Debunking the faulty arguments of surveillance advocates

Alan Edward writes: Re. “Surveillance advocates hit us with their best shot” (Tuesday). I wanted to comment (expressing my thanks) for Mr Keane’s article yesterday. If ever one article proved the worth of the subscription … Didn’t cardinal Richelieu say something once along the lines of, “give me five lines of writing from any one honest man and I will find reason to execute him”? I have written thousands of pages in 72 years and I suppose some of it would be unpopular to some in power. What they would do would depend on how much power they had — the opportunity rather than the attitude.

Data retention is already happening

Peter Matters writes: Re. “Don’t listen to Bernard Keane: in defence of data retention” (yesterday). Is not the fuss about data retention officialese somewhat irrelevant? For quite a few years now anybody with the right gadgetry could been sitting in their car in front of your house and saved every phone call and every item on your computer and we — nor the police — would ever know whether the data collection was officially authorised or not. Sadly, the old cliche “you have nothing to fear if you are innocent” is a furphy. The concept of privacy in the electronic is but a pleasant memory.

The growing ranks of “off the books” workers

Lesley Wheeler writes: Re. “Another attack on the low-paid the last thing the Coalition needs” (yesterday). Here in Melbourne, I have no idea how much this would affect the cafe and restaurant trade as it appears a significant proportion of staff servicing these two areas are paid in cash. In fact, it’s very difficult to get a job in a restaurant in either of them if you ask to be put “on the books”. My daughter has applied for a number of such jobs, all only cash, and her experience of asking to be legitimised has me wondering just how much of an issue this is. It seems employers are only too happy to take travellers, students and others who just want a cash job so they don’t have to declare earnings.

As someone on a pension, who works part time and declares income, I fully understand that a bit of cash is a very very handy thing and I’d not want to stop anyone from accepting a cash job. The issue I have is that in my daughter’s case, she actually wants to have a legitimate job so she can declare an income and qualify for a lease and get a loan, none of which she can do as the only work she can do is not legitimately available to her. She’s ended up taking a cash job because she needs the income. It’s full-time as are all the other staff in the place, and everywhere else she’s applied and trialled. With the argy-bargy around the unemployment rate going on, it seems that it’s more than a little skewed in the hospitality industry, as although people are looking for work, they can’t get it legitimately. I realise this is all a bit anecdotal, but my granddaughter also had the same issues as her mum trying to get a hospitality job “on the books”, so it’s not a single case. As a manager in a cleaning business a couple of years ago, I saw this sort of thing going on a lot in that industry till the tax department focussed on it and cleaned it up a bit.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.