Beautiful Plots: Israel Sabotages the Natanz Nuclear Facility

Over the weekend, Iran marked National Nuclear Technology Day. The stars of…

The cycle must be broken

By Jennifer Michels On the 10th August 1987 Australia announced the Royal Commission…

Documents show NSW police changed their minds over…

By TBS Newsbot CW: This piece discusses sexual violence and suicide. According to released…

Say what you want, Murdoch. Exaggerate according to…

Think television, newspapers, public speeches, movies, sport, news, advertising, entertainment, radio and…

Be Human

By 2353NM About 12 months ago, we were asking if the world could…

Nimble Failure: The Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Program

“I am not going to be talking about numbers today,” Australia’s Chief…

An Ode To Scotty From Announcements!

(Actually it’s fourteen lines so maybe I should have called a sonnet…

Morrison's undermining of sexual violence

By Jennifer Michels We know the men of Australia are sick of hearing…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: Greens

Inquiry’s bumpy ride awaits, after tech giants’ “blackmail” tactics

As the Senate inquiry into the Digital Media Code began on Friday, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has expressed her displeasure over the lack of negotiating spirit Facebook and Google have brought to the halls of Parliament in Canberra.

In fact, after Day 1’s proceedings were completed, Hanson-Young, in her role of chairing the Senate inquiry, gave the Silicon Valley tech media giants an almighty serve in response to their testimonies.

Hanson-Young even went as far to express that their tactics of sticking to their own principles threaten an essential pillar of democracy in Australia, that of a free press.

And Hanson-Young, in return, has shown the Senate inquiry’s challengers that she is ready to wage a toe-to-toe battle, or even a bumpy ride, to fight for better journalism in Australia.

“We know that Australians value good quality journalism in this country. And in order to make good quality journalism in this country sustainable [to this point], we’ve needed to pay for it,” Hanson-Young said after the opening day’s formal presentations.

“The tech giants have been getting away with it for far too long, and with very little regulation, and one of the results is that journalism in this country is suffering,” she added.

Moreover, Google – through testimony and statements provided by Mel Silva, its managing director in Australia and New Zealand – has threatened to geo-block its services to Australian users should the Digital Media Code Bill come to fruition.

“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to search and coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk,” Silva said.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.

“This is our worst-case scenario, we do not want to be in this situation, we would love to get to an outcome where there is a workable outcome for all parties,” she added.

Meanwhile, Hanson-Young views Google’s position as a devious negotiating tactic equivalent to holding Australian users over a barrel.

“We are going through elements of the legislation, and there may be elements that need to be tweaked,” Hanson-Young admitted, in fairness.

“But I’ll tell you what – you don’t walk into the Australian Parliament, even if you’re among the biggest companies in the world, and especially if you’re not paying tax in this country, and blackmail the Australian Parliament and expect to get your way,” she added.

 

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, holding tech giants to account in chairing an inquiry into the Digital Media Code Bill (Photo from abc.net.au)

 

Silva said during the opening day’s testimonies that Google has a history of negotiating with other countries to cut deals and bring about compromises with media companies and news publishers where the latter groups get financially compensated but at rates that are suitable to them.

“There is, however, a workable solution for Google where we would pay publishers for value, they would create and curate content and panels that would exist across several Google services. These are deals that have been done all around the world, 450 so far,” said Silva.

Meanwhile, Facebook has adopted a similar stance to that of their Silicon Valley tech neighbours, also threatening to cease with publishing links and stories from Australian media providers upon passage of the Digital Media Code.

If this exists as a virtual case of Facebook unfriending Australian content consumers, Simon Milner, vice president of public policy at Facebook, sees it as his company’s unwavering corporate policy.

Milner told the inquiry that his company had three concerns about the proposed legislation and that a possibility of a series-circuit or daisy-chain effect could ensue, starting with the mandating of commercial arrangements with every Australian media publisher.

“The sheer volume of that we regard as unworkable,” Milner maintains, in defence of Facebook’s position.

Milner also says that his company has issues with the nature of negotiations between parties as being one of binding arbitration versus an open system of good faith negotiations, leading to a non-differentiation clause.

That clause essentially means that prevents one of the tech companies, such as Facebook, from offering commercial terms to certain publishers and changing how content is displayed regardless of whatever deals have been agreed to or not.

“It means if one publisher is out, [then] all Australian publishers are out,” Milner said.

Hanson-Young rejects the notions of the tech giants, seeing their positions as untenable towards the big picture of striking fair deals for Australia’s media companies.

“If you ever needed an example of what big corporate power looks like, this is it,” Hanson-Young said.

“This is a failure of the market – and it’s about time that we regulate big tech, and it’s about time that we ensure that big corporations do not continue to have such a stronghold over democracy,” she added.

At present, amounts of collective remunerations have been debated, although those in the mainstream press – such as Nine chairman Peter Costello and News Corp Austral-Asia CEO Michael Miller – have bandied about $600 million to $1 billion as being the appropriate figures.

With the inquiry is set to continue this week, Hanson-Young said that while negotiations between the government and the tech giants may be inevitable, the Digital Media Code is a much-needed element of overall media reform, and possesses a far-reaching impact.

“The way we ensure that is to ensure that all of this country’s outlets, no matter whether it’s The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, or any of the local country newspapers, the ABC, the public broadcasters, that their content created by those journalists and media agencies is actually paid for,” Hanson-Young said.

“These big tech giants have been taking this content, and using it as a part of its business model to make big profits from it for far too long.

“It has to change,” she added.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

ASIO bill reforms aren’t enough, say MEAA and Greens

Wedged between the recent passage of legislation expanding Australia’s spy agency’s powers and a date for a Senate inquiry into press freedom after the New Year, Attorney-General Christian Porter and the Morrison government announced on Wednesday a range of measures aimed at enhancing public interest journalism and the protection of whistle-blowers.

However, both the Greens and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) have criticised the government’s announcement, claiming it doesn’t go far enough to prevent the persecution of journalists and others acting in the public interest.

And those bodies collectively warn that such persecution can ultimately lead to prosecutions unless further revisions are taken.

“Under the reforms proposed by the Attorney-General today, journalists can still have their homes or workplaces raided without prior knowledge,” said Sarah Hanson-Young, holder of the communications portfolio for the Greens, in a reaction to Porter’s announcement.

“Journalists and their employers will still not have the right to appear before a judge and contest a search warrant before it is executed.

“Journalism remains a crime and journalists can still be jailed under these reforms,” added Hanson-Young.

Marcus Strom, the MEAA’s media federal president, called for greater action to counter any shortcomings that a Peter Dutton-sponsored piece of legislation passed in Parliament’s final sitting fortnight contained in the way of oversights and transparencies.

“The impetus for this review was the raids on consecutive days in 2019 of the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC offices in Sydney,” Strom said.

“Government agencies can still obtain warrants to investigate journalists in secret, and journalists and their sources can still be jailed for truth-telling.

“There is an urgent need for much broader reform to remove laws that criminalise journalism,” Strom added.

Dutton’s piece of legislation was aimed at increasing the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to include investigations aimed at anyone from private citizens and residents, even as young as 14 years of age, to anyone acting in a public-interest capacity, such as journalists and whistle-blowers.

And while Hanson-Young and the Greens had already arranged and announced a Senate inquiry into media freedom in Australia to take place in February after Parliament reconvenes after its summer break, Porter defends his department’s announcements as being a step in the right direction.

 

 

“Transparency is a key foundation of a healthy democracy and these reforms support the right of journalists and whistle-blowers to hold governments at all levels to account by shining a light on issues that are genuinely in the public interest,” said Porter.

Specific to journalists and public-interest journalism, amendments to Dutton’s recently-passed legislation would include:

  • only Supreme or Federal Court judges would have the ability to issue search warrants against journalists for disclosure offences
  • warrants would only be issued against journalists for disclosure offences after consideration by a Public Interest Advocate
  • greater justifications would have to be given in relation to warrants exercised against journalists, and
  • the government would be required to consider additional defences for public interest journalism for secrecy offences

“Our reforms will ensure the [ASIO Amendment Bill] is clear and understandable and provides an effective legal framework that supports and protects public sector whistle-blowers, while balancing important national security considerations with regard to the unauthorised release of sensitive information,” said Porter.

However, bodies such as the Public Interest Journalism Initiative (PIJI) have said that the inquiry to be chaired by Hanson-Young must include press freedom areas among:

  • enshrining a positive protection for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Australian law
  • with regard to broadening shield laws, Protection would have to be extended to all those involved in the newsgathering and publication process whose material or evidence may tend to reveal the identity of a source
  • journalists and their employers should be informed when enforcement agencies seek access to their metadata and journalist information warrants should be contestable by the subject of the warrant and their employer
  • and the public interest consideration required before issuing a journalist’s information warrant should be expanded to consider the potential harm that could be done by the issuance of the warrant and the public interest in a free press

“Journalists should not be charged for doing their jobs full stop. They should not have their homes raided. They should not be intimidated or threatened. They should not be attacked by the government for reporting what is in the public interest,” said Hanson-Young.

Hanson-Young also envisions areas of reporting that can be opened up without the government scrutiny which may theoretically be applied under the current legislation, should new press freedom laws become enacted.

“We have seen in recent months, vindication for those journalists whose homes and workplaces were raided over their reports on alleged war crimes and the government’s plans to spy on Australians. Public interest journalism is vital to our democracy,” she said.

“We need proper protections for journalists including a contested warrants process to be enshrined in a Media Freedom Act,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mike Burgess, ASIO’s director-general of security, feels that any reforms to the ASIO Amendment Bill – even at the reward of protecting public interest journalism, journalists, and whistle-blowers – need to be taken within the agenda of the nation’s greater interests.

“I acknowledge ASIO is granted extraordinary powers – but they are rightly subject to strict safeguards and oversight. Australians should be confident that ASIO acts in a targeted, proportionate, ethical way, and wherever possible, uses the least intrusive method available to collect security intelligence,” Burgess said in reaction to the bill’s passage last week.

“We do not just do what is legal, we do what is right,” Burgess added.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

On a Road to Nowhere?

As we all wake up today from our election hangovers, and stagger bleary eyed to work, many are considering the real implication of living in interesting times… and the real possibility that the Governor General may be forced to call a second election. The double dissolution election brought on by #stabilityMal has surprised everyone, not least the Australian voter; who, after casting their #rageVote now wonders what they were drinking, and who it was they spent those huddled, sweaty moments with in that election booth. Therefore, in another empty attempt to make sense of it all, it’s time for more analysis and conjecture!

Battle of the Bastards
updated 1800hrs 5 JulyThe current count on the AEC website has the ALP leading in 69 seats, and the LNP with 66. The ALP is trending in a further two seats, and the LNP in three, though all five are too close to call… which should probably be the subtitle for this election. The AEC has five seats undetermined; four Liberal and one ALP, which according to the current tally are likely to remain with incumbents. If that is the case we are looking at a 72/73 split between the ALP and LNP.

updated 1800hrs 4 July The ABC (i.e. Antony Green) has a slightly different tally, with ALP at 67, LNP at 68up from 64. Out of the 10 ‘seats in doubt’ the LNP is ahead on slender margins in four seats, the ALP on a similar knife-edge in five, and Xenophon party fairly comfortable in one. Giving us a House looking like this:
TABLES-house2

One of the key factors in this election is that traditional conservative voters have felt betrayed by the Liberal and National parties. Mining, CSG, the NBN, foreign ownership, constant cuts and privatisation have been a catalyst for conservative voters to look at what else is on offer. Some have realised that the ALP has policies they support; others have turned even further right. As a result, immigration is likely to be a continuing flashpoint, though this time around even Pauline Hanson supports socialised healthcare and the NBN.

Greens and Andrew Wilkie have a record of voting with the ALP, though Wilkie has stated he will not enter into any deals. Cathy McGowan tends to vote with the Coalition. Previously Katter aligned with the LNP, though this time there’s no carbon tax on the table this time. Key issues for Katter are CSG, energy privatisation and land sales, all of which the ALP have made murmurs about, while the LNP are unwilling/unable to move on either. If that will shift the pragmatic Katter away from traditional alliances remains to be seen. Xenophon has already said he will take the number of seats either party wins into account when negotiating agreements, so if that second seat in Grey comes to Team X then he will truly be the kingmaker.

Stiff Upper Lip
The new senate is going to be a mixed bag. Media and politicians alike may decry the election results as a circus as much as they like; but the people have spoken, just not coherently.

There are two truths in democracy: The voter is always right… and you get the government you deserve… and based on ABC.net.au and the AEC website, the senate is currently looking like this:

TABLES-senate

The trend for seats in doubt generally toward the right wing parties such as Katter, Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers, One Nation, and the various Christian groups. As per predictions, the lions’ share will likely go to the major parties; though there is a chance that either Katter or One Nation will get across the line.

Given the wide range of voices represented in the senate, we need to ask the question: Where do the new senators stand on legislation?

The Sydney Morning Herald published this rough breakdown of each parties’ focus. The Weasel takes a next step and looks at how the senators will likely vote on current key issues.

Positions garnered from official policy statements, news reports, and interest group websites.
Where there is no clear position, it can be assumed that senators will use the issue as a bargaining chip to further their own agenda.

Marriage Equality
Derryn Hinch: Pro equality, parliamentary vote
Fred Nile: Anti equality, pro plebiscite
Jacqui Lambie: Anti equality, pro plebiscite, conscience vote for party.
Katter: Anti equality
Lib Democrats: Pro equality, parliamentary vote
One Nation: Anti equality, pro plebiscite
Xenophon: Pro equality, parliamentary vote
see also Aus Marriage Equality site

Climate Change / Renewable Energy
Derryn Hinch: No clear position
Fred Nile: Sceptic, pro nuclear
Jacqui Lambie: Supports action (in statements), pro nuclear, voting record unclear
Katter: Pro Action, stop CSG, extend emission target, boost ethanol production
Lib Democrats: Sceptics, support mitigation, pro nuclear
One Nation: Wants a Royal commission into climate science “corruption
Xenophon: Pro Action, 50% reduction target by 2030

Recognition or Treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Derryn Hinch: No clear position
Fred Nile: Opposes Constitutional recognition, supports increased engagement
Jacqui Lambie: Constitutional recognition, plus dedicated indigenous seats in parliament
Katter: Wants action, possibly prefers treaty
Lib Democrats: Opposes Constitutional recognition
One Nation: Opposes Constitutional recognition and treaty
Xenophon: Supports Constitutional recognition

Education
Derryn Hinch: No clear position
Fred Nile: Improve education by adding bible study, and cutting Safe Schools
Jacqui Lambie: Boost TAFE, introduce national-service style apprenticeship scheme
Katter: Pro funding boosts, also wants systematic education reform
Lib Democrats: Stop Federal funding, pro deregulation, cut Austudy
One Nation: Government subsidised apprenticeship scheme
Xenophon: Pro Gonski, anti university deregulation

Royal Commission into Banking
Derryn Hinch: No clear position, may support
Fred Nile: No clear position
Jacqui Lambie: Supports
Katter: Supports
Lib Democrats: No clear position, unlikely to support
One Nation: No clear position, may support
Xenophon: Supports

NBN
Derryn Hinch: No clear position
Fred Nile: No clear position, wants more infrastructure
Jacqui Lambie: Supports FTTP
Katter: Supports FTTP
Lib Democrats: Prefers private competitive roll out instead of government
One Nation: Wants high speed broadband, proposes wireless hubs for regions
Xenophon: Supports FTTP

Federal ICAC
Derryn Hinch: Probably Pro ICAC
Fred Nile: No clear position
Jacqui Lambie: Pro ICAC
Katter: No clear position
Lib Democrats: No clear position
One Nation: Probably Pro ICAC
Xenophon: Pro ICAC

Refugees
Derryn Hinch: No clear position
Fred Nile: Mandatory detention, prefers Christian refugees,
Jacqui Lambie: Wants children out of detention, strict monitoring & quotas
Katter: Turnbacks, faster assessment, and supply work while on TPVs
Lib Democrats: Mandatory detention, on/off shore processing, strict entry requirements
One Nation: Turnbacks
Xenophon: Dislikes offshore processing, increase intake, speed up processing

Healthcare
Derryn Hinch: No clear position
Fred Nile: Better spending, especially in aged care
Jacqui Lambie: Supports socialised medicine, especially for combat veterans
Katter: Supports socialised medicine, wants more services for regions
Lib Democrats: Abolish Medicare, privatise, The Market will provide… apparently
One Nation: Supports socialised medicine
Xenophon: Supports socialised medicine, focus on prevention

On the question of which senators get a six-year stint, and which three… well that is up to the senate. There are two options:
1. Order-of-election; Out of the 12 state senators, whoever crossed the line first gets six years.
2. Recount; Votes are recounted treating the vote as a normal three-year cycle. Whoever would have been elected on that basis gets six years.
Which one the senate uses will likely depend on the three major parties, with Xenophon once again in position as king-maker. The inestimable Antony Green, of course, covers this question in more detail.

The anti-Islam voting block of Fred Nile, One Nation, and Lambie will bring up issues surrounding Muslim Australians and immigration generally; and likely to include senate inquiries into banning burkas or halal certification and labelling. The LNP could use this flashpoint as a major negotiating chip to pass other legislation; though that is unlikely to be the ABCC bill.

On practical and ideological matters of investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure such as the NBN, the balance is definitely leaning toward the ALP. Lambie, Katter and Xenophon have shifted to the centre on these issues, and the LNP can no longer rely on social policies to wedge support for their neo-liberal economic programme. Accepting a Federal ICAC may present the ALP with a ticket to govern, but marriage equality is unlikely to get anywhere unless the ALP can push an open vote. Action on climate will be problematic, expect another senate inquiry into nuclear power.

As predicted Derryn Hinch picked up the PUP and Ricky Muir vote, though really has very little to offer beyond his pet name-and-shame project, and animal justice. Populist by nature, he could decide or shift his vote if a concerted push came from his electorate…

…and that is important to remember. You can write to your MP and your Senator to express your preference. This parliament is an opportunity for voters and community to have a real impact on the nature of the parliament, and what agenda the parliament pursues. Given that the independent parties may decide who gets to form government, the time to start writing is now.

Scroll Up