Australian News


Concern about ‘big brother’ surveillance in Moreton Bay area, privacy commissioner reviewing use

big brother facebook

8th Feb 2016

Queensland’s privacy commissioner is reviewing new ‘big brother’ surveillance technology being used to record video and audio of members of the public in the Moreton Bay area.

Yesterday, the Moreton Bay Regional Council announced it had deployed about 330 new devices in public spaces, with plans to install dozens more.

Mayor Allan Sutherland said it would help boost community safety.

“Moreton Bay Region now has the ability to not only see what’s going on, but to be able to hear what’s going on,” he said.

“We don’t listen on a daily basis; as requested if the police come along and say: ‘Can we have the footage?’

“Unless you’ve got anything to hide, you haven’t got anything to worry about.”

The devices record and store data for several weeks.

Council ‘very scant on details’

Queensland’s privacy commissioner Phil Green said he was enquiring to see if the use of the technology breached privacy laws.

“I’m still in the fact-finding mode — I obviously don’t act rashly, I’m trying to look into this and have a rational good public debate on the issue,” he said.

“If the public aren’t happy with this sort of development, then the State Government can enact laws, but I think the laws already possibly stop this sort of thing happening.”

He said the private sector could soon follow suit, unless privacy laws were clarified.

“Do the public want it? Because if councils do it, then the universities do it, and the hospitals do it,” Mr Green said.

“If it’s one council doing it, then it could be all the councils doing it across Australia, so we do need to look at it carefully.”

Mr Green said his office was only informed last week.

“I understand my office did receive a draft press release about it, but very scant on details and of course that’s probably not the best way of going about launching something about this when it involves a fair investment,” Mr Green said.

Council has not breached any laws, spokesperson says

Councillor Sutherland was unable to comment on the development, but in a statement a spokesperson said the council had not breached any laws.

“Council provided a copy of its proposed media release and advisory signage to staff from the Office of the Information Commissioner,” the statement said.

“Council is satisfied its use of the CCTV footage and audio is consistent with its obligations under the Information Privacy Act.”

In the last budget, council announced $801,000 would be spent on upgrading surveillance cameras across public areas.

Some of the new cameras have been deployed in locations including Centenary Lakes Park in Caboolture, Burpengary Sports Precinct, and Bee Gees Way at Redcliffe.

‘Big brother’ watching and listening

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said the public should be concerned.

“It seems that not only big brother is watching but in the guise of the Moreton Bay council, he’s also listening,” Mr Potts said.

“I can understand why people in a public place may have no expectation of privacy, but their ordinary conversations about their friends, about their families, about their work and just the ordinary social chit-chat, should always remain completely sacrosanct.

“If the Mayor was fair dinkum in his argument that only those people who have something to hide would object to being listened to by the Moreton Bay Regional Council, perhaps he could volunteer to be listened to seven days a week, 24 hours a day, by his constituents before he understand the value of privacy.”

source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-07/concern-big-brother-surveillance-moreton-bay-council-privacy/8249262

Australia PM adviser says climate change is ‘UN-led ruse to establish new world order’

global warming

24th Jan 2016

Climate change is a hoax developed as part of a secret plot by the United Nations to undermine democracies and takeover the world, a top adviser to Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, has warned.

Maurice Newman, the chief business adviser to the prime minister, said the science showing links between human activity and the warming climate was wrong but was being used as a “hook” by the UN to expand its global control.

“This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN,” he wrote in The Australian.

“It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.” Born in Ilford, England, and educated in Australia, Mr Newman, a staunch conservative and former chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange, has long been an outspoken critic of climate change science.

He was appointed chairman of the government’s business advisory council by Mr Abbott, who himself is something of a climate change sceptic and once famously described climate change as “absolute cr**” – a comment he later recanted.

In his comment piece – described by critics as “whacko” – Mr Newman said the world has been “subjected to extravagance from climate catastrophists for close to 50 years”.

“It’s a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models we are told prove the link between human CO2 emissions and catastrophic global warming have been found, after nearly two decades of temperature stasis, to be in error,” he wrote.

“The real agenda is concentrated political authority. Global warming is the hook. Eco-catastrophists [ …] have captured the UN and are extremely well funded. They have a hugely powerful ally in the White House.”

Environmental groups and scientists described Mr Newman as a ‘crazed’ conspiracy theorist and some called on him to resign.

“His anti-science, fringe views are indistinguishable from those made by angry trolls on conspiracy theory forums,” said the Climate Change Council.

Professor Will Steffen, a climate change scientist, told The Australian Financial Review: “These are bizarre comments that would be funny if they did not come from [Mr Abbott’s] chief business adviser.” Mr Abbott’s office did not respond but his environment minister said he did not agree with Mr Newman’s comments.

The article was written by Mr Newman to coincide with a visit by Christiana Figueres, the UN climate change negotiation, who has urged Australia to reduce its reliance on coal. Australia is one of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon emissions per capita.

Since his election in 2013, Mr Abbott has abolished Labor’s carbon tax, scaled back renewable energy targets and appointed sceptics to several significant government positions.

 

 

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/11591193/Australia-PM-advisor-says-climate-change-a-UN-led-ruse.html

Biometric recognition at airport border ​​raises privacy concerns, says expert

orwell-was-right

24th Jan 2017

A plan to rely on biometric recognition to further automate airport border processing raises privacy and ethical concerns about data security, according to an expert.

But another information security analyst says the plan – which would involve 90% of passengers being processed through Australian airport immigration without human involvement – would not present any more privacy concerns than current border control regimes.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is tendering for a company to provide it with an “automated processing solution” to support its “seamless traveller” plan, which would allow for the automated processing of passengers using biometric identification.

Tender documents say 90% of passengers would go through through automated processing points, which would rely on biometric capturing “including but not limited to facial, iris and fingerprints”.

The department said it was expecting incoming air passengers to Australia to increase dramatically in coming years, and wanted to ensure they could move seamlessly through airports without compromising border security.

However, University of Wollongong tech and biometrics expert Prof Katina Michael said such technology had not been proven to have improved security or airport efficiency.

Michael said the plan posed a risk to individual privacy and raised ethical dilemmas that had not been properly explained to the public.

“We are steam-training right through all of these technological transitions and we’re not really thinking about the ramifications,” she said. “Even if the system works, is that ethical to impose this system on the entire populace, without even asking them? I see the perceived benefit, but what I do know is that there will be real costs, human costs, not only through the loss of staff through automation, but also through discrimination of people who may appear different.”

Michael said recent threats to the security of government-held data such as the census failure should raise real concerns about the storage of biometric data en masse.

“I am worried about theft, I don’t buy the story that your data is safe. I think we’ve become almost complacent ‘oh there’s been another data breach. Oh they hacked in and stole the data’,” she said. “Is the next phase of rollout going to be ‘oh my e-health records were taken’, ‘oh my biometrics at border control were taken’?”

But others have played down concerns about the government’s plan. Information security expert and reporter Patrick Gray said airport passengers were already the subject of heavy surveillance and biometric testing.

Gray said the government’s plan appeared to simply make the recognition process less clunky than the current SmartGate systems used in Australian airports.

“Airports are already among the most surveilled places on the planet. The time to be worrying about this is when someone seriously proposes running live facial recognition against CCTV in public places like city streets and train stations with insufficient oversight on use. Then we’ve got a problem,” he said.

“Better, highly-automated facial recognition is going to be a massive privacy issue one day, but the technology at least makes sense in airports.”

According to tender documents, the government wants to replace the incoming passenger card, eliminate the need for physical tickets at border control, and allow some passengers to travel using contactless technology, which would remove the need to present a passport.

Manual marshall points for triaging passengers would be removed, and replaced with more automated processes. The technology would be trialled at Canberra airport, and later deployed at nine Australian airports.

 

source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/24/biometric-recognition-at-airport-border-raises-privacy-concerns-says-expert

President Trump signs order to withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership

yaas

24th Jan 2017

President Trump began recasting America’s role in the global economy Monday, canceling an agreement for a sweeping trade deal with Asia that he once called a “potential disaster.”

Trump signed the executive order formally ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Oval Office after discussing American manufacturing with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room. The order was largely symbolic — the deal was already essentially dead in Congress — but served to signal that Trump’s tough talk on trade during the campaign will carry over to his new administration.

Trump did not directly address the North American Free Trade Agreement on Monday as he had promised during the election. However, he repeated his threat to punish U.S. companies that build factories overseas and ship products back home — a charge he has primarily leveled at automakers with operations in Mexico. And his hard-line opening stance could portend a contentious renegotiation of the 22-year-old deal with Mexico and Canada that Trump’s senior advisers have called a top priority for the new administration.

“This abrupt action so early in the Trump administration puts the world on notice that all of America’s traditional economic and political alliances are now open to reassessment and renegotiation,” said Eswar Prasad, trade policy professor at Cornell University. “This could have an adverse long-run impact on the ability of the U.S. to maintain its influence and leadership in world economic and political affairs.”

The TPP was one of former president Barack Obama’s signature efforts, part of a broader strategy to increase American clout in Asia and provide a check on China’s economic and military ambitions. Several of the executives Trump met with Monday initially had supported the agreement, while the chief architect of the administration’s trade policy, Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, was also once a booster for the deal.

But ending TPP was one of the clarion calls of Trump’s campaign, part of a global backlash against the drive toward greater internationalization that has defined the world economy since the end of World War II. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is in the midst of navigating her country’s own break from established trading partners, is slated to visit with Trump later this week. A White House spokesman said meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are in the works.

“What we want is fair trade,” Trump said during his meeting with executives. “And we’re gonna treat countries fairly, but they have to treat us fairly.”

Trump starts unveiling trade agenda while Cabinet nominees continue confirmation process

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President Trump started his first full week in office Jan. 23 by signing an executive order ending U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Since the election, TPP has become politically toxic in both parties. On Monday, five Democratic senators introduced legislation that would require the president to notify each of the 11 other countries involved in the deal of the United States’ withdrawal. It would also block any so-called “fast track” approval of the agreement in the future. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka hailed the president’s executive order and called for additional action.

“They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy,” he said in a statement.

On Monday, Trump highlighted his proposal for a border tax as a centerpiece of the administration’s trade policy. Dow Chemical Chief Executive Andrew Liveris, who was among the business leaders who met with Trump on Monday morning, said the border tax was discussed extensively. He said the executives were asked to return in 30 days with a plan to shore up the manufacturing industry.

“I would take the president at his word here,” Liveris said. “He’s not going to do anything to harm competitiveness. He’s going to actually make us all more competitive.”

Still, it remains unclear exactly how a border tax would be implemented. Testifying before the Senate finance committee last week, Trump’s nominee to lead the Treasury Department said any border tax would be targeted at specific businesses. However, the president does not have the power to levy taxes, and international trade experts have warned singling out companies could violate existing treaties.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has proposed allowing businesses that export goods to deduct many of their expenses, while those that import would not receive the same benefit. But in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump dismissed the plan, known as border adjustment, as “too complicated.”

Economists have warned that many of Trump’s proposals — including suggestions that he would impose blanket double-digit tariffs on goods from Mexico and China — could backfire on the American economy by causing prices to rise or igniting a trade war. And business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had lobbied extensively for passage of TPP, touting the deal as an engine of job growth and an important check on China’s growing ambitions.

“TPP withdrawal will slow U.S. [economic] growth, cost American jobs, & weaken U.S. standing in Asia/world,” said Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a tweet early Monday. “China could well be principal beneficiary.”

But other industry groups argued that Trump’s approach would better leverage America’s status as the world’s largest economy. Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said his group is hoping that opening up NAFTA could provide more leeway to combat currency manipulation in countries outside the agreement. His group, which represents both industry and unions, is also seeking more stringent rules of origin that dictate how much production must occur with member countries to qualify for free trade status.

“The details are going to matter a lot,” Paul said. “Renegotiating NAFTA obviously entails some risks and some rewards.”

 

source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/01/23/president-trump-signs-order-to-withdraw-from-transpacific-partnership/?utm_term=.1a3656fb8df3

Centrelink referring Twitter users to Lifeline amid debt-recovery efforts

stupid-fat

5th Jan 2016

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said this week about $300 million had been recovered, part of a target of $4 billion in recovered payments for household, unemployment and student support.

The agency’s official Twitter account has been communicating with users concerned about receiving debt notices during the Christmas period and has referred some to Lifeline, the 24-hour crisis support and suicide-prevention service.

Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said on Thursday the process was not linked to the department’s new debt compliance activities.

“It is a long-established process that we provide information about the department’s social work services to customers who are at-risk, or who threaten suicide or self-harm.

“We take all mentions of this nature seriously,” he said.

“At times, particularly when outside the department’s business hours, details for Lifeline are offered as they are available to help people when we aren’t open.

“This process was established with advice from social work experts and is reviewed yearly. We treat the welfare of our customers with paramount importance.”

Centrelink’s phone services have not been experiencing higher-than-usual demand, despite more than 170,000 welfare recipients receiving letters about possible eligibility problems or overpayments.

The agency’s average wait times are about 16 minutes and clients can also access services via the government’s MyGov website.

Mr Jongen said social workers and departmental staff behind Centrelink’s social media accounts provide support and intervention to customers at risk of suicide or suffering from mental distress.

“This includes ensuring the person is safe and making referrals for further assistance.

“We want to ensure people have access to vital services whenever they need it, and we stand by our commitment to make referrals to these external support services – especially out of usual business hours.”

On Wednesday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie said he’d had four people approach his office who he believed were suicidal or at risk of self-harm because of the letters.

Labor and politicians including former Greens leader Christian Milne and South Australian Xenophon Team MP Rebecca Sharkie have slammed the government’s response to the problems.

The opposition has called for the automated systems to be halted or scrapped until the relevant algorithm can be fixed and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office is seeking information from Centrelink after being asked to investigate by Mr Wilkie.

Mr Porter said this week the complaint rate from the debt recovery letters was low, with only 276 complaints resulting from some 169,000 letters.

Contact Lifeline if you require assistance: 13 11 14.

 

source: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/centrelink-referring-twitter-users-to-lifelife-amid-debtrecovery-efforts-20170105-gtmg1u.html

 

 

If you would like to see what the Australian Government doesn’t bother to get control of…

 

Eighty-eight million, seven hundred & seventeen thousand, six hundred & fifty‑two dollars and five cents per day…on “defence”

https://www.aspi.org.au/publications/the-cost-of-defence-aspi-defence-budget-brief-2016-2017

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $365.7 million in total ODA to Indonesia in 2016-17, including an estimated $296 million in bilateral funding managed by DFAT.

http://dfat.gov.au/geo/indonesia/development-assistance/pages/development-assistance-in-indonesia.aspx

 

Experts urge blood banks to stop accepting blood contaminated with chemicals in Defence Force land scandal

system-failure
23rd Nov 2016

CHEMICAL experts say blood banks should stop accepting donated blood containing high levels of the potentially deadly chemicals at the centre of the Australian Defence Force contamination crisis.

However, Red Cross Blood Service spokeswoman Rebecca DiGirolamo insists there is “no evidence” to suggest donations with large amounts of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) pose a risk to recipients.

But contamination experts disagree and are urging blood banks to immediately cease using donations containing high levels of the toxins.

The warning came after Adelaide man Geoff Fuller, who had a 36-year career as a firefighter at airports including Adelaide Airport, was informed by the blood service last week that he was no longer allowed to donate blood.

Mr Fuller, a regular donor, said he was told so after tests revealed he had high levels of PFOS and PFOA — part of the per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) group of toxins — in his system.

However, two days later Mr Fuller, of Underdale, was contacted by the service and told staff at the blood bank had overreacted and would resume accepting his blood.

PFOS and PFOA, which have contaminated more than a dozen army, navy and air force bases, including the Edinburgh RAAF base, have been linked to cancer in people and animals in numerous studies across the world.

The toxins, which do not break down in the environment, were used in firefighting foam at defence bases and airports until the early 2000s.

Professor Ravi Naidu, from independent contamination research and assessment organisation CRC Care, was adamant blood banks should not accept donations from people with high levels of PFOS and PFOA in their system.

He warned there was “significant risk” associated with transfusing blood contaminated with the toxins.

“Donations from people who have been exposed to PFAS and who demonstrate presence of PHAS must not be accepted,” Professor Naidu said.

Dr Marianna Lloyd-Smith, from the National Toxics Network, agreed blood donations should not be accepted from people who have been exposed to high levels of PFOS and PFOA.

“They have significantly higher levels and you really wouldn’t want them to be giving blood,” she said.

“I would suggest that they speak to their blood donation officers and tell them. I (also) think the blood banks need to be proactive and ask people.”

Blood testing of some aviation firefighters has found their levels

 

source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/news-story/ec49c3164e9343b5773ce8f807af4140

Undisclosed “dark money” makes up most of the cash going to political parties

shha

16th Nov 2016

Australia’s ineffective political donation laws have allowed 85 per cent of all private money going to major parties avoid scrutiny while more than half remains entirely undisclosed, a new report has found.

Research by University of New South Wales lecturer and former Howard government adviser Belinda Edwards finds that disclosure of donations to political parties in Australia has become effectively optional, with sums of as much as $20 million easily hidden using so-called donation splitting and other methods.

Bank halts political donations

The National Australia Bank has stopped donating to political parties, concerned about the public perception.

Released by left-wing activist group GetUp!, the report finds that after the 2013 election, the Coalition and Labor declared less than 25 per cent of their privately raised income as donations to the Australian Electoral Commission.

About half of the cash came from a range of party fundraising bodies, leaving between 12 and 15 per cent clearly linked to specific political donors.

Liberal Party-linked groups, including the Free Enterprise Foundation, the controversial Parkeelia organisation, the Platinum Forum and the Kooyong Club accounted for $6.01 million of $10.3m in declared donations in 2014-2015.

Key Labor-linked groups included Labor Holdings, the Progressive Business Associations, the 1973 Foundation, John Curtin House and the Chifley Research Centre made up $4.2m of $7.3m in declared donations in 2014-15.

Donations from trade unions to Labor accounted for a further $1.2m of the total.

The report finds that of the payments received by the Liberal Party at the 2013 election just 25 per cent – $19.3 million – was declared as donations.

In the past 10 years, the share of Liberal Party income declared as donations has dropped from 30 per cent in the 2007-08 election to a quarter in 2013-14.

Labor’s income is less clear because its total fell in the same period, but the party also recorded 25 per cent of income from donations in 2013-14, down from 30 per cent in 2007-08.

The report finds the majority of funds going to the major parties are undisclosed.

For the Liberal Party, the total is 63 per cent, or $48 million, compared with Labor’s 50 per cent, or $23 million.

Of contributions to the Nationals, 79 per cent, or $4 million, were undisclosed while the Greens recorded 85 per cent or $8.9 million in undisclosed income.

Dr Edwards said the Australian Electoral Commission database is difficult for researchers and journalists to use effectively while “significant transparency problems” exist in disclosure mechanisms themselves.

“Australia’s financial disclosure system is sufficiently poor that the most useful way to make sense of the political donations landscape is to map what we do not know,” Dr Edwards said.

“It is to map out how much ‘dark money’ is in the system which is not being adequately disclosed.

“The volume of ‘dark money’ in the system undermines the confidence that the public can have in being able to interpret the payments that are disclosed, and undermines the integrity of Australia’s financial disclosure regime.”

GetUp! campaigns director Natalie O’Brien said the report showed donation disclosure was causing the public to lose trust in politics.

“Australian law requires all payments to politicians over $13,200 to be publicly declared – an important transparency measure to stop corruption,” she said.

“But right now there are gaping legal loopholes that see tens of millions of dollars funnelled into the pockets of our politicians with no oversight, no accountability.

“Using these loopholes, it’s possible to funnel $20 million a year to political parties with zero scrutiny. The current disclosure system is completely broken.”

GetUp! has called on federal parliament to require real time, online disclosure for donations of $500 or more and for a $1000 financial year cap on donations from individuals or corporations.

Current rules require donations of more than $13,200 to be disclosed, but some donors split contributions into smaller amounts on different days or to different party branches to avoid having to identify themselves.

The federal government has asked a parliamentary committee to consider a ban on foreign donations, a move supported in principle by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the opposition. Labor has called for the disclosure threshold to be lowered to a fixed $1000 and for a ban on donation splitting.

 

 

source: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/undisclosed-dark-money-makes-up-most-of-the-cash-going-to-political-parties-20161114-gspeoa.html

Mark Kendall wins CSL Young Florey Medal with nanopatch vaccine technology

billgatesmicrochipsm

10th Nov 2016

A Queensland scientist has been awarded one of the nation’s highest science honours for his pioneering work on needle-free vaccines.

The University of Queensland’s biomedical scientist, Professor Mark Kendall, won the CSL Young Florey Medal for his nanopatch technology.

The nanopatch took 20 years to develop and is set to revolutionise immunisation around the world, delivering vaccines through the upper layers of the skin.

“Howard Florey was an amazing individual. He made penicillin happen for the world and saved so many lives,” Professor Kendall said.

“To have a medal in his name is amazing.”

Professor Kendall first explored hypersonics to deliver vaccines, and his “gene gun” released vaccine particles at twice the speed of sound.

“But it turned out too expensive, too complicated – it was a rocket,” he said.

Professor Kendall started mapping the skin’s immune system, inventing the nanopatch that delivers vaccines by targeting immune-rich cells in the skin.

“The nanopatch is a tiny piece of silicon with 20 thousand microscopic needles on one side, coated with a dry vaccine,” he said.

“When you apply the patch to the skin, that tough outer layer of the skin is breached and the vaccine is placed to thousands of cells in the skin.

“It gets wet in the cellular environment and within just a minute the vaccine has been delivered.”

Pain-free nanopatch may relegate needle to history

Professor Kendall said the nanopatch was pain free and could relegate the 160-year-old needle and syringe to history.

Professor Kendall said the nanopatch has been tested for every class of vaccine including influenza, malaria and cervical cancer.

His team has partnered with the World Health Organisation to run a polio vaccine trial next year.

Unlike conventional vaccines, the nanopatch does not need refrigeration.

In the event of a pandemic, it can be mailed out for people to self-administer.

Currently, some vaccines like HPV can cost about $50 to deliver.

Professor Kendall hopes to produce nanopatch vaccines that cost $0.50 per dose, which would be cheap enough to use in developing countries.

“I want to make a difference and to be remembered as someone who at least contributed,” he said.

 

 

source:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-09/matt-kendall-wins-csl-young-florey-medal-with-nanopatch/8008852

Big four banks destroy 1.6 million paper land titles in push to digital versions

jedic-mind

4th Nov 2016

The mass destruction of paper titles and their replacement with electronic certificates has been questioned by property lawyers who fear it will compromise security and effectively outsource the 150-year-old Torrens title system to private operators.

The Law Institute of Victoria has been an outspoken critic of the electronic system, arguing it increases costs for consumers, undermines those holding titles for security against other assets, and adds complexity and legal uncertainty to a what was once a simple, safe system.

The changes were ushered in by the Registrar of Titles who declared in a notice in the Victoria Government Gazette that paper based titles will be void and of no effect from October 22, 2016.

Property owners whose paper land titles are held by major banks were not told their title documents have been destroyed.

The conversion of paper certificates of title to electronic versions was part of a national push to electronic conveyancing on the PEXA system, a spokesman for Land Victoria said.

PEXA is owned by state governments, the ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac, Macquarie Bank and private equity.

“If landowners wish to get a paper title when their mortgage is paid out, they can do so,” the spokesman said.

Bruce King from Kirby & Co. Solicitors said he conducted his first property transaction on the system last week and it was more expensive.

The transaction went smoothly but other lawyers encountered difficulties with banks failing to nominate a controlling entity which meant some settlements didn’t get through, he said.

PEXA chief executive Marcus Price said paper titles were cumbersome to use. “People keep losing them, including banks,” he said.

Most property fraud occurs with unencumbered paper titles being taken and used by other family members, he said.

“This is a long overdue catch-up by property to the two other big assets, shares and cash, which are exchanged electronically,” Mr Price said.

“It is ultimately a much safer system,” he said.

PEXA was set up in 2010 with federal government support after a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments urged modernisation of the antiquated system of paper-based transfers used by land titles offices and conveyancers.

The Titles Office in NSW is in the process of being privatised and South Australia is considering similar plans.

 

 

 

source:http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/big-four-banks-destroy-16-million-paper-land-titles-in-push-to-digital-versions-20161028-gsdcgn.html

Huge gap opens between WA’s rich and poor: new economics report

australian-flag

22nd Oct 2016

THERE is still a huge gap between the rich and the poor, underemployment has risen and Western Australia’s gross state product growth has dropped.

According to a new Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre report the poorest 20 per cent of WA households hold just 0.8 per cent of the state’s total net wealth.

Back to the Future, released on Wednesday night, examined the state’s economic trends following the post-mining boom.

It found the wealthiest 20 per cent of WA households hold almost two-thirds of the state’s total net household wealth.

BCEC director Alan Duncan said a quarter of single WA women didn’t have superannuation assets, compared to one in ten men.

“This had created a noticeable and persistent gender wealth gap,” he said.

“There are also strong signals emanating from the labour market that career pathways will be less straightforward.

“For the first time since 2006, WA’s unemployment rate has surpassed the nation’s.”

Furthermore, the report found the underemployment ratio has risen in WA more rapidly than other states and territories.

Underemployment increased to 10 per cent in 2016, it was six per cent in 2011.

“Labour demand has also been decreasing with the WA Internet Vacancy Index recently falling below the national rate,” Professor Duncan said.

“More West Australians will need to hold multiple jobs at any point in time to make up preferred work hours and multiple job turnovers and career shifts.

“Mining continues to be the primary contributor to the state’s economic output after the boom, despite the mining labour force shrinking by 20 per cent in the past three years.”

Although the employment share of the health care and social assistance industry has grown.

Health care and social services, and arts and recreation had the highest employment growth rates in 2014-15.

“After a prolonged period of economic growth driven by the resources boom, WA’s economic trajectory has returned to a ‘new normal’ which is more consistent with national economic growth rates,” Professor Duncan said.

“A key consideration is whether we have the right policy settings in place to manage the future of work which is increasingly precarious.”

Other key findings:

• WA’s gross state product growth rate dropped from 9 per cent in 2011-12 to 3.5 per cent in 2014-15, below the state’s long-term average growth rate of 4.7 per cent.

• WA’s mining workforce has shrunk from nearly 106,000 fulltime employees in mid-2013 to around 84,000 FTE by the end of 2015.

• The average inflation rate in Perth declined from 3 per cent during the resources boom to under 2 per cent during the post-boom period.

• For the first time since 2006, the WA’s unemployment rate surpassed the nation’s unemployment rate in mid-2015.

• As at August 2016, the unemployment rate in WA was over 6 per cent.

• WA’s migration numbers dipped from a net inflow of 8,898 in 2012 to a net outflow of 3,005 in 2015.

 

 

 

source:http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/huge-gap-opens-between-was-rich-and-poor-new-economics-report/news-story/c37a471d449c29d0a3b53d5845cdf60e