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Exposing yourself for the good of the nation!

Now I know there has been a lot written about the census. Old fashioned privacy aficionados have been going at it hammer and tongs in the press all week. But you can hear from experts every day of the week on the ABC and we all know what that leads to!

I’m here to tell you how lucky you are to be under constant surveillance by the state.

It’s a dangerous world. Just listen to what the government says. (It’s not as silly and self-serving as it immediately sounds.) After being taken aside by three very nice men in plain suits and wraparound sunglasses this week for a twelve hour session of coffee and scones: I have entirely changed my mind. Silly me. What could I have possibly been thinking? They explained it all in such irresistible and graphic terms. I now understand!

So in stilted prose and with a quivering voice I am now agreeing fulsomely with everything that the government thinks. That is my new blanket policy. And right at the outset I would just like to say a big ‘hello’ to Mr. George Brandis and say how much I do admire and respect him. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand and just needs to be stated as an objective fact before I continue. For the sake of the nation and possibly the good health of my children.

The nice men in suits and wraparound sunglasses explained to me how there are innumerable unmentionable but very real threats crowding our society. In every city and township across our land they are multiplying in the corners. Then they seep like a low invisible fog into our classrooms, universities, parklands, airports, local cafés, various assorted fruit and veg shops, and even into service station bathrooms.

And, apparently, Muslimness is also spreading. Especially around mosques. And according to the new political science – wherever the low fog of terroristic threat meets a patch of Muslimness; then there is a chance of ‘an incident’ spontaneously igniting. Chocolate themed cafes around Australia are particularly dangerous ignition sources.

So while surveillance never actually happens; if it does then it is only ever for our own good. Everyone still has privacy from each other after all (mostly). But you can’t be on the lookout for threats all the time: can you? You need professionals for that!

So the government only looks at everything just to make sure it isn’t being looked at by people who shouldn’t look at it. If the government didn’t hack your emails then the terrorists would immediately hack all your emails, steal your bank account details, and then send dirty pictures to your boss. So it’s for your own good (if it did happen. Which of course it doesn’t.)

And of course the government would never actually do anything like that. And if they did have to rummage around in your dirty pictures for your own good, then they have to be allowed to do so, because of 9/11 and ISIS. But of course they don’t and won’t and they are all really nice people anyway even if they do. All of them. And their pets. George said so and he is so right. (And very handsome in the right light.)

So anyway, I want to assure you that our government is not rummaging around in or photographing anything but if they had to then they would likely do so in a very ethical and anti-terroristic way. After all, they want to protect all the institutions of the state that are looking after you and your kiddies (and they may or may not have pictures of all of them). Anyway our security forces are far too busy worrying about real and present threats to even notice a silly thing like a census!

‘Didn’t you hear our nice Attorney General?’ the nice men in suits and wraparound sunglasses said before playing a short four hour monologue from George that cleared everything up nicely. He is such a nice man (have I mentioned that already?)

Apparently the Australian Security Forces behemoth didn’t even know that the census is happening! They are just so busy sweeping up acres of dangerous things and foiling hundreds of thousands of dangerous plots; that they were entirely unaware that anyone was planning on filling in anything anywhere in our country. And I believe him. I think this is the safest route.

So I urge you to believe him as well. After all they already have your name and address. (But of course they won’t ever put the two things together and I would never even dream of hinting that the government could even possibly think about doing such a thing.)

So first and foremost DO NOT PANIC. It’s far too late for panic and it will achieve nothing.

Just tell the truth when you fill in the census. Or at least a reasonable approximation of what you would like to think is the truth. But remember: if you fail to provide the correct information (that will never be collated or considered or checked) then you will be fined $800.

So if you do provide false information on the grounds that the government might collate and check the information: think of the glow of moral satisfaction that you will get when you receive the fine. All of your fears about the state becoming an all-knowing, all-seeing totalitarian monster will have been vindicated!

But of course that would never happen. (Perhaps a portrait of George in front of the entranceway?)

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  1. townsvilleblog

    I don’t believe that Australian citizens have had any real privacy for decades the Census will simply provide confirmation or further confirmation that the information the federal government has on individual Australians is true and correct. Some pathetic excuse like we need the info to plan future govt infrastructure is fairly lame in North Queensland, when we have needed water infrastructure in particular for many decades, yet it has not been forthcoming. I intend to fill out the census honestly and accurately nonetheless.

  2. Owen

    I believe that asio and afp wont be able to access any of the census info ever to check anything or even use the meta data collected on sensless night. Oh look is that kermits girlfriend oh just how long has she had a pilots license.. I wonder what the people that have stuff to hide will put on their forms….. ….I have nothing to hide but I am not sure about everyone else….

  3. Florence nee Fedup

    Truth is, privacy has only been a right of those with the money to buy it, enforce it.

  4. Pilot

    I have only ever put my name on a Census. I do not put my wife’s name nor the children’s names on them. Screw the government! This year, same story, no names except mine, they can go and root their collective boots.

    Census information has been available to all and sundry in the past, so what makes this one any different? This one is WORSE with this toxic lot of FASCISTS in power!

  5. Miriam English

    Good point James. How do they know if we’ve filled it out accurately if they aren’t going to be checking and collating it against us personally?

    The census is a really useful thing. What a pity the grasping info-greedy have caused this problem where many people will now have considerable incentive to fill it out untruthfully. What an incredibly stupid thing for them to do. We may never know how much damage it has done to the census.

    I almost feel like filling it out wrongly just as an act of defiance, but it’s probably a waste of effort, all my info is out there anyway — I never use pseudonyms online and my books and short stories make it very clear how I feel. I’m unlikely to be a member of one of the groups targeted by the security monsters (although that sounds a bit like “First they came for the…” *[see full quote below]).

    On a related issue, one of the things that bothers me most about shadowy spook agencies listening to and watching all we do and amassing records on all of us is that we don’t know if they have been subverted by other forces. All that information is a vast honeypot. Many criminal organisations would dearly love to get their hands on it. It’s worth a fortune. Because the spooks are secretive and not publicly accountable there is no way to know if they’ve been compromised. Their very secretiveness is their weakest point. It actually puts them at great risk.

    In computer programming it’s easy to see that open-source programs are far more secure than programs where the source code is kept secret. The open-source programs can be viewed by thousands of people and errors or malicious code are quickly found and removed. Secret code can be compromised and nobody might ever know. It is the same with organisations. Secrecy allows the rot of corruption and criminality to grow. Openness makes it very difficult for corruption to take hold.

    We might like to think organisations like ASIO are safe and have our interests at heart, but we can’t know. And the more time passes the less likely that will continue to be the case. Once corruption creeps into a secretive organisation it becomes virtually impossible to remove.

    It is widely though that there are good reasons for such organisations to keep secrets, but I’ve never seen a convincing example. Most of the examples of such secrets unnecessary and can be done in a public way. Sometimes the public way is more difficult, but surely it is worth it for the sake of safety. The damage that can be done to our country is too terrible if such organisations go rotten. Surely they are interested in the safety of our country… or have they already been compromised?

    • the full quote, for those who haven’t read it, is:
      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

      — Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
  6. Miriam English

    Damn. Typos: “It is widely though” should be “It is widely thought
    “examples of such secrets unnecessary” should be “examples of such secrets are unnecessary”

    I must be tired.

  7. jim

    I’d say most folks think that our governments look after our collective interests with honesty, truth and moral, leanings… …..if it sounds too good to be true, well……it properly is.

  8. wam

    I have 4 visitors and have applied for a form for 6 but I do not expect it to arrive before tues.
    I run a few old women to shops, voting and post office(over 80). One got a form in the post mysteriously, as did my daughter, the rest I helped order one. They were worried by the $180 a day but I said I will ring the census and explain.
    The election is turning somewhat shambolic and the census looks like being worse.
    Wonder how much diludbran and/or labor can be blamed for the privatising of ABS??
    great photo ismp::)) network crash???

  9. Hotspringer

    To the census takers.
    N.B. Information extracted under duress is not necessarily reliable.

  10. Miriam English

    Brandis, after leaving government could have a lucrative career in the movies as a creepy villain. He has the expressions and mannerisms down nicely. I wonder if he practices them in front of the mirror.

  11. Florence nee Fedup

    Can’t see many rushing to him for legal advice.

  12. Clean livi

    Suspect IF information was made public, it would be the end of meaningful census for quite some time thereafter.

    HOWEVER, we have been told that the data will be confidential! (Just like the ALP confidential cabinet documents of the Rudd / Gillard years, that the immediate past PM let loose!)

    Do you REALLY trust a government after Tony Abbotts contribution to the nation?

  13. win

    hotspringer ; I believe this has been proved . A good point . So sad that we have governments we seriously no longer trust .

  14. paulwalter

    Am disgusted with jelly backed politicians over things like FTA’s and surveillance/detention, always grovel to big business, the bureaucracy and security organs and foreign interests, never operate for the people they represented themselves as honest to, who pay their salaries.

  15. Greg

    I see this as nothing but another means of the government now grasping for more money and power , the only way to find out if the form is filled with any wrong or misleading information is check those answers with other government departments other wise the threat of the fines are mute , it is also a very real danger to those who hold either dual citizenship or other residency status , it is a criminal offense to mislead or refuse to answer the questions provided and we all know our governments attitude to those that have criminal records … look up the character requirements Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) and our government has been using this to deport people left right and center over the last 3 years ….just check online…. the other reason is to crack down on those that have not given full disclosure to centrelink of income , property and assets , think i’m over reaching ?? well lets just wait an see

  16. Lurline Hanna

    I will fill in 99.99% of the form honestly. However my name will be omitted or a pseudonym. They don’t need my name and therefore won’t receive it.

  17. Keitha Granville

    Currently on holiday in the US researching family history and it occurred to us that the reason people disappear from the Censuses of old is the same as now maybe – we are out of the country so we don’t exist this time. When our descendants in 100 years are researching the family, they won’t find us !!! That’s really annoying.

  18. Kyran

    Dear Mr Moylan.
    Is there any chance you got the names or phone numbers of those wonderful men in suits with wraparound sunglasses? I have a few questions about this census and have yet to find the answers. Maybe, they could help.
    As Ms English pointed out “The census is a really useful thing.”. This is based on a notion that we fill out these forms every five years or so and our government uses that information to work out where they need to spend our money. If that is the primary function of the census, why is it that our politicians go out spending money at the end of every electoral cycle with absolutely no regard to the needs identified in any census?
    If, as the ABS suggests, the statistical analysis is paramount, as a snap shot of life in Australia on the night the 9th August, why is it that the form can be filled out over a four week (at least) period? From what I have read, over 1mil Australians had it completed by the close of the weekend! Silly me, I was looking for a manger, somewhere, for tonight.
    With regard to the ‘privacy’ aspect, I can write chapter and verse on that, going back to Hawke’s ‘Australia Card’ in 1985. If the accuracy of my form is predicated on my including my name, haven’t they already tipped their hand?
    As to their enforcement on those ‘not complying’, as I understand it, they can’t enforce until such time as I confirm my name. Can you ask those wonderful men in suits with wraparound glasses if they already know my name?
    Just as an observation, this seems like another typical demonstration of our current government in action (or our governments inaction). Somewhere between pathetic and farcical.
    We recently had elections and there were suggestions the performance of the AEC was effected by budget cuts. As far as I can tell, there are proposed cuts to their budget, not yet passed.
    As far as I can tell, the ABS suffered a $10mil cut under the Gillard government and a further $68mil cut under Hockey/Abbott. After a $78mil haircut, there were all sorts of questions asked about the accuracy of unemployment figures.
    Can you please ask those wonderful men in suits with wraparound sunglasses who the heck they think they are fooling?
    George Brandis, no matter how much you admire and respect him, doesn’t count. He doesn’t count for much of anything at all.
    I understand you are a busy man. I won’t hold my breath for a response.
    Thank you, Mr Moylan, and commenters. Take care

  19. Freethinker

    Interesting, from the news, quote:
    “The Australian Signals Directorate are investigating, but they did note that it was very difficult to source the attack.”

    Mr Kalisch said the site was taken down just after 7:30pm after the fourth attack as a precaution to “ensure the integrity of the data”.
    end of Quote

    Burt they have said to us that the ABS site it is bullet proof, that the data is secure……………

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