Thursday, May 07, 2020

Early-access super scheme hacked

Federal police are investigating a data breach in the early-access superannuation scheme, as Labor warns the hack could undermine confidence in the ailing COVIDSafe app. There have been at least 100 cases of fraudulent activity affecting those who registered with the scheme, reports Sky News, with one applicant revealing they had details stolen and lost $10,000 from their super account. In a prepared statement the Australian Tax Office confirmed that “a small number of people appear to have had personal details unlawfully used in a bid to defraud the program.” Labor's financial services spokesman, Stephen Jones, told the ABC the breach could undermine confidence in the COVIDSafe tracing app, and that he would seek an explanation at this morning’s COVID-19 Senate committee hearing. The committee yesterday examined a raft of issues ($) with the app, which is still not being used to track cases of the virus, is inaccessible to some rural users and those with older phones, and some Apple iPhones are preventing connections to Bluetooth.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has given the operators of an aged-care facility in western Sydney riddled with Covid-19 until 5pm today to meet new conditions, or have its operating licence stripped. Guardian Australia reports that on Wednesday the regulator issued a notice to Anglicare, operator of the Newmarch House facility where 16 residents have died from the virus, raising concern about the “lack of suitable processes and systems in order to control transmission of the virus”. It warned that Anglicare must agree to the appointment of an independent advisor and demonstrate that the risk to residents has been addressed. It comes as two aged-care facilities in Victoria are testing residents for Covid-19 after staff members at both homes were separately diagnosed with the virus. One had connections with the Cedar Meats abattoir, the site of a major outbreak.

Royal commission findings on Cardinal George Pell’s handling of sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church are scheduled for public release this morning. The royal commission’s findings were heavily redacted to avoid prejudicing Pell’s trial. The cardinal’s acquittal by the high court has cleared the way for the documents to be formally tabled in the Senate, before being made public soon after. They are expected to detail whether Pell should have done more to prevent children from being abused by priests Gerald Ridsdale, Peter Searson and Christian Brother Ted Dowlan in the dioceses of Ballarat and Melbourne.

The European Union has drawn up a draft resolution backing calls for a review of the international response to Covid-19, including the World Health Organisation's performance. The resolution will be put up for debate at the World Health Assembly from May 18-19. European diplomats claimed the United States and China have taken part in negotiations on the EU resolution, which includes a commendation of WHO leadership. It comes as China demands evidence from the United States to back up its unverified claims that the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan. 


“Dr Kennedy told the senate committee this week that a subsidy scheme had long been under consideration. And while he confirmed Morrison’s assertion that the British model had been rejected ... there were good ideas to be gleaned from other countries. ‘There is sometimes a little bit of advantage in going a little bit behind someone else,’ he said. But there also was a big downside to waiting ... In the time between the government’s decision to increase the dole and the announcement of the JobKeeper payment, some 160,000 people lost their jobs.”


“For most businesses caught in the crosshairs of the Covid-19 pandemic, the one-two combination of ‘assessing the damage’ and ‘counting the cost’ has been the modus operandi … In the corridors of power at the National Rugby League and Rugby Australia there have also been carefully played hands of opportunism. During the past two weeks, the chief executives of both organisations – the NRL’s Todd Greenberg and RA’s Raelene Castle – have resigned, succumbing to myriad pressures pre-dating the pandemic. In each case, Covid-19 can be blamed only for expediting matters.”


“Zhao Lijian, then a low-level Chinese diplomat in Washington, joined Twitter. He was later reassigned to Islamabad, where he gained local notoriety for his bellicose put-downs of Pakistani critics of Beijing. His fame went global last July, when he responded to criticism of China’s mass internment of Uighurs with tweets highlighting racial segregation in America … Zhao is a pioneer of so-called ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy, known for its resolutely nationalist rhetoric. His career advancement has sent a message to Chinese diplomats around the world that such aggressive tactics will be rewarded.”


“Two more people have recovered from coronavirus in the NT as of Tuesday. There are now only three active cases of the virus in the Territory. Health Minister Natasha Fyles confirmed today that among the three cases still active are two members of the Australian Defence Force who arrived in Darwin from the Middle East on Friday.”


“The Australian Government has approved the deployment of US Marines to the Northern Territory this year after their original rotation was postponed in late March due to the coronavirus pandemic ... the risk of spreading COVID-19 into the Territory and its vulnerable remote Aboriginal communities was considered too great at the time.”


“So everybody has the ‘Flu’ at Heskell? I wish to goodness Miss Keck and Mrs. McK. would get it and die with it. Really, it would be such a good riddance, and not much lost either. – ‘Lutiant’ (Volunteer Nurse) to ‘Louise’, Oct.17, 1918.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.