The Greens:

Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator for NSW, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). The Greens, like most large organisations, are using databases as a way of communicating with our members and supporters. We are extremely conscious of privacy concerns and the need to best protect sensitive personal information.

My office is consulting with privacy experts and the party’s procedures are under continual review to ensure we treat sensitive data with the respect our members and the public expect.

Members at our recent NSW state delegates conference recommended a workshop be held at the Australian Greens national conference to further this goal. Debate was not shut down. Nor are we exchanging personal details with GetUp! or any other organisation.

Egypt:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Friday, item 12). Richard Farmer’s “pretty graphs” of the role of Twitter in the ousting of Mubarak in Egypt don’t prove much. I’m sure tweets about Michael Jackson spiked at the time of his death but that doesn’t mean they caused it!

Emergency services:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Regarding your item “Emergency message needs a spell-check”.

Assuming your tipster is being accurate/truthful in their tip …

The answer to Crikey’s headline is … No. They. Don’t.

Emergency services need to make sure that people who send out vital information are competent. That is,  they can spell basic words without relying on a machine to correct their mistakes.

If you send out an emergency SMS and misspell basic words, you could easily give the wrong message. Imagine the consequences during a Black Saturday-type bushfire event if thousands of people are simultaneously given a confusing safety tip.

If I got an “emergency SMS” with spelling mistakes in it, my first thought would be that it was a hoax. Many others might do the same — with devastating results.

This is basic stuff. And it needs to be fixed immediately.

New passport regulations:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “DFAT’s new passport regs a win for trans and inters-x people” (September 15, item 10). DFAT’s new passport regs a win for trans and inters-x people. All I could say is well done Kev(in Rudd). Transgender people are the poor cousins in discrimination terms, this remedy is to be commended.

Kate Doak’s observations about the relative success of various lobby groups was telling too. I think high-profile campaigns that raise all sorts of emotional issues are likely to fail, or prove far harder to achieve results. A Greens Party member in New Zealand noted that “Observers of the greens in parliamentary settings have noted the extent to which greens have put energy into their rhetoric rather than into concrete policy initiatives.” There may be something in that, the posturing and the rhetoric raises the green profile but does precious little in terms of progress.

The issue here in terms of passports just needs someone to make a decision and someone has.

Peter Fray

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