes sales volumes and average size of the purchase, is shared only with permission of the merchants, Eisen added. "No individual transaction or personal data is provided," he said in a statement. "We do not provide insights that track, serve up ads to, or even measure ad effectiveness relating to, individual consumers."

Last year, when Google announced the service, called "Store Sales Measurement," the company just said it had access to "approximately 70 percent" of U.S. credit and debit cards through partners, without naming them.

That 70 percent could mean that the company has deals with other credit card companies, totaling 70 percent of the people who use credit and debit cards. Or it could mean that the company has deals with companies that include all card users, and 70 percent of those are logged into Google accounts like Gmail when they click on a Google search ad.

Google has approached other payment companies about the program, according to two people familiar with the conversations, but it is not clear if they finalized similar deals. The people asked to not be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the matter. Google confirmed that the service only applies to people who are logged in to one of its accounts and have not opted out of ad tracking. Purchases made on Mastercard-branded cards accounted for around a quarter of U.S. volumes last year, according to the Nilson Report, a financial research firm.

Through this test program, Google can anonymously match these existing user profiles to purchases made in physical stores. The result is powerful: Google knows that people clicked on ads and can now tell advertisers that this activity led to actual store sales.

Google is testing the data service with a “small group” of advertisers in the U.S., according to a spokeswoman. With it, marketers see aggregate sales figures and estimates of how many they can attribute to Google ads -- but they don’t see a shoppers’ personal information, how much they spend or what exactly they buy. The tests are only available for retailers, not the companies that make the items sold inside stores, the spokeswoman said. The service only applies to its search and shopping ads, she said.

For Google, the Mastercard deal fits into a broad effort to net more retail spending. Advertisers spend lavishly on Google to glean valuable insight into the link between digital ads a website visit or an online purchase. It's harder to tell how ads influence offline behavior. That’s a particular frustration for companies marketing items like apparel or home goods, which people will often research online but walk into actual stores to buy.

That gap created a demand for Google to find ways for its biggest customers to gauge offline sales, and then connect them to the promotions they run on Google. "Google needs to tie that activity back to a click," said Joseph McConellogue, head of online retail for the ad agency Reprise Digital. "Most advertisers are champing at the bit for this kind of integration."

Initially, Google devised its own solution, a mobile payments service first called Google Wallet. Part of the original goal was to tie clicks on ads to purchases in physical stores, according to someone who worked on the product. But adoption never took off, so Google began looking for allies. A spokeswoman said its payments service was never used for ads measurement.

Since 2014, Google has flagged for advertisers when someone who clicked an ad visits a physical store, using the Location History feature in Google Maps. Still, the advertiser didn’t know if the shopper made a purchase. So Google added more. A tool, introduced the following year, let advertisers upload email addresses of customers they’ve collected into Google’s ad-buying system, which then encrypted them. Additionally, Google layered on inputs from third-party data brokers, such as Experian Plc and Acxiom Corp., which draw in demographic and financial information for marketers.

But those tactics didn’t always translate to more ad spending. Retail outlets weren’t able to connect the emails easily to their ads. And the information they received from data brokers about sales was imprecise or too late. Marketing executives didn’t adopt these location tools en masse, said Christina Malcolm, director at the digital ad agency iProspect. "It didn’t give them what they needed to go back to their bosses and tell them, 'We’re hitting our numbers,’" she said.

Then Google brought in card data. In May 2017, the company introduced "Store Sales Measurement." It had two components. The first lets companies with personal information on consumers, like encrypted email addresses, upload those into Google’s system and synchronize ad buys with offline sales. The second injects card data.

It works like this: a person searches for "red lipstick" on Google, clicks on an ad, surfs the web but doesn’t buy anything. Later, she walks into a store and buys red lipstick with her Mastercard. The advertiser who ran the ad is fed a report from Google, listing the sale along with other transactions in a column that reads "Offline Revenue" -- only if the web surfer is logged into a Google account online and made the purchase within 30 days of clicking the ad. The advertisers are given a bulk report with the percentage of shoppers who clicked or viewed an ad then made a relevant purchase. Mastercard's spokesman said the company does not view data on the individual items purchased inside stores.

It’s not an exact match, but it’s the most powerful tool Google, the world’s largest ad seller, has offered for shopping in the real world. Marketers once had a patchwork of consumer data in their hands to triangulate who saw their ads and who was prompted to spend. Now they had far more clarity.

Google’s ad chief, Sridhar Ramaswamy, introduced the product in a blog post, writing that advertisers using it would have "no time-consuming setup or costly integrations." Missing from the blog post was the arrangement with Mastercard.

Early signs indicate that the deal has been a boon for Google. The new feature also plugs transaction data into advertiser systems as soon as they occur, fixing the lag that existed previously and letting Google slot in better-performing ads. Malcolm said her agency has tested the card measurement tool with a major advertiser, which she declined to name. Beforehand, the company received $5.70 in revenue for every dollar spent on marketing in the ad campaign with Google, according to an iProspect analysis. With the new transaction feature, the return nearly doubled to $10.60.

"That’s really powerful," Malcolm said. "And it was a really good way to invest more in Google, frankly."

But some privacy critics derided the tool as opaque. EPIC submitted a complaint about the sales measuring tack to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year. A report in August that Facebook Inc. was talking with banks about accessing information for consumer service products sparked similar criticism. For years, Facebook and Google have worked to link their massive troves of user behavior with consumer financial data.

And financial companies have plotted ways to tap into the bounty of digital advertising. The Google tie-up isn’t Mastercard’s only stab at minting the data it collects from customers. The company has built out its data and analytics capabilities in recent years through its consulting arm, Mastercard Advisors, and gives advertisers and merchants the ability to forecast consumer behavior based on cardholder data.

Ad buyers that work with Google insist that the company is careful to maintain the walls between transaction information and web behavior, keeping any info flowing to retailers and marketers anonymous. "Google is really strict about that," said Malcolm.

Before launching the product, Google developed a novel encryption method, according to Jules Polonetsky, head of the Future Privacy Forum, who was briefed by Google on the product. He explained that the system ensures that neither Google nor its payments partners have access to the data that each collect. “They’re sharing data that has been so transformed that, if put in the public, no party could do anything with it,” Polonetsky said. “It doesn’t create a privacy risk.”

Future Privacy Forum, a nonprofit, receives funding from 160 companies including Google.

Google’s ad business, which hit $95.4 billion in 2017 sales, has maintained an astounding growth rate of about 20 percent a year. But investors have worried how long that can last. Many major advertisers are starting to funnel more spending to rival Amazon, the company that hosts far more, and more granular, data on online shopping.

In response, Google has continued to push deeper into offline measurements. The company, like Facebook and Twitter Inc., has explored the use of "beacons," Bluetooth devices that track when shoppers enter stores.

Some ad agencies have actively talked to Google about even more ways to better size up offline behaviors. They have discussed adding features into the ads system such as what time of day people buy items and how much they spend, said John Malysiak, who runs search marketing for the Omnicom agency OMD USA. "We’re trying to go deeper with Google," he said. "We’d like to understand more." Google declined to comment on the discussions.

10 September 2018

Australia's Home Affairs minister in office unlawfully?

From the article of  9 Sep 2018 by  theage.com.au of the headline:

Labor push to refer Peter Dutton to High Court

Labor will attempt to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court when Parliament resumes this week with new legal advice suggesting he faces constitutional difficulties on not one but two fronts.

Constitutional experts have previously raised questions about Mr Dutton's eligibility under section 44 because of a childcare centre run by Mr Dutton's wife. Mr Dutton is a beneficiary of the family trust that runs the centre.

But fresh legal advice by Matthew Collins and Siobhan Kelly suggests the thousands of decisions Mr Dutton made as minister from October 2016 onwards could be subject to legal challenge because of the questions surrounding his eligibility.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton during question time last month.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The legal advice, which was commissioned by the Labor Party, says "Mr Dutton's eligibility to sit as a member of the House of Representatives in the current Parliament has not been determined."

"Until those questions are authoritatively determined, the validity of every decision made by Dutton pursuant to the exercise of a power conferred on him as a Minister of State, and by his delegates, after 19 October 2016 will be attended with uncertainty....It seems to us that, while the present uncertainty subsists, further challenges are all but inevitable."

Melbourne's Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, confirmed to Fairfax Media last month that it was considering a legal challenge on behalf of its clients.

"This advice shows just how big the risk Scott Morrison is taking by keeping Peter Dutton in place as Home Affairs Minister while his eligibility is in doubt. If Mr Dutton is declared ineligible, thousands of decisions he has made as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection should be open to challenge and the entire immigration system could be thrown into chaos," Labor's attorney-general spokesman, Mark Dreyfus, told Fairfax Media.

"The decisions open to challenge could include deportation of criminals convicted of serious crimes. Is Mr Morrison really willing to take this risk? He has no choice - he must refer Mr Dutton to the High Court to end the doubt and stop the chaos engulfing the Liberal government."

Parliament resumes on Monday for the first time since the Liberal Party leadership spill and Mr Dutton is under pressure on two fronts - the questions over his constitutional eligibility and his interventions on behalf of two foreign au pairs.

Mr Dutton faces the possibility of both a no confidence motion and an attempt to refer him to the High Court.

At the moment, the Coalition has 74 MPs on the floor due to Malcolm Turnbull quitting Parliament. A date for a byelection in his seat of Wentworth is expected to be set on Monday.

Labor has 69 votes but would need all five crossbenchers and independents and someone on the Coalition side to abstain or miss the vote.

Labor MP Emma Husar is expected to return to Parliament on Monday after her period of leave.

Even if Mr Dutton was referred, he would be eligible to sit in Parliament until the High Court rules otherwise, a process which would take months.

A spokesman for Mr Dutton told Fairfax Media, "Mr Dutton's legal advice clearly states there is no breach of the constitution".

Last month, Mr Dutton released legal advice he commissioned clearing him of any issues under section 64 of the constitution.

The Solicitor-General, Stephen Donaghue QC, has also advised Peter Dutton "is not incapable" of sitting in Parliament although he added it was "impossible to state the position with certainty".

In addition to the questions surrounding his constitutional eligibility, Mr Dutton is also involved in an increasingly personal fracas about his interventions on behalf of two au pairs.

Fairfax Media understands under the new portfolio arrangements made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison day-to-day decisions about visas and interventions will now be made by Immigration Minister David Coleman.