Today we have finally reached the much-vaunted date on which the Government said it would have completed the rollout of the trouble-plagued National Broadband Network. Despite widespread industry expectations a media blitz by communications minister Paul Fletcher has so far not materialised. No ribbon cuttings and no skywriter plane spelling out “Mission Accomplished” as some jokingly predicted (see postscript).
A rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases being reported in Victoria and New South Wales. China re-instating restrictions as it sees infections return. Our chief medical officer says his greatest fear is a second wave, and there’s the likelihood the coronavirus will linger around forever like the flu.
Yet another IT debacle from the federal government. But this one is different. In this case we could see people die.
The blunt reality is the COVIDSafe app is a dud. Poorly designed and incapabale of doing what it is intended to do. We need a contact tracing app that actually works.
Australia’s Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is right. In his latest vision speech he pointed to the benefits of decentralisation. It’s time we stopped cramming more and more people into already overcrowded cities. It’s predicted that pretty soon 90 percent of all Australians will live in our sprawling capitals. But does that really make sense?
The current health crisis has seen people forced to work from home. We’ve discovered that with modern technology we don’t all need to gather in CBD offices. It’s likely home working will continue when we emerge from the threat of the coronavirus.
PREFACE: It’s worth noting that Victoria is so far the only state known to have actually used the COVIDSafe app. It has now had 21 people who’ve tested positive let its health department download their data yet this didn’t identify anyone they didn’t already know about through existing manual contact tracing methods. Presumably the app missed numerous people with whom they must have come into contact. Time to fix it or flick it. Millions of Australians are out and about in the false belief that having downloaded the app they are somehow safer because that’s what the Government told them.
COVIDSafe is yet another flawed technology project from the Australian government. A failure to sufficiently consult with IT experts and privacy lawyers has significantly reduced public confidence, leading to a limited take-up that significantly reduces any potential benefit of the scheme.
People are wondering about the security of their personal and private information. The Attorney-General’s department declined to give a Senate hearing a guarantee that their legislation would override the US Cloud Act. This is important given that the data is stored with Amazon.
So, the Attorney General Christian Porter will ban law enforcement agencies from accessing metadata from the proposed Coronavirus contact tracing app. What, just like he stopped them obtaining people’s web browsing history without a warrant under the data detention scheme?
Australia’s commercial television networks are in trouble. Not simply because of the Coronavirus but because they failed to develop effective strategies to counter the arrival of Netflix and other ‘streaming’ platforms – something anticipated long before it happened.
Last week the federal government threw the struggling networks a financial lifeline. It includes subsidies and deferred or waived fees and it reflects savage advertising revenue declines. Sadly for the viewing public however, local drama, children’s and documentary content quotas have been suspended.
Since publication federal Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy has ‘taken full responsibility‘ for a $60 billion over-estimation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy program.Yet he has not resigned. Nor has anyone else.
The Victorian Government has appointed a judge to inquire into the COVID-19 hotel quarantine program. They should just find out who made the decision. If they don’t have a decent explanation, then demote them. That way other public servants might start to take their responsibilities more seriously.
Where does the buck stop these days?What should taking responsbility actually mean?
Blame shifting between state and federal government agencies over how a cruise ship carrying people suspected to have been infected with the Coronavirus was allowed into the port of Sydney demonstrates, yet again, the parlous state of public administration in this country.
We’ve had to establish a royal commission into the bushfires that caused death and massive destruction earlier in the year – having ignored recommnendations from several similar inquiries.
As nearly everybody now understands, the changes that have occurred in public policy in the last few weeks are without precedent, at least since the Second World War. They tell us in the most straightforward possible way that only government finance and organisation can support the people in a national emergency.
They tell us that the extreme free market, small government model propounded by a ‘think tank’ like the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) doesn’t work when it matters most.
They show us that independent institutions with a public purpose like the ABC and CSIRO truly are part of the bedrock of Australian society. And they remind us, as we endlessly discuss issues of public health, that good government policy just cannot be based on the perverse denial of scientific understanding.
As most of us are holed-up in our homes working or studying online as a response to the Coronavirus a bunch of politicians ignored medical advice and gathered together in Canberra. Perhaps it’s time for a virtual parliament?
Of course this would require that we first fix the NBN so that all our elected representatives and their advisors have decent broadband at home and in their electorate offices.