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Tudge releases unauthorised documents, and where are the “leading” feminists?

Please feel free to email, phone or visit this man with your opinions.

The Guardian has this afternoon reported that Human Services Minister Alan Tudge “accidentally” authorised the sending of confidential internal briefings concerning Centrelink complainant Andie Fox and marked “official use only,” to Fairfax journalist Paul Malone for publication.

The documents included information about Ms Fox from the Australian Tax Office. It’s unclear whether or not DHS has notified the ATO of this data breach.

The Guardian became aware of the “mistake” when the same documents were sent to that publication after journalists requested further information from DHS on the Tudge debacle.

Tudge has assured parliament that he lawfully authorised the release of Fox’s information to Malone. However, given he now claims some of those documents were “accidentally” released, he could not also have authorised them unless he authorised an accident, which is entirely possible and if so, situates us in even more bizarre territory than we found ourselves in yesterday.

It was also revealed today that Alan Tudge requires regular updates from his staff, gleaned from social media, on which Centrelink users are complaining about their experiences with that department.

Centrelink is stalking customers who publicly complain about their services.

Any Centrelink employee who released documents marked “for official use only” to the media would be sacked and prosecuted. I expect the same treatment for Minister Tudge. Don’t you?

Andie Fox is a single mother, chosen by Tudge as a scapegoat to distract from his astronomical incompetency. As I’ve noted in earlier posts, the power imbalance between Alan Tudge, Paul Malone of Fairfax, and Andie Fox is incalculable. As I’ve also noted before, there are thousands of complainants Tudge could have chosen to attack, however, he chose a single mother, one woman because, I suggest, he imagined her to be an easy target, and we know how the LNP feel about single mothers.

And yet not one leading feminist has seen fit to speak out about Ms Fox’s plight. Not one feminist with a platform has chosen to use it to discuss this situation. Not one leading feminist has got Ms Fox’s back, not one has questioned Tudge’s persecution of a single mother, not one has questioned the injustice of Ms Fox being in this situation in the first place because of her ex partner’s actions. A woman is under unprecedented attack by the Australian LNP government, and not one public feminist has said a word about it. WHY NOT?

To be continued.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. paulwalter

    Not just feminists either. The whole of the left and the whole of msm have been too silent as to these outrageous events, you wonder if programmers and journalists are having pressure applied by executives in the background.

    I still can’t “get” that nothing seems to have turned up in court as to the false algorithm and wonder if info on this is being sat on as well.

    Or are sections of the public comfortable in being complicit with it, as the German public was when the socialists and jews were carted off to the camps?

  2. olddavey

    “WHY NOT?”
    Bloody good question, Jen, there’s been plenty of time.

  3. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Jennifer. Yes, it is strange that feminists are not shouting from the rooftops. But at the same time, Tudge could just as easily have chosen a wheel-chair victim of MS or an 80 year-old male pensioner – anyone, really, who had dared to complain. I sure as hell hope that Andie sues the pants off them!

  4. babyjewels10

    “Distraction from his astronomical incompetency.” We could apply this to so many of them, in particular Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Ley, Cash, Abbott et al.

  5. Ian

    Here are Tudge’s details in a ‘copy and paste’ format and webpage. Vent your displeasure to this git about his abhorrent treatment of a citizen of Australia.

    Suite 4, Level 1
    420 Burwood Highway
    Wantirna South VIC 3152

    Phone: (03) 9887 3890
    Fax: (03) 9887 3893

    Go for it.

  6. jimhaz

    This actually changes the issue from what I saw as limited additional personal information (to what Fox had already more or less publicly said) that was published by Malone, into a fairly clear case of private information unrelated to the process being supplied by a ministers office directly to a journalist.

    The two internal memo’s, and perhaps Tudge’s additions, would have contained a lot of private information not related to the faults in the process complained about by Fox.

    I read somewhere that Tudge retweeted the article soon after publication. Upon reading the article shouldn’t he have known if there was more information than he intended to give, so the defence of it being a mistake is quite fragile, should one feel inclined to grant him the presumption of innocence.

    [Andie Fox is a single mother]

    A competent one though, so I find using this angle to be a false appeal to emotion.

    [I’ve noted in earlier posts, the power imbalance between Alan Tudge, Paul Malone of Fairfax, and Andie Fox is incalculable]

    I suppose one could add into this imbalance that she actually writes for Fairfax. Hard to bite the hand that occasionally might feed you.

    I do still feel that in this age of social media, departments need to be able to provide their side of the story. A lot of her complaint seems to be related to failures on her part to advise of changing circumstances and to respond to letters. I have a feeling the 3 dots points provided to Tudge was what a non-vindictive departmental response, as opposed to a LNP minister under stress, would have been.

  7. Endakis

    MP Linda Burney has referred Mr Tudge to the federal police at least

  8. Richard Creswick

    So what, she writes for Fairfax, there “appear to have been failures on her part to advise of changing circumstances and responding to letters” and the department’s non vindictive response was escalated by Tudge? Does any of this justify the release of personal information to the media? I don’t think so and I wonder of the journo feels he’s been rather grubbily used? Against a fellow scribe, if indeed she is? Nasty business and requires looking into.

  9. jamesss

    The LNP is doing a great job of destroying themselves without any assistance. I enjoy watching the hole get deeper and deeper. An election later in the year?

  10. Kronomex

    He should change his name to A. Long Tug.

  11. etnorb

    Hard to believe that the Fairfax organisation–which has in the past been very much “anti” almost all Liberal crap–should be a party to this disgusting shambles around the releasing of what is a private persons’ details to the world! Shame, shame, shame!

  12. Carole West

    I agree with you, Jennifer. This is a cowardly act of intimidation, from a person who has a lot of power, but doesn’t know how to use it. I hope he loses his job.
    You lost me, however,in the ‘leading feminist’ bit. you have no idea how many men and women have contacted their local representative about this issue, or posted support on social media. I don’t need a leading anything to present my point of view, and i don’t think it added anything to your article except a touch of pique.

  13. billie11

    Clearly Centrelink will release the records of anyone who criticises its performance. And they have our Health records, tax records even if we haven’t used Centrelink

  14. Roswell

    The government knows more about you than you’d ever imagine. It’s what they do with that knowledge/information that is a worry. For example, I learned a few years ago that ASIO had sold personal information do debt collection agencies. I can’t confirm this, but I trust my source.

  15. Zuvele Leschen

    How is this a gender issue? It is a breach of a person’s privacy, and the gender of the person is irrelevant. We would, I hope, be just as scandalised if the same details were released about a male whistleblower.

    As for outrage about this issue, I’ve certainly see plenty of that.

  16. Kyran

    There were two articles on the ABC site today which leave me wondering. The first one.

    “The digital agency set up to improve online government services never worked on Centrelink’s automated debt recovery system and was “locked out” by the Human Services Department from working on the myGov website, according to the digital office’s former chief executive.
    The myGov portal is one of the government’s premier websites and was a key platform in Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system.
    Paul Shetler, who resigned from the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in November, said the first his office heard of the debt recovery program was through media reporting.”

    The other one.

    “The bill appears to indicate a new push to ensure the Government has the legal capacity to publicly respond to those they believe are deliberately misleading the public.”

    “Labor’s veteran affairs spokeswoman, Amanda Rishworth, said the Opposition had supported the bill on the provision that strict safeguards were in place to protect public data.
    “Saying that, what’s come to light over recent days seems to be that the Government can’t be trusted with personal information,” she told AM.”

    So, if Labor and independents are negotiating with a government, in good faith, knowing the government does not have good faith, why are they negotiating? The list of precedents are easy to research.
    Thanks, again, Ms Wilson. And commenters. Take care
    PS Roswell. My recollection is that ASIO sold it to Credit Reporting Agencies, not debt collectors. As there are only two of them in Australia, it should be easy to find. I tried, but couldn’t find it.

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Jennifer Wilson with regards to Tudge and his bullying, illegal conduct towards Andie Fox. Good on you also for pointing out the silence of so-called women’s spokespersons, who have failed to show action for Andie Fox without fear or favour .

    Are they too frightened of possible retribution from this government that has no hestitation to counter-attack well-founded criticism with ruthless payback?

    We don’t want wimps, as opponents to this monstrous LNP regime. We need People of conviction and commitment.

  18. David Fernleigh

    There is no way that this could be any less than deliberate on his behalf. But typical of any politician, like error in judgement or similar when they know they have Ben caught

  19. Deanna Jones

    Who are the leading feminists? Many of them would also be Centrelink clients.

    Zuvele, it’s a gender issue because the majority of Centrelink clients are women with children and this is an example of male power structures interfering with a woman’s access to the economy, and in doing so probably terrorising a lot of other vulnerable women.

  20. Helen Balcony (@CastIronBalcony)

    This is a disgustingly self-serving article. Not all of the actions taken, or the support given to the victim, are in the public sphere, given the necessity to go into social media “lockdown” due to the nature of the case. Social media has been alight with this case – so the MSM choose to accept articles from the IPA or the usual shock-jock suspects instead of feminist activists? How surprising. What is printed shows what the editors accept, not what is sent in.
    It doesn’t show, either, who complained to the Press council, who contacted Media Watch, who contacted their local member… Yeah only an article in the paper counts, right?
    JW is attempting to burnish her public profile on the back of a prolific feminist writer/activist’s misfortune and I find it disgusting.

  21. Roswell

    Helen, your Twitter summary says you’re opinionated. Who would have thought?

  22. Matters Not

    Deanna Jones, is it possible that males could be feminists as well? That feminism is not a gender neutral ‘philosophy’ as such? That ‘feminism’ must only be a gender issue? That feminism is just a shorthand for a declared (or undeclared) war between the sexes? And must always be viewed through that lens?

    If not? Then why do you always present ‘feminism’ in those terms? Just askin …

    As for the ‘politics’ of your approach – you are an overall loser. Sad but true.

  23. Deanna Jones

    MN, there is no need to get personal just because someone annoys you. Happy Mardi Gras to you ( and everyone else).

  24. Jennifer Wilson

    I’m astonished that anyone could think this isn’t a feminist issue. At its most simplified, it’s a very frightening example of abuse of power by a patriarchal institution, exercised against an articulate woman who is a single mother struggling to keep her family’s heads above water.

    Yes, Tudge could have gone after anyone but he didn’t. Why didn’t he? Why did he choose an articulate single mother trying to keep her family’s heads above water, whose problems with Centrelink arose because of her ex partner’s debt?

    As well, Tudge’s disputes with Fox’s public account were minimal, barely worth consideration. There are thousands of others who’ve complained much more fully and with far more complexities whom Tudge could have argued caused “damage” to Centrelink & public confidence. An entire website, for a start, called #notmydebt. Yet he singled out Fox.

    There is a feminist ideology that has its unique perspective on situations such as this, an ideology that is employed by prominent feminists with large platforms to discuss and debate all manner of issues. it offers a powerful tool for understanding how and why institutions silence dissent and I remain appalled that no feminist with such a platform has chosen to use it and the tools at her disposal to protest what has happened to Fox.

    Helen Balcony, it says a great deal that your disgust is aroused by my article and myself, not by what the government is attempting to do to those who dare to dissent. And I think you have entirely misunderstood the situation if you see it as a media “lockdown.” The whole point is the release to media of private information, and no media, as far as I know has shied away from commentary. The idea that media would not publish critical articles from prominent feminists is ludicrous. There’s been negative criticism all over the place.
    Disgust is a very uncomfortable emotion to experience, so I’d advise you to avoid my articles in the future and save yourself the distress.

  25. Kaye Lee

    In December 2015, Turnbull released a Public Data Policy Statement. I was looking at it for other reasons (websites not being updated and modelling not being released) but there is one statement that is relevant to this discussion.

    “Australian Government entities will uphold the highest standards of security and privacy for the individual, national security and commercial confidentiality.”

  26. Jennifer Wilson

    Kaye, as I was reading your post I imagined the furore if “commercial confidentiality” was breached as the private data of a single mother has been.

  27. Kaye Lee

    Commercial-in-confidence even takes precedence over on-water matters, national security and cabinet leaks.. Reports “to government not by government” can be kept secret even though the taxpayer funded them. If the ABC tries to report on the government paying people smugglers they are branded as traitors.

    But if a welfare recipient speaks up they must be crucified. I have hesitated to label this as a feminist issue even though I understand many women are affected. Remember Duncan Storrar who asked on Q&A why they were lifting the second highest tax threshold but doing nothing to help low income earners? His private life was blasted all over the Murdoch press.

  28. paulwalter

    Yes, Kaye Lee. When all this DR shit was put up in Parliament enormous reserves of time and faux sincerity were expended telling us that the data retained wasby some magical force iron -clad safe and not to be handed around like cookies…”nosirree, we woüldn”t dream of doing that, scout’s honour “. We all sighed and thought to ourselves, yeah and I am Donald Duck?”.

    At the time, my simple response was “don’t collect and hold and the stuff can’t be misused”, a bit like, “don’t store the nuclear bomb in your garage and you cant be injured if it goes off”.

    Still cant “get” Helen Balcony’s attack on Wilson. That it is a civil liberties issue in no way precludes it being a feminist issue. I’m not so sure it is exclusively a feminist issue,unless you define feminism in certain very narrow terms.

    But ok, I’ll ignore the civil liberties aspect in case I’m trespassing. Never mind that the cattle trucks may be on the way for me too, not a “feminist so can’t participate? Or does the fact that I am worrried about civii liberties thus confer upon me the mantle of “feminist”, if only “femniists “are allowed to care about Andie Fox, hence the civil liberties aspects of her case that comprise most of it.

    In a sense, I feel like we have been whirled back to pre feminist times, through this exclusionism that seems to negate femnism from its social context, negating both as fields of action or defence on an obscure technicality.

    I suppose if you don’t want to live under a dictatorship it could be said to be “self serving” (or self preserving). How else Wilson’s article is”self swerving “‘ Helen Balcony didn’t quite make clear.

    But its nice to know I can stop worrying about my life and head back to the party because things now won’t change because it is feminist issue exclusively and doesnt apply to my iron clad. freedoms.

    Trust ya’s..sure do, since DR abuse only applies to feminists.

  29. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    If Jennifer is right that leading Feminists have not come out loud and proud to condemn Tudge’s abuse of his powers over a woman who happens to be a single mum and in a less powerful position, then Jennifer is fair to criticise them for not defining his abuse in those terms because of the stigma conveniently attached to being a single mum on benefits.

    However, if Tudge had come out condemned anybody else: man, woman or child by abusing his powers, I would expect social justice groups of any persuasion to do the same.

    The bottom line is that Tudge is a pig, who abused his powers to diminish and publicly humiliate a vulnerable person, who dared speak out against the injustice of the Robo Debt Disaster. I would hope that any of us would speak up and defend an abused person or groups of people in those circumstances.

  30. paulwalter

    Progressives must not be split on it. It threatens us all and a house divided, falls.

  31. paulwalter

    Btw, I still want to know why so much of msm remains silent on it.

  32. Athenauuse

    Sadly, single mums are fair game in Australia and have been for such a ling time that no one questions their persecution.

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Athenauuse.

  34. Deanna Jones

    Athenauuse, we sure are.

    Paul, I suspect there is more going on here than meets the eye.

  35. paulwalter

    Yes Deanna..big big money- imterrnational money and contracts and consultancies. as that link mentioned it. I see it as a sort of rerun of SERCO and privatised security at Manus and Nauru..Thirty pieces of silver, common or garden.

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Paul.

    We all knew the next vulnerable People this malevolent, criminal LNP would come for would be the vulnerable unemployed and under-employed on Welfare. First, it was asylum seekers and refugees …
    … and now we have Australian citizens frightened and intimidated by this extremist, bloodlust, hateful LNP government.

    The standard that we walk past is the one that we are assumed to have accepted.

    The Libs are laughing at us, as barely anybody has dared to query their assault on the poor. Where are Labor and the Greens?

    They’re all poisoned by neoliberalism, which has infested the poison of measuring one’s economic standing against one’s social contribution.

    It’s Time to put social contribution back up at the top of the ladder and economic standing way below.

  37. silkworm

    “Reports “to government not by government” can be kept secret even though the taxpayer funded them.”

    There’s that “taxpayer funded” bs again.

  38. Bacchus

    You’re not doing the MMT cause any favours silky 😉

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