Month: June 2013

Malcolm Turnbull’s 18 Month “Administrative Error” with an NBN Investment….

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

A few weeks ago I wrote a couple of articles on some investments that The Turnbulls have made over the past few years in NBN contractors such as Siemens AG and Hochtief AG.  While Lucy and Malcolm Turnbull disposed of their shares in Siemens back in late 2011, according to Mr Turnbull’s Federal Statement of Pecuniary Interests at the time I wrote my original story, they still owned their shares in Hochtief, which owns 55% of Silcar Communications parent company, Leighton Holdings.

Photo courtesy of ABC News and ABC 7.30 - 9/4/13
Photo courtesy of ABC News and ABC 7.30 – 9/4/13

Fast forward a couple of weeks and Mr Turnbull has done a pretty abrupt about-face in regards to the Hochtief AG shares, stating that an “Administrative Error” stopped the shares from being listed as sold in February 2012 in his Pecuniary Interests.  Given that between Leighton Holdings subsidiaries  Silcar Communications ($1.1Billion) and Visionstream (approximately $2 Billion) that Hochtief AG stands to make a lot of money from NBN contracts, it is surprising that The Honourable Shadow Minister for Communications is now missing out on what would be a rather decent return for that particular firm and its subsidiaries over the coming years, given his knack for making profitable longterm investments.

What’s even more surprising though is that Mr Turnbull didn’t realise that the “administrative error” had reportedly taken place, until an intrepid young journalist wrote about Mrs Lucy Turnbull still owning shares in the NBN contractor, close to 18 months after the sale reportedly took place.

(Mr Turnbull’s latest Pecuniary Interests Statement is attached in the full version of this article)

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Cisco, Snowden, Canberra and Hacking…. Has Australia’s Parliament House been bugged?

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

Over the past couple of weeks since Edward Snowden started making accusations against the US Intelligence community as a whistleblower, there’s been a lot of focus on the level of engagement that IT companies such as Google, Skype, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo have with the more clandestine elements of the US government.

The NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, pictured in a hotel reportedly within Hong Kong. Photograph: The Guardian

But while there’s been a lot of public and media focus on these companies, there’s been next to no focus on the network infrastructure companies that provide the backbone hardware that actually allows the Internet and other modern telecommunications systems to work.  From Nokia Siemens Networks through to Huawei and Cisco, there’s been a lot of security and surveillance concerns raised over recent months, particularly amongst Cisco which has had major problems with phone and network hacking over recent years.

Now since Snowden’s story broke, there’s been a lot of talk about the NSA’s hacking of universities within Hong Kong and the potential information that they’ve been able to retrieve.  As a quick analysis of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s corporate agreements show, Cisco is a key strategic partner within Hong Kong’s entire telecommunications network.

Now as Synergy Research Group recently stated, Cisco currently holds the lion’s share of the network infrastructure market worldwide.  Between network Switches/Hubs, VoIP, UC Apps, Routers, Wireless and Telepresence, they are undoubtedly currently the dominant force when it comes to network infrastructure and development in the digital age. With market dominance in these areas ranging from 27% to 70% though, this can result in some pretty major security problems depending on how Cisco design and update their products.

This in turn is where The Columbia University Intrusion Detection Systems Lab comes in, along with their resident CISCO specialist, Ang Cui.

From 2009 onwards, Ang Cui has exposed some pretty extensive flaws within Cisco’s phone and networking products, as well as the operating systems and source code found within them. From using a Cisco telephone as an entry-point for a network-wide attack through to turning a handset microphone into an audio surveillance bug, Ang Cui has shown that both new and old Cisco products can have some pretty spectacular and nefarious applications when it comes to both industrial, corporate and governmental espionage.

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Kevin Rudd, Leadership Spills and the $6800-a-week Holiday House…..

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

Well if one thing is for certain, it’s that Barrie Cassidy and Phillip Coorey have lit one almighty big fire underneath the leadership of the Australian Labor Party, over the course of the past 36 hours. By letting the cat out of the bag in greater detail that there’s serious misgivings present within key parts of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s base, the commentary from both the Australian Financial Review and the ABC could be all that’s needed to spark yet another spill, given the dismal polls and other instances of disunity and resignation that have been going on within the ALP over the course of the past week.

Jessica Tse (Nee Rudd). Josephine Tse, The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP. (Left to Right) Photo courtesy of @Jess_Rudd

Now amidst the cries of “It’s all Kevin Rudd’s fault”, it’s worthwhile analysing the leadership capabilities and attitudes towards both office work and micro-management that both Rudd and Gillard possess.  While there’s no doubting that Rudd was an enfante’ terrible at times throughout his Prime Ministership, sometimes you’ve got to toss away the perspectives of party insiders, then re-analyse the core public data that we’re able to get our hands on about a particular individual in public life.  That means giving Rudd’s pecuniary interests the same treatment as I gave Gillard’s over the weekend.

Needless to say, Kevin Rudd is one very “thorough Grandpa Vegemite” for the most part when it comes to reporting gifts, accommodation and other financial interests…. All 70 pages of it….

House Committee – Member’s Interests – Declarations K Rudd 43rd Parliament

Note – This Pecuniary Interest Statement was obtained from an official APH Public Register, which is accessible to the public via the APH website.

Now as you can see from my previous comment, Kevin Rudd has been providing some extremely detailed commentary of his family’s activities over the course of the past three years.  From purchases of investment and residential properties in Canberra, Brisbane and Noosa, through to memberships with Chatham House, media proceeds, company sales and creations, not to mention even Marrow Chew bones for The Rudd’s faithfully-loyal hound Abby, it’s evident that the Registrar of Members’ Interests, Mr David Elder, probably would’ve had a howling good time keeping abreast of Mr Rudd’s submissions over the years.

However, here’s where things get interesting….

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A peruse through Prime Minister Gillard’s financial interests……

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

One of the more peculiar things that I’ve noticed about the current parliament is that nobody’s done a really thorough analysis of Prime Minister Julia Gillard‘s Pecuniary Interests (aka “Members’ Interests”) over the course of the past three years.  While there’s been the occasional reference to her house in the Electorate of Lalor and Mr Tim Mathieson buying a small amount of land as a weekender, there’s been little to no examination of whether or not she’s been regularly receiving gifts throughout her administration and if she’s been properly reporting them on time.  The same goes for shares, trusts and other sources of funds that she may have access to as a result of her relationship with Mathieson, not to mention the death of her father in 2012.

Take for example the limited number of pecuniary interest statements that Prime Minister Gillard has supplied to the Registrar of Members’ Interests over the course of the past 18 months.

House Committee Pmi Declarations Gillardj – 43rd Parliament by thedeadlynewt

Note – This Pecuniary Interest Statement was obtained from an official APH Public Register, which is accessible to the public via the APH website.

Now whenever a Head of Government is overseas for high level talks, they are normally provided with gifts of one sort or another from either the government, association or individual that they are being hosted by, not to mention receiving preferential treatment amongst various service providers and their facilities. As of early April the Prime Minister had clocked up an impressive tally of 23 nations that she’s visited during her term in office, with various nations receiving multiple visits throughout that time.  This was at it’s peak in 2012, with Prime Minister Gillard making an astounding 10 foreign visits, which in one year nearly allowed her to eclipse her predecessor “Kevin747” Rudd’s tally of 14 overseas visits, which were predomiantly conducted during the initial throes of the Global Financial Crisis.

If you looked at the Prime Minister’s pecuniary interests however you would find this hard to believe though, as most of the 4 submissions that she made to the register throughout this time were in relation to her partner, Mr Mathieson. Since early February 2012, Prime Minister Gillard has received 9 gifts from both foreign and domestic sources, while Mr Mathieson has received over 14 instances of accommodation, flight upgrades, complementary memberships, hospitality, football and concert tickets throughout the period in question.

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Playing politics with same sex and gender diverse people’s lives…

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

Over the past six months, I’ve been getting pretty disillusioned with the entire “Marriage Equality” debate and a lot of the federal politicians that have been supporting it. Like a Bull with a sore head, some of them have been consistently pursuing something that they know won’t happen in the current parliament, regardless of how much they kick, scream and dance for the cameras each morning infront of Parliament House about it.  While I’m strongly pro marriage equality, the dog and pony show that’s stopped so many other crucial Same Sex and Gender Diverse rights from being realised throughout the 43rd Australian Parliament needs to stop, because the recklessness behind it is doing more harm for the wider LGBTI community than good.

Sourced from @sarahintheSen8's twitter account.
Sourced from @SarahintheSen8’s twitter account.

Now unlike some of the blindly loyal, flag-waving “marriage or bust” activists that can be found in places like Oxford Street during Mardi Gras, I know what it feels like living in the “Real World” where Same Sex and Gender Diverse youth often have to struggle for healthcare, employment, education and in sadly a lot of cases, a safe place to sleep at night. I’ve had to deal with workplace harassment about my gender identity and sexuality, while I’ve also had to decide what days I’m going to go without food, as I haven’t had the money to cover the basic essentials of both life and job hunting at the same time.  Given that I’ve got a University degree, have a rather extensive level of experience in my profession and have been applying for any job I can get, it hasn’t been through a lack of trying that I’ve been unable to get a job.

Now I’m probably going to get dragged over hot coals again by Sarah Hanson-Young’s office for this, but it’s predominantly been the Greens and a few of their more vocal activist supporters who have been making me as cranky as they come over this issue.  That’s because whenever it’s politically advantageous for them to advocate for something (i.e. lots of potential political donors) they’ll advocate for it, however whenever there isn’t (such as with gender diverse people), they won’t.  Between their grandstanding over bringing in yet another Marriage Equality bill (that is doomed to fail in its current form) through to outright insulting ads like the one below, I’m sick and tired of having my right as a human being to survive, being used as a political football by people who appear to be lip-service allies at this time.

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Mr Turnbull Responds…. NBN Investments and Pecuniary Interests….

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

 

In a rather interesting turn of events, it seems that my last post in regards to The Turnbulls and their investments in NBN contractors has attracted a wee bit of attention, while also touching a few nerves.

Soon after I published yesterday’s post, the following exchange took place between Mr Turnbull and myself on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.52.28 AM

This was quickly followed by:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.55.09 AM

 

Straight after this I then put the following to Mr Turnbull:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.58.31 AM As well as….

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 11.01.10 AM

 

 

 

 

Now thanks to Katharine Murphy at “The Guardian Australia”, it has come to my attention that Mr Turnbull and his staffers have stated that they would like to dispute what I reported about yesterday. As they would recollect however, I stated at the time that The Turnbulls had disposed of the Siemens shares (in late 2011), while the Hochtief AG shares were still in Mrs Turnbull’s possession according to what I could see from Mr Turnbull’s pecuniary Interests Register. After reviewing Mr Turnbull’s Register of Interests again this morning just to be 100% sure, this is a statement that I’m standing by.

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The Turnbulls and an investment in the NBN…..

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

If there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me, it’s that both state and federal politicians don’t think that people check their pecuniary interests, policy statements and voting records, then contrast them against the business interests that said politicians and their families hold.

Take The Honourable Shadow Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy, for example.

Photo courtesy of ABC News and ABC 7.30 - 9/4/13
Photo courtesy of ABC News and ABC 7.30 – 9/4/13

As shown within Mr Turnbull’s latest register of interests, Mrs Turnbull has owned a diverse portfolio of shares in companies such as Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and currently Hochtief AG (HOTG.DE), both of which hold significant interests in the rollout of the National Broadband Network.  Utilising only their German stockmarket codes, most people wouldn’t be able to identify those two particular entries on Page 8 in Mr Turnbull’s submission, unless they knew what they were looking for.

NOTE  – “Member’s Interests” for Malcolm Turnbull – 2/6/2013 – Download Here

As a lot of IT commentators within Australia are aware, Siemens owns a half share of Nokia Siemens Networks, which is one of the NBN’s primary suppliers of optical transmission equipment. While their initial contract was only $10 million back in 2010, this project is expected to be worth over $400 million over the next 10 years. Coincidentally, Siemens also owns Silcar Communications in equal joint partnership with Theiss Australia, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, which in turn is majority owned by Hochtief AG. Given that Silcar has been selected as a primary constructor of the NBN for New South Wales, the A.C.T. and Queensland with an expected return of over $1.1 billion between June 2011 and June 2015, the rollout of the NBN would offer a major source of work to the associated consortiums throughout this period.

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