The Weekly Cybers #4
Wet-lettuce robodebt sanctions, more Digital ID special pleading, and the DTA almost does something.
This week the political journalists were focused on the Stage 3 tax changes and industrial relations laws. But as this lengthy email shows, a lot more than just the political headlines goes on when the ministers are in Canberra — especially after a break.
Public servants face wet-lettuce sanctions over robodebt
As The Saturday Paper’s Post newsletter reports today: “Four public servants have been handed preliminary determinations that they breached the APS code of conduct for their role in the illegal robodebt scheme while a further 11 people have been told they may have, as investigations continue.”
Now the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct is all well and good, but what are the actual penalties for going rogue, especially as rogue as robodebt was?
Well, for that we need to turn to the Public Service Act 1999 and, specifically, section 15(1), which lists the following potential sanctions: termination of employment; reduction in classification; re-assignment of duties; reduction in salary; deductions from salary, by way of fine; or, God forbid, a reprimand.
It is left as an exercise to the reader to discuss whether these draconian sanctions effectively counterbalance a long-running illegal operation that resulted in misery for more than half a million vulnerable people and even deaths.
Should you care, you can read more about the Robodebt Code of Conduct process.
Special pleading continues on Digital ID laws
As I’ve said before, if anyone wants to pay me to got through all of the other submissions, I’m game.
A public hearing was held today, and the transcript will be published on that page in due course. The inquiry’s final report is due to appear on 28 February.
I’m sure there’s some point to the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA)? Please let me know?
The DTA is reportedly making sure more government entities to agree to delivery milestones when being funded for digital projects. A naive observer might imagine that’s something that should always be agreed for every project everywhere, but after all this is the DTA we’re talking about.
The DTA has also released a list of digital projects underway across the federal government (PDF) showing their so-called Delivery Confidence Assessments. It’s been five years since this data was last released, yet even now there’s way too many “Yeah, dunno really” status markers.
Weird, really, because I’d been under the impression this was literally the DTA’s reason for existing.
Also in the news
- “Meta’s oversight board will examine two cases on how the social media giant handled potentially misleading posts that were shared ahead of the Australian referendum on Indigenous recognition in October last year,” reports iTnews.
- Also, NBN Co receiving more fibre orders than it can connect.
- Telcos will now have to do more to support customers who are struggling to pay their bills under new industry rules made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). They come into force on 29 March.
- ACMA has also issued a tender for strategic planning consultation services to finalise the framework for assessing how well the digital platforms are self-regulating their approach to dealing with disinformation and misinformation.
- Late last year the government said they’d create “a ‘must-carry’ prominence framework to ensure that local free-to-air television services can easily be found” on Smart TVs and such. Well now we have the exposure draft of the Broadcasting Services (Minimum Prominence Requirements) Regulations 2024. It’s not clear when submissions close, so if you care about how the government arranges the items on a Smart TV’s main menu then I’d get in quick. There’s some background at the Guardian.
- The Productivity Commission reckons there should be a Bureau of Indigenous Data to improve the quality of data collected about First Nations Australians.
- As reported in The Mandarin, “The Tech Policy Design Centre (TPDC) has been made a permanent fixture of the Australian National University to help design and develop the best responses to AI, cybersecurity and online privacy in the modern era”. It continues to be left by Johanna Weaver, who among other things has been the Australia’s cyber negotiator at the UN.
- There’s three new appointments to the National Science and Technology Council: Professor Mahananda Dasgupta, an international leader in accelerator-based nuclear fusion and fission; Professor Reuben Bolt, an expert in health and epidemiology, and now the first Indigenous Australian appointed to NSTC; and Professor Mark Hutchinson, “an Australian leader in translating fundamental science discoveries into economic value”.
- Veterans’ Affairs admits it misled Information Commissioner over medical records breach.
- Sam Lee appears in video promoting new investment scheme days after US fraud charges. Ah, the wonderful world of cryptocurrency!
- Australians love to talk about a ‘fair go’. Here’s what it meant before we became a nation.
- If you want far more cyber news with a global focus, I can recommend the free Daily Cyber and Tech Digest from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre in Canberra. So many Interesting Links every weekday.
Parliament continues next week. Only the House of Representatives is sitting — here’s the draft legislation program — while the Senate holds Estimates hearings. They’re usually quite fun.
Any questions or comments? Just reply to this email. Cheers.
The Weekly Cybers is a personal look at what the Australian government has been saying and doing in the digital and cyber realms, on various adjacent topics, and whatever else interests me, Stilgherrian, published every Friday afternoon (nearly).
If I’ve missed anything, or if there’s any specific items you’d like me to follow, please let me know.
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