Aussie Treasurer vs. QLD Health

Scott Morrison was doing a presser at a local Queensland Health-run hospital to sell his budget. As always he was looking for something to beat QH with to show how badly run and loss making things were in Labor-run health systems.

While ScoMo was checking the books he turned to the executive of the hospital and said I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the middle of the roll?””Good question” noted the executive. “We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every once in a while they send us a free roll. We recycle whenever possible.”

 

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Australian Internet Censorship In Practice

I have previously blogged about the The Great Australian Firewall, which is currently in its testing phase for manadatory internet filtering under the direction and control of the Australian Government (specifically ACMA). In the past few days, things have taken an alarming turn for the worse. I’m going to be slightly vague on some details for my own protection, as I don’t want to risk being the recepient a $11,000 fine and criminal record thanks to the AFP. So I’m only going to point towards public news sources that are reporting the details about this.

The Government, in its new initiative to become the world’s leading Nanny State, has decided that it is their right and duty to tell us what we can and cannot think, say and see on the Internet and other media. And remember kids, these people mostly live in Canberra, the most boring city in the world. Need I say more?

What has happened recently? (Historically? See here). Well ..

  • Bulletproof Networks hosts the very popular Internet forum, whirlpool.net.au. ACMA don’t like Whirlpool, particularly as a lot of discussion about Australian ISPs performance and their views on Internet Censorship, happens on there. A user posted a link to an anti-abortion website which apparently is on ACMAs blacklist. Bulletproof was immediately issued with a takedown notice and a threat of being fined $11,000 per day. Out of the blue of course, because ACMA’s blacklist is kept secret. More information reported in The Australian newspaper
  • Somewhere on the Internet, somebody has posted Denmark’s blacklist. Someone else submitted a link to ACMA aiming to highlight the futility of maintaining a secret blacklist. ACMA responded by blocking access to that website, and their press release about it. US Tech Blog Wired takes up the story.

“ACMA is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution.”

  • Coincedentally, whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, has been inaccessible from a number of Australian locations today. Not one to draw conclusions, but they are quoted in The Australian:

While Wikileaks is used to exposing secret government censorship in developing countries, we now find Australia acting like a democratic backwater. History shows that secret censorship systems, whatever their original intent, are invariably corrupted into anti-democratic behavior

Chief Censor Sentator Conroy has aleady admitted his fitering scheme will be used to block legal material as well as illegal material (you know, the kind of stuff you can buy on the top shelves of newsagents – except if you live near a mining site, then its right by the cash register instead). The initial law was strictly to block illegal material such as Child Pr0n* and material that incites terrorism and other evil stuff like that. However now the somebody-please-think-of-the-children thought police have got their way and this has been expanded to “inappropriate” sites … legal gambing sites for example, like BetFair.com, are apparently on the blacklist. Of course, it would not suprise me if the Aussie equivelent of the RIAA, the ARIA, and the MPAA are fevereshly lobbying their cause, persuading Conroy to block peer-to-peer technologies in this filter, fresh on their success in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Nanny State forgets is that as soon as you make something illegal, all that happens is its driven underground. Techologies already exist that will bypass such censorship. Look at drug smuggling which is rife thoughout the world and mostly illegal. Even worse, they also make it more difficult for the authorites to locate and capture the bastards involved in activities such as terrorism and child pr0nography.

My previous position, that this funding should be diverted to the AFP and international legal authorities to track down, capture and castrate (no anasthetic)  people involved in these dispicable acts and then lock them up for life, still stands.

Restricting debate and enforcing your views through legal means on others in a Nanny State solution only drives the problem further underground. More debate here, and here, and here … while we still can.

US Elections: What if WE could vote?

Today Americans go to the polls to vote in a new president.

Now it is a completely fair call to hear comments from Americans such as Who cares? Its our president we’re voting for, not yours. However, for better or for worse, the United States pretty much the only superpower left since the end of the Cold War.

By basically ignoring the will of the United Nations (who unfortunately are good at talking, but not at action), the USA pretty much sets the agenda for the world. For whatever reason, we all suffer when the US decides to set that agenda -whether its illegal wars in the Middle East, or dodgy economic practices and fraudulent activites in the financial sector, or blatantly ignoring the issues of global warming and the destruction of the natural environment; we all collectively have to suffer for the actions of their elected government. America sneezes, the rest of the world catches the ‘flu.

So … three Icelandic guys came up with a thought experiement. Today anyone can vote at iftheworldcouldvote.com. And it is very interesting the results so far. Wether this is a result of media portrayal (unlikely – given most global media outlets are not biased like the US ones are) or by a global disenchantment with the US Administration (which reflects on peoples views about the US in general), i don’t know. But as of the time of writing, and evene acknowledging that the result isn’t totally scientific, 97% of the world wants Obama to be the next president. Time for change.

I believe the world should wake up. The past eight years of a single country’s administration ignoring world opinion on a variety of issues and taking unilateral action. The United Nations needs to get more teeth, or at least another superpower to provide a balance. China in particular could become that superpower, but I personally don’t agree with the communist ideals. Russia seems to be going backwards into the cold war scenario under its current leadership (even if he is no longer the president).

I believe that if Europe could get its act together, stop the internal bickering, put the past in the past (the UK and France are the guilty parties here – move on!) and speak with a common voice, it would be the ideal counterbalance to keep the US in check. And hopefully, we don’t have to suffer the past eight years of agony again.

Opinion: Daylight Savings Time in SE Queensland

The issue of Daylight Savings Time for South-East Queensland has continually dogged the State Government and local pollies, including the new premier, Anna Bligh.

It is a very controversial topic. Indeed having lived in South East Queensland for a couple of years now, I know how much of a pain it is to get woken up by the strong sun at 5.30am and for it to be night again by 6pm. And, given our physical location of just above the 30 degree latitude, these times remain approximately the same throughout the year.

The pro-DST lobby, on the other hand, cite the cost to local businesses for not being “in sync” with businesses and government in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra; the personal cost to people who have to go to work meetings in those cities when they observe DST (i.e. they have to take the 5am flight out of Brisbane instead of the 6am flight to arrive on time … which generally means having to fly down the night before); and the impact it has in general health-wise on the population of the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

The anti-daylight savings time lobby, predominately those from the Tropical and Regional areas, have some good arguments against implementing it; mostly complaining about Brisbanites and Business continually whining until they get their way. To her credit, Anna Bligh has decided that there will no longer be a referendum on this, as she needs to govern the whole of Queensland, and not just the South-East corner.

I personally am divided on this issue. On the one hand, it would be a lot nicer to have a beer after work as night falls; and not having to wake up early due to the bright sunlight or having to catch a stupidly early flight to comply with Qantas’ and Virgin’s view to schedule their flights around Mexican Standard Time (erm – sorry I mean Daylight Savings Time in NSW and VIC). But on the other hand, in Tropical and Regional QLD the introduction of DST would impact their communities even worse. Apparently, the curtains would fade faster and the cows would get confused.

I guess just because of my tounge-in-cheek anti-Southern State views I guess I would have to oppose the introduction of DST, I mean how can anyone like a sport where two teams just kick the ball to each other? And of course, it certainly puts Queensland on the map of the world, we officially have our own time zone (UTC+1000 Brisbane).

Still, a great article from a pro-DST journo which claims in the 273-page Government Report into the issue:

[…] showed the reasons some people were against moving clocks forward were as petty as ‘it would be no benefit to me’.

One woman said it just meant her husband would stay in the pub longer and, despite Premier Anna Bligh’s denials, some farmers were still concerned their livestock would get confused.

I would just love to see this report, but not been able to find it. Can anyone who does post a link?

If a couple of hundred retirees in the outback have blocked Daylight Savings Time just because they want to stop hubby staying in the pub longer and the cows getting confused, I would be p!ssing myself laughing about that for the rest of the week.

Chasers War on Sydney APEC Security: The Video

It was aired last night on the ABC. Media reports say that over 2.3 million people watched it last night, just in the Capital Cities alone. Which, I find amazing given that this is over 10% of the Australian population, and Wednesday evenings are usually reserved for the pub quiz or a barbie.

Those of you in Australia can download the full episode from the ABC, those internationally can find a higher-quality video, and those who are too lazy can just see it below.

Chasers’ War on Sydney APEC Security

Well, it had to happen didn’t it.

The Federal and NSW Governments spent over $250m on securing the Sydney CBD for the ongoing 2007 APEC Summit.

Two of the Chaser’s War on Everything guys, not only did they get waved through two checkpoints and posing as the Canadian motorcade, thy got as far as near Dubya’s hotel before being stopped, arrested and charged under the APEC Act.

The APEC Act restricts people from being in the “secure area” without justification during the summit (a case of guilty until you prove yourself innocent?). Even the ABC’s own report states that they didn’t intend to get as far as they did.

True, Chas being dressed up as Bin Laden during the stunt probably didn’t help, but is bloody funny.

This incident is highly embarrasing for the police, federal and state governments who have essentially fallen for the old trick of Social Engineering to bypass Security measures. For example, the media are reporting that it was due to a “breakdown in communication”, but surely they could have checked to see if the Canadians were in town in the first place (the Canadian PM hasn’t even arrived in Australia yet).

Of course, its not the only Security gaffe so far. Two “unauthorised” men were arrested for being in the hotel lobby when Dubya arrived. Two members of the Labor party were issued police passes for the security zone.

With the global media (so far: CNN, el Reg via Reuters, Australian news.com.au, etc) already covering the story, I believe its likely that they will be made an example of when they front court in Early October.

Hopefully, these minor gaffes will jolt the authorities into a proper state of alert, against real risks or threats. Personally, i can’t wait until next weeks’ episode of The Chaser as they’ll be taking the piss big time.