Government hits Facebook for job checks. A friend who has worked for several Australian government agencies says that federal and state governments use Facebook as part of the reference checks when hiring. Apparently they have “FULL” access to everyone’s Facebook profiles, regardless of what your privacy settings are. They have denied jobs to people not because of things they have said — but on the grounds of things their friends have said.

In once case, a person being considered for a job had a friend who posted a comment using a derogatory term for an Aborigine. The person applying for the job got turned down because it was felt they might have trouble dealing with indigenous people. When I pointed out that this wasn’t legal, my friend said that no one would ever be able to prove anything, so that basically the government could do whatever it wanted.

I can understand governments being given access to profiles for national security and major crime investigations, but I don’t think this was ever meant to be used for things like job reference checks. As far as I can see, this is a major invasion of privacy on the government’s part, and one that Facebook should not allow. I’m sure this was not what they had in mind when they allowed governments to have access to this information.

What’s the long-term cost of home insulation? Operation Wickenby is of small concern compared to the home insulation program, which has been tipped by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to have contributed to more than $300 million dollars of unpaid GST. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, which managed the Insulation Industry Assistance Program, has been defrauded between $3 million-$4 million; the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency is to embark on a massive debt recovery program to recover more than half a billion dollars from installer companies who have defrauded the government; and administrative errors by partner program delivery agencies such as Medicare Australia and DEEWR.

Another pink batts fire? A Wagga Wagga house fire has been linked to the home insulation program. A Metropolitan Fire Service report suggests that insulation is a contributing factor in the fire with new insulation being placed over old insulation resulting in electrical wiring being sandwiched between old and new insulation types.

The Age of free newspapers. So The Age luvvies can’t possibly deliver new subscribers their daily fix until mid-January? No such dramas at my joint. It’s 12 months since I cancelled my subscription and paid the final account, yet still my moggy’s dodging their lofty broadsheet every morning when it flies over the fence promptly at 0600. That’s Sunday Age included — about $600 worth, so far, for nada.

Peter Fray

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