The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has received 244 complaints about election-related phone calls of which 214 concern computer-generated robocalls.
The complaints come with claims there was a spike in automated calls and text messages from political parties this election campaign. An ACMA spokesperson said: “The actual figure may be higher, but there was insufficient information in a number of complaints received to be able to clearly state that the calls related to election/political matters.”
During the election the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said he was interested in tighter regulation of robocalls during elections.
Australia’s privacy laws allow political parties to call and message those who have their numbers either hidden from public directories or on the Do Not Call Register. Voters in particular electorates were targeted with specific messages to their phones from the Coalition and The Greens. Activist group GetUp also sent automated text messages to phones, but these were sent using data already provided by voters. The Australian Federal Police are investigating the source of a particular text message purportedly sent by Medicare which read “Mr Turnbull’s plans to privatise Medicare will take us down the road of no return. Time is running out to Save Medicare.”
Club poker machine tax concessions costing NSW $13 billion in revenue
Decisions to tax poker machines in clubs at a lower rate has cost New South Wales $13 billion over the past 20 years. Both the O’Farrell and Baird government policies to further reduce the tax on poker machines in clubs has resulted in a further $500 million in tax revenue lost. Clubs that earn up to $1 million from poker machines do not pay tax, with larger clubs paying a mandatory 0.4 per cent of their poker machine profits over $1 million to the state government. This money is then distributed as sport, health and community infrastructure grants.
The lower tax rates are slated to last until 2019 under a memorandum of understanding between the Baird government and Clubs NSW. The decision to continue the lower tax rates “is in recognition of the contribution registered clubs make to our community, through the support of local sports and other organisations”, a spokesperson for Deputy Premier Troy Grant said.
Wild weather hits NSW residents
The Bureau of Meteorology predicted bad weather across large parts of the state as a cold front moved in. Parts of the south and southeast experienced damaging winds of up to 90 km/h, with blizzards bringing up to 70cm of snow in Thredbo and other alpine areas overnight and early today. Temperatures are expected to plummet tonight with more snow predicted in the central ranges. Sydney, inland, central and south coast residents have been told to secure loose items and move cars undercover to protect from possible falling objects.
Junior sport sponsors ‘pushing unhealthy products’
The NSW Cancer Council says junk food companies are undermining children by using the sport they participate in as a marketing opportunity. A recent study showed 10 of the food companies sponsoring kids sports programs such as Little Athletics and Surf Life Saving were selling unhealthy food and drinks. The council said McDonald’s “took podium position” in kids’ sports sponsorship, supporting three junior sports programs across the country during the study. The council has called for the the sponsorship of junior sport to be regulated to reduce the marketing of unhealthy food to children. – Report and photo by Matthew Buchanan