Tag: Greg Hunt

Australia launches tracing app (COVIDsafe) amidst privacy concerns

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 26 April 2020: The Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt today launched the new voluntary coronavirus app, COVIDSafe.

The latest research from the Australia Institute (26 April posted) shows that 45% of Australians say they will download and use the Government’s COVID-19 mobile app, while 28% say they will not use it and 27% unsure.

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,011 Australians about whether they would use the government’s COVID-19 mobile app on 23-24 April 2020.

COIVD app polling

“The app is an important public health initiative that will help keep you, your family, and your community safe from further spread of coronavirus through early notification of possible exposure,” a media release says.

“Australians are doing an extraordinary job to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the coronavirus, but we cannot be complacent,” says Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“The Chief Medical Officer’s advice is we need the COVIDSafe app as part of the plan to save lives and save livelihoods. The more people who download this important public health app, the safer they and their family will be, the safer their community will be, and the sooner we can safely lift restrictions and get back to business and do the things we love.”

The health initiative uses technology to automate and improve what state and territory health officials already do manually. COVIDSafe will speed up the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus, quickly stopping further spread of the virus in the community.

Addressing a nationally televised media conference, Minister for Health, Greg Hunt thanked Australians for their actions during the pandemic, and said the app is part of the three key requirements for easing restrictions: Test, Trace, and Respond.

“We thank Australians for their help in adhering to the difficult but life-saving social distancing measures,” Minister Hunt said.

“We are now calling on all Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to help protect you, your family and your community from further spread of COVID-19. This will be necessary if we are to start easing some of the difficult social distancing restrictions we have had to put in place” Minister Hunt said.

“It will be one of the critical tools we will use to help protect the health of the community by quickly alerting people who may be at risk of having contact with COVID-19. If you’d been exposed, you’d want to know, wouldn’t you?”

The media release says, “The app has received strong support from states and territories and the health sector, which recognizes it is a valuable tool that will enhance the ability to respond rapidly to local outbreaks, and the confidence to know the virus is not silently spreading throughout communities.

A new determination issued by the Minister for Health under the Biosecurity Act will ensure the information provided voluntarily through the App will only be accessible for use by authorized state and territory health officials. Any other access or use will be a criminal offense.”

Welcoming the announcement, Australian Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy said COVIDSafe is set to be a major tool in streamlining the process of identifying contacts after a person tests positive for coronavirus.
“Finding out quickly means you can quarantine yourself or be treated much faster, protecting your family and friends from possible infection, and slowing the spread of the virus,” Professor Murphy said.

“Without this technology, health officials have to rely on people being able to remember who they have been around, and being able to provide contact details for those people.”

“It is important to note that only state and territory health officials will be able to use the information.”

“COVIDSafe only keeps contact information for 21 days. This covers the maximum incubation period for the virus and the time it takes for someone to be tested for COVID-19,” Professor Murphy said.

“Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, and Australia no longer needs the app, the app and the information on it will be deleted permanently. No virus, no app,” Minister Hunt said.

“While there is a base level of support for the proposed Government COVID-19 mobile app, the Government will need to ensure user privacy is guaranteed in legislation,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

“With half the population yet to be fully convinced, the Government will need to ensure strong privacy guarantees are legislated to keep the community on the side and assuage any privacy concerns.”

Law Council of Australia President, Ms. Pauline Wright says, ” … a potential legal ambiguity exists around whether other laws authorizing the issuing of law enforcement and intelligence warrants could override the prohibition on access, as provided under the Determination, without an express provision included in the Determination stating that it prevails over all other laws.

Clarity should also extend to the operation of the exemptions under the Privacy Act 1988, for example, employee records covering an ‘act or practice directly related to a current or former employment relationship between the employer and the individual.

We call on the government to make a firm commitment to introduce legislation on the first sitting day in May that will replace the Determination.”

The App can be downloaded from the App stores.

Adani mine approval challenged in court

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By SAT News Desk

Melbourne, 9 November 2015: The Adani owned Chermichael Coal megamine approval by the Queensland government has been challenged by the Australian Conservation Foundation. The earlier approval which was struck done by a court was later reapproved last month by the Queensland Environment Minister Greg Hunt. The challenge is a judicial review of the Minister’s approval.

The Carmichael coal mine would be an absolute disaster for the Great Barrier Reef, our climate and the local environment if it proceeds,” said Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Reef Campaigner in a media release.

“They want a 28,000-hectare coal mine which will be responsible for 120 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and require millions of tonnes of seafloor in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to be dredged.

“If Minister Hunt and the Turnbull Government were serious about protecting the environment, they would have rejected this mine the first and the second time it came across their desks.

“It’s clear that they cannot be relied on to make decisions in the best interests of the community and the environment, so this legal challenge by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACL) is crucial,” said Ms. Tager.

Meanwhile, the Mackay Conservation Group has welcomed the ACF legal action against the mine approval, in a media release.

Mackay Conservation Group acting coordinator, Peter McCallum, said “we welcome the intervention of Australia’s pre-eminent environmental organization in this legal process.”

Queensland treasury officials have called the mine “unbankable” and 14 international banks have said they won’t fund the project, which still needs $16billion to proceed.

- SAT News Service.

Oz court revokes Adani mine’s environment approval

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Photo: Mackay Conservation Group

BY SAT News Desk

Brisbane, Wednesday 5 August 2015: India’s Adani group has received a major setback with an Australian court ruling against the environmental clearance to it’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in Australia’s Galilee Basin. The controversial proposed Coal mine has been in the news with global investors pulling out of the project. Mr. Adani who is considered close to the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accompanied him during his last visit to Australia.

The Mackay Conservation Group has won its case against Indian giant Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine, with the Federal Court ruling today that the approval by Environment Minister Greg Hunt is invalid on environmental grounds.

The mine would have been the biggest in Australian history and the Southern Hemisphere, and among the world’s largest.

The case, launched by Mackay Conservation Group in January 2015, challenged Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of Carmichael on three grounds: that the Minister incorrectly assessed its climate impacts, ignored Adani’s poor environmental record, and failed to consider conservation advice from his own Department on the impact of the mine on two vulnerable species.

In a remarkable turn of events, Minister Hunt conceded to the Court that he failed in his duty to properly assess the Carmichael mine project in accordance with his obligations under Federal environmental legislation.

“‘It is astonishing and deeply troubling that it has taken a legal case by a small community group to bring the approval process under proper public scrutiny, and expose Minister Hunt’s dereliction of duty in fast-tracking the mine,” said Ellen Roberts, Coordinator of Mackay Conservation Group in a media release.

“The scale and impacts of this mine mean it would be the most damaging in Australian history. The proponent, Adani, has flouted the law and recklessly destroyed the environment in India. In Australia, Carmichael would be the driver for the huge coal port the company plans to build on the Great Barrier Reef.

“Given that Minister Hunt also has carriage of the port approval, what faith can the community now have that he will act appropriately to protect the Reef?”, he said.

Ellen Roberts further said, “Adani’s Carmichael mine would have ripped up precious habitat for threatened species and sucked billions of litres of precious ground water every year. The burning of the coal from the mine would have driven global warming at a time when science tells us coal reserves must be left in the ground.

Additionally, recent revelations have thrown the company’s economic and job claims into doubt.

“Adani’s job and royalties figures for the Carmichael project are fabrications,” said Ms. Roberts. “Global financial markets are backing away from new investments in coal and the Queensland Treasury has assessed the project as ‘unbankable.’”

‘There is simply no reason for this mine to go ahead. This Federal Court decision to throw out Minister Hunt’s approval is a victory for land and water, biodiversity, the global climate and also for common sense.”

‘We call now on Minister Hunt to see sense, honor his obligations, and take the opportunity to reject this disastrous project once and for all,’ he said.

Mackay Conservation Group was represented by the Environment Defenders Office of NSW.

Sue Higginson, principal solicitor of EDO NSW said, ‘the decision of the Court to set aside the Carmichael mine’s federal approval was based on a failure by the Minister to have regard to conservation advices for two Commonwealth-listed vulnerable species.

‘It is now up to the Minister to decide whether or not to approve the mine, taking into account the conservation advice and any other information on the impacts of the project.’

The case was funded by thousands of donations from the community via GetUp!

‘Without the donations of tens of thousands of Australians, there’s no way a tiny group like ours could have taken on the Federal Government or Adani. These donations show the depth of feeling in the community that Carmichael is a dud and must not go unchallenged. The people have been vindicated by the historic decision of the Federal Court.

“We and the broader community will now be closely watching Minister Hunt’s response to the decision of the Court,” said Ms. Roberts.

STATEMENT BY ADANI AUSTRALIA

Adani is committed to ensuring its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland are developed and operated in accordance with Commonwealth and State laws and regulations, including strict environmental conditions.

Adani acknowledges the Federal Environment Minister has consented to remake the July 2014 environmental approval decision for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail project after a conservation group’s judicial review application.

It is regrettable that a technical legal error from the Federal Environment Department has exposed the approval to an adverse decision.

It should be noted the approval did include appropriate conditions to manage the species protection of the yakka skink and ornamental snake.

However, we have been advised that, because certain documents were not presented by the Department in finalising the approval, it created a technical legal vulnerability that is better to address now.

Adani will await the Minister and his department’s timely reconsideration of its approval application under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

Adani is confident the conditions imposed on the existing approval are robust and appropriate once the technicality is addressed.

Adani is in the fifth year of development and approvals and the need to finalise these approvals and timelines is critical so Adani and the community can realise the benefits associated with its investments to date including 10,000 jobs and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested back into the community.

For the past six to 12 months, Adani has maintained a level of investment and project timelines based on anticipated approvals timelines and milestones.

As a result of changes to a range of approvals over that time it’s necessary our timelines and budget reflect those changes.
Wednesday 5 August 2015, www.adaniaustralia.com.au

- SAT News Service.