Mike Pezzullo was sacked, digital ID legislation was tabled, another Optus inquiry was launched, and all manner of reports were published. Parliament is tidying up the loose ends as Christmas looms.
Here’s what I’ve noticed since the previous edition on 24 November.
- Goodbye Mike Pezzullo! Powerful home affairs boss Mike Pezzullo dumped after investigation into backchannel lobbying. Remarkable news for first thing Monday morning. As you may have noticed, I spoke about this on a podcast.
- In what I am sure is a compete and utter coincidence, on Friday the Remuneration Tribunal, as The Mandarin puts it, “cut off access to generous termination payout provisions for sacked departmental secretaries if they are booted after having been found to have breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct, deemed corrupt, or a sexual harasser or bully”.
- Stephanie Foster to clean up after Pezzullo as new head of Home Affairs.
- The digital ID legislation has been tabled. We have the Digital ID Bill 2023 and the Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023. They have now been spun out for committee review, due to report back by 28 February 2024. Submissions close 19 January.
- You’ll be thrilled to know that Digital identity costs hit $782 million as new laws introduced.
- We also have the Online Safety Amendment (Protecting Australian Children from Online Harm) Bill 2023. This is about “a trial of age verification technologies as a way of protecting children from online harms such as pornography”.
- Tech giants should face new watchdog, Australian Senate inquiry finds, as the Guardian puts it. “Committee recommends standalone agency that would give consumers and digital platforms a central place to direct complaints.”
- I’m sure you’ll want to read the actual report from that inquiry into the influence of international digital platforms.
- We also have the report from the inquiry into law enforcement capabilities in relation to child exploitation.
- The National Security Legislation Monitor urges open justice in national security cases, reports The Mandarin. Or as Bernard Keane puts it at Crikey, ‘Overreach from the start’: Security monitor drops a bomb on secrecy act.
- We have the terms of reference and other information on the Department of Communications Review into the Optus Outage of 8 November. Submissions close 22 December. Note that this is different from the Senate committee review.
- Australia’s Treasury has launched a consultation on mandatory industry codes “in relation to scam activity, with a focus on banks, digital communications platforms and telecommunications providers”. Submissions close 29 Jan 2024. I reckon they should make scams illegal.
- GovERP to be scaled back, reports iTnews. “A costly program to set up a common SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for the federal government is to be scaled back, with about 40 smaller entities able to make their own technology choices.”
- Government to tighten data centre efficiency rules.
- Australian privacy watchdog refuses to investigate employer that allegedly accessed worker’s personal emails.
- And finally, ‘Serious breach’: social media platform X booted from Australia’s misinformation code, although I suspect they don’t care.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if there’s any specific items you’d like me to follow.
Unless something changes, the Senate is sitting Monday to Thursday next week, with the House of Reps also sitting on Thursday to finish off parliamentary business for 2023.
Here’s the draft legislative program for the Senate. The schedule includes the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill 2023, the Identity Verification Services Bill 2023 and its companion bill, and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Consumer Data Right) Bill 2022.
There will doubtless then be a flurry of departmental consultations with deadlines in January. I’m sure this isn’t deliberate tactic to make it difficult for organisations to respond over the summer holidays.
[Photo: Disgraced and now sacked home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo.]