Mandatory data retention is set to come into effect on 13 October 2015. Despite the certainty of this date, there remains considerable uncertainty within the communications industry as to what data needs to be retained to comply with the law. Among this confusion the Attorney-General’s Department has advised the industry that exemptions to the data retention regime will be revoked if their existence is publicised[1]. This is despite the legislation not specifically requiring exemptions remain confidential. The Department has argued that this is to “prevent exposing gaps in data retention legislation to be exposed to criminals”.

“The Government and the Attorney-General’s Department would have the communications industry lie down and accept its fate,” commented Michael Keating, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “The fact is that the industry has been ignored in the Government’s push to involve itself in every individual’s and business’ communication in Australia. Not only are they dismantling the right to privacy, they want to silence anyone who challenges them, while at the same time expecting everyone to pay for the ‘privilege’. There should be no room for attacking transparency in Australia, but the Attorney-General’s Department seems willing to do this on the flimsy excuse provided.”

With the commencement of the mandatory data retention regime just around the corner, both Kmart[2] and David Jones[3] recently experienced online data breaches resulting in unauthorised access to customer details. These breaches raise serious concerns around the storage of individual’s data once the data retention regime is in operation. Internet service providers have already indicated that they would have no hesitation in storying the data overseas[4], but there is little information about security measures to prevent unauthorised access. With the stored data being capable of exposing individual’s day-to-day activities (as ABC reporter Will Ockenden’s social experiment demonstrated in August[5]), it is the perfect target for hackers wishing to access and abuse that data. The Government appears happy to use smoke and mirrors to cover this issue.
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Late last night word trickled out that the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was finalised. This trade agreement represents many of the darkest wishes of multi-national corporations intent on using regulatory capture in the United States to drive the global trade agenda. The text of the agreement is still secret and will not be released for perhaps another month[1].

"Civil society has been kept at arms length from the negotiations, with access to the draft texts only being granted to major corporations. The fact that the text is not immediately available gives us some insight into just how bad this agreement could be," said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. "We demand that the text be immediately published so the Australian people can see what has been negotiated on our behalf and judge whether this is something that will benefit all of us or just a wealthy few."

Much of what is known about the TPP has been exposed through leaks, painting a bleak picture for the future of signatory countries. The leaks indicate draconian intellectual property provisions, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals and poor environmental and worker protections. 

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In the final day of the Canning By-Election, Pirate Party Australia’s candidate Michelle Allen is making her final pitch to voters. Whilst both major Parties are offering more of the same, the IT Manager is putting forward a different way of tackling the social issues faced by the people of Canning.

The following is a statement to the Canning electorate from Michelle on behalf of herself and the Pirate Party.

Hello Canning voters, my name is Michelle and I’m standing for the seat of Canning on behalf of Pirate Party Australia. Today is international Talk like a Pirate day, and I’d urge you to turn it into Vote like a Pirate day, I’m not only here to say “Arrrr”, I’m here with policy substance as well. For me Talking like a Pirate means to talk about sensible scientifically driven, evidence based ideas, that are the best ideas for our country’s future and which are designed to derive the most social benefit for our people. In other words, for you and me.

The Pirate Party is a political movement founded primarily upon concerns about civil liberties, digital rights, equality, fairness, personal privacy, government transparency and participatory democracy. These are all principles that reach all the way down to the local level, including for the people of Canning. Our full and growing platform can be found at I think you’ll find that most of what is in there makes good sense and should ring true to you. Today I’d like to focus on how some of these polices can be applied to the issues that I’ve been hearing are of concern to people in Canning and which the major party candidates have been making quite a bit of noise about.

We have been hearing all of the usual rhetoric from the major Parties in this campaign. The Liberal Party candidate Andrew Hastie has called for a crack-down on Ice[1][2], with harsher penalties and more enforcement. The war on drugs has raged for my whole life and probably yours as well. If the solution was more punishment, then this issue would have been solved decades ago. We believe drug addiction should be treated as a health issue. Criminalising users only makes more prisoners, it does nothing to tackle addiction or the social dislocation that creates addicts.

The Pirate Party offers an alternative vision[3]. In Portugal we have seen the benefits of drug decriminalisation and addiction rates have plummeted[4]. The streets are safer and the risk of drug users overdosing has significantly decreased. We believe that a similar approach in Australia would make more of a difference than another ‘tough on crime campaign’. To tackle social dislocation, a driving factor in people turning to drugs, we propose a guaranteed basic income[5] instead of the meagre payments people can access while unemployed. This enables people to survive whilst learning new skills and removes the stigma attached to being out of work.

Meanwhile the Liberal party assault on young Australians who are victims of the governments own economic failings continues, with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison reintroducing his bill to extend waiting times for jobseekers to access Newstart payments[6].

If the Liberal party were serious about finding solutions to crime, why introduce a Bill that could force young people to choose between crime, or hunger and homelessness. I ask Andrew Hastie, does he share Morrison’s view that denying welfare to jobseekers somehow magically creates jobs that previously did not exist? If they are serious about welfare reform, why not look at the entire system and not just look at ways to make it tougher on Australians already doing it tough?

If the track record of this government continues, unemployment is only going to get worse. Not only have Hastie’s friends in Canberra attempted to peg the economy to a waning resources boom, they have aggressively set about destroying possible new areas of innovation and job creation by smashing our local renewables industry. Manufacturing has been abandoned and sent offshore, while CSIRO funding has been slashed. The disregard for science and innovation by this government has been obvious to everyone from day one, they didn’t even bother to appoint a minister for science.

Science, innovation and investment in new industries such as the renewable sector is essential for the future of our country. We cannot rely on mining forever, and nowhere is that more starkly obvious than here in WA. We stand to suffer greatly from any further downturn in the market for resources. Comprehensive investment in education and science is essential. The Pirate Party education policy not only enshrines this focus on science, but advocates for a national science plan.[7] Allowing people the education, skills, freedom and ability to explore new innovative and creative business ideas is one of the ways we can better prepare ourselves for a changing economy.

The Pirate Party policy for a Basic Income through reverse taxation is the kind of bold innovative reform to welfare and taxation that our country needs. Not only will this ensure people have the freedom to try out new innovative business ideas, but its simplification of the current morass of different welfare payments and taxation systems will spark investment, save money spent on bureaucracy, empower people to take control of their own destiny and help protect the Australian people and economy from market fluctuations, automation and the offshoring of jobs. A basic income is an idea that has ben trialled with success and is getting more attention[8] as we move into a future of increased automation and labour market change.

Both the Liberal and the Labor party offer more of the same old simplistic solutions to complex issues, with some differences to each other around the edges. Canning does not have a monopoly on these issues, but some are felt harder here than elsewhere in the country. These are issues which have their roots in national and even global forces. I don’t refute the fact that both Andrew Hastie and Matt Keogh probably mean what they say when they claim that they will work hard, “roll up their sleeves” and dedicate themselves to tackling crime, ice, drugs and jobs in Canning. But while their promise of hard work are commendable traits, and I’m sure every candidate on the Canning ballot will put in hard work and dedicate themselves to the people of Canning, I know I would, hard work alone is not enough to solve these issues. They need new ideas and new approaches first.

Andrew Hastie for instance seems to think he can bring to bear his military training to solve these issues through brute force of will and via his toughness forged in combat. Matt Keogh has shown himself all to willing to be just another cog in the Labor party machinery. Both major party candidates offer more of that same and that is no longer working for our nation.

Tougher sentencing, war on drugs, harsher treatment of welfare recipients, increased surveillance, harsher penalties, more policing… it is the same thing over and over again that has been tried and failed over and over again. We need new solutions, and a new way of doing things if we are to really tackle the problems we face. The answers aren’t the simplistic and easy answers that the major parties want to distract you with. This by-election gives you, the people of Canning, an opportunity to show the major parties that we are sick and tired of trying the same failed tactics over and over again. Let’s show the major parties, and the career politicians behind them, that we are willing to try to do things a smarter way, to end the delusion that doing the same thing that has failed elsewhere will somehow work here. If we keep swapping our “1” votes between the two major parties, they will continue taking us for granted. I’d like to think we are all better than that.

Michelle Allen,
Pirate Party Candidate for Canning.


On Wednesday September 9 the Australian government, as one of its weekly National Security announceables, announced increased funding for The National Facial Biometric Matching Capability[1]. This technology gives law enforcement agencies the ability to use images that were captured for the creation of drivers licenses, passports, and so on, to cross-reference and identify people via CCTV. While it is being pitched as a great tool for catching terrorists, we fear that this technology could be re-purposed into a means of putting the entire population under real-time surveillance, and has the potential for false positives to pull innocent people into cases they played no part in.

The Pirate Party calls upon the new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to do away with the theatrics of weekly National Security announceables, which serve no purpose other than political point scoring. We also call on the government to change tack and stop the relentless march towards a police state in an attempt to wedge the ALP.

“Every few weeks the government launches another assault on our civil liberties and every week the ALP waves it through,” said Michelle Allen, Pirate Party candidate for the Canning By-Election. “Our basic rights are under bi-partisan assault in an effort to appear tough on terrorism and crime. Abbott continually attacked civil liberties as a tactic to wedge the ALP. It is time to say enough. We believe that Australians should be treated as citizens not suspects. We call on Malcolm Turnbull to stop the attacks on our freedoms and to restore our civil liberties that have withered under the Abbott government.”

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On Friday September 4, the government announced plans to ban synthetic drugs and authorised Border Force to seize chemicals with a 'psycho-active' effect and no 'legitimate' use[1]. This plan seems to be a carbon copy of a similar ban in the UK that has already been criticised for its potentially harmful effects on medical research into areas such as Parkinson's disease and anti-smoking solutions[2]. Such a ban could also stymie research into safer alternatives to more harmful substances.  This wrong headed approach is typical of the crazy, ever escalating "war on drugs", which has long been shown to be a complete failure.  A new approach needs to be taken to reduce the harm caused by drugs, and the associated problems caused by prohibition.

"It seems the only way this government deals with any issue is to make more and more draconian laws.  They are not only utterly bereft of imagination or nuance on any issue, but they only know how to appeal to base instincts and simplistic non-solutions that look tough, but achieve little," said Michelle Allen, Pirate Party candidate for the Canning By-election. "Prohibition only works to create black markets and organised crime as otherwise decent, law abiding people are turned into criminals for preferring to consume different substances to alcohol."

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