Rubella officially eliminated from Australia

In a highly significant public health accomplishment for Australia, the World Health Organization (WHO) has verified that Australia has eliminated rubella, a contagious viral illness that can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.
Rubella, also known as German measles, is a contagious viral illness that causes a fever, rash and swollen lymph glands.
If contracted by pregnant women during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the disease can result in miscarriage or stillbirth or cause life-long problems for their babies.
The elimination of rubella is a great day for public health in Australia and sends a powerful message that vaccinations work.
I commend the efforts of Australia’s health professionals over the decades and the millions of parents who ensure their children are always vaccinated.
Our National Immunisation Program played an essential role this huge achievement by ensuring high levels of vaccination coverage for rubella.
Only last week I announced the nation-wide immunisation rates for five year olds was 94.62 per cent, which is the highest figure on record.
The science is in and the medical experts’ advice is absolute – vaccinations save lives and protect lives and they are an essential part of a healthy society.
Australia has high-performing surveillance systems to rapidly detect and respond to rubella cases and today’s confirmation this disease has been eliminated is testimony to the success of our National Immunisation Program.
Australia has had rolling epidemics of rubella with the largest number of cases reported in 1958 with over 5,000 notified cases, 1963-64 with over 3,000 notified cases and in the early 1990s with more than 4,000 notified cases.
The current National Immunisation Program provides free vaccination for protection against rubella for children aged 12 months with a booster at 18 months.
The WHO has confirmed Australia has also maintained its measles elimination status, after being verified in 2014.
Measles and rubella are very contagious and remain endemic in many countries so we need to remain vigilant and keep our vaccinations up to date.
The Morrison Government has invested $446.5 million in the National Immunisation Program this financial year.
Our Government’s strong economic management ensures we continue to invest record amounts of funding into vital health initiatives including Medicare, hospitals and vaccination programs.

Regulation reset for live export industry

The live export industry will be reset following the completion of the Moss Review into the culture, capability and investigative capacity of the regulator of live exports – the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
“Australians were appalled in April when they saw footage of sheep dying on voyages to the Middle East during a shipment in August 2017, and further angered at their assessment the report of the incident did not match the footage,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Australians need to be confident the independent regulator of the live export industry will hold the industry to account. It was clear we needed an independent inquiry into the culture and capability of the regulator.
“I said in April I was determined to clean this industry up and make it sustainable, because so many farm families and rural towns rely on it. I followed through on the McCarthy Review into the northern summer trade and today I follow through on the Moss Review into the regulation of the industry, accepting all recommendations. The live export industry needs a tough cop on the beat and the Department must become a capable, trusted and effective regulator.
“Today I reset the live export industry to make it sustainable. I announce:

  • An external, independent Inspector General of Live Animal Exports who will oversee the Department’s regulation of live export and report to the public and the Minister
  • A Principal Regulatory Officer within the Department to improve regulatory practice, compliance and its culture as regulator
  • An animal welfare branch within the Department and the development of animal welfare indicators to be used as part of compliance systems
  • That the Department will improve systems to allow concerns raised by staff members to be addressed transparently and promptly.

“I specifically asked Mr Moss to consider an Inspector General in his review, and I said at the time I don’t care who thought of the idea. Mr Moss recommends it so I’m doing it. I don’t give a stuff who claims the credit.
“The Principal Regulatory Officer will be key in driving cultural change within the Department as well as improving compliance and investigations.
“I accept Mr Moss’s recommendation the regulator of the live export trade have an animal welfare branch and introduce animal welfare indicators along the supply chain as part of the regulatory framework. Compliance and regulation should not be a bureaucratic tick box – to change culture, the light needs to be shone onto animal welfare andthe threat of being caught and punished needs to be real.
“Employees of the Department need to be confident their concerns about animal welfare will be taken seriously and the Department will improve systems that encourage this.
“I thank Mr Moss for his review and look forward to implementing his recommendations.
“I call on Labor to give a written guarantee they’ll support my Bills to double penalties for live export animal cruelty without political amendments, through both houses of Parliament.”
Minister Littleproud will bring forward legislative amendments to establish the Inspector General position.
These actions follow Minister Littleproud’s move to put independent observers on each sheep vessel to the Middle East and changes implemented after the McCarthy Review, which included a 28 per cent reduction in stocking densities and speeding up the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock to the end of 2018.
The Government’s official response to the Moss review can be found at
Background: The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources acts as the regulator of live exports in Australia, independent of the Minister’s direction and unlike the relationship between most departments and Ministers.
Legal advice from the regulator in 2013 says:
“The powers available to you as Minister under live export legislation can be described as ‘rule making’ or ‘standard setting’ as opposed to the Secretary of the Department, who has ‘regulatory’ and ‘decision making’ powers.”
Legal advice from the regulator on July 11 this year:

  1. The Minister has the power to make orders under the Export Control Act 1982. 
  2. The Minister also has the power determine principles relating to the export of livestock from Australia that must be taken into account by persons exercising or performing functions under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997. 
  3. These are both rule making powers of general application, not the power to give directions in relation to individual decisions or regulated entities.​

Worldwide cooperation to counter terrorism financing

The fourth Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) Summit will be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 6 to 8 November 2018.
The Summit will bring together over 350 global leaders and specialists in financial intelligence together with senior representatives from regulatory, law enforcement, national security and policy agencies, industry participants and academics.
The CTF Summit is recognised globally as a leading example of multilateral cooperation focused on understanding and responding to terrorism financing and significant financial threats.
Hosted by Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) in partnership with Indonesian and Australian Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), PPATK and AUSTRAC, the 2018 CTF Summit will focus on:

  • the identification and prioritisation of ISIL affiliated organisations in the Asia Pacific region, as well as other emerging terrorist organisations;
  • the launch of a regional assessment on non-profit organisation red flag indicators;
  • the release of a secure information-sharing platform prototype;
  • a multi-intelligence analyst exchange program ‘Hubbing’ exercise;
  • collaboration of FIUs and sharing of best practice techniques to combat terrorism financing; and
  • exploring new opportunities to strengthen the cooperation of regional FIUs in combatting transnational crime threats, including corruption and human trafficking/people smuggling.

Acting Secretary-General of AMLO, Police Major General Preecha Jaroensahayanon said “the CTF Summit represents a good opportunity to enhance cooperation within the region to stay ahead of terrorism and terrorist financing that has become more complex with advanced technologies.”
“To properly deal with terrorism threats, we need to change. More innovative counter measures need to be created and developed for better prevention,” Police Major General Jaroensahayanon said.
AUSTRAC CEO, Nicole Rose PSM said the CTF Summit plays a crucial role in the fight against terrorism in the Asia Pacific region.
“Terrorism is one of the most significant threats we face, and AUSTRAC, in cooperation with our partners worldwide, is committed to playing our part in stamping it out,” Ms Rose said.
Head of PPATK, Mr. Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin said “the CFT Summit is a perfect platform for combatting terrorism in our region.”
“It gives good momentum to our partner agencies in identifying threats coming from transnational crime, mapping the high risk sectors as well as developing more comprehensive and effective solutions to financing of terrorism issues around the region,” Mr. Badaruddin said.
The 4th CTF Summit theme is “Regional Synergies for Regional Solutions”. “Regional Synergies” means the Summit brings together relevant parties to deepen understanding and identify and address gaps in collaboration. This will create sustainable regional alliances that drive the rapid exchange of intelligence to more effectively combat transnational crime in the region and beyond.
The 2018 CTF Summit will build on the outcomes of previous Summits held in Sydney 2015 – AUSTRAC, Australia; Bali 2016 – PPATK, Indonesia; and Kuala Lumpur 2017 – Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysia.
The outcomes of this 4th CTF Summit will be declared in the Bangkok Communique at the end of the Summit.


Mystery RoadLadies in BlackHomecoming Queens

Screen Australia’s annual Drama Report released today shows a record high expenditure on home grown stories, with $718 million spent on local productions, up 7% on last year.

The Drama Report measures the health of the Australian screen industry by covering the production of local and foreign feature films, TV dramas, online programs plus PDV (post, digital and visual effects) activity.
The 2017/18 record local expenditure included 36 TV dramas such as Mystery RoadPlaying for Keeps and the forthcoming Lambs of God, and their combined spend of $295 million was above the five-year average. Spend on Australian feature films was up 12% on last year to $321 million due to strong Official Co-production activity. 38 Australian feature films were made including box office hit Ladies in Black and the forthcoming Storm Boy. 10 children’s television programs went into production including fan favourite Bluey, with $49 million spent on Australian children’s programs, up 3% on last year’s spend but below the five-year average. 18 online drama titles went into production, with a 256% increase in expenditure, driven by content with longer episodes and a higher cost per hour.
Overall $814 million was spent on 133 screen productions in 2017/18 compared to $1.3 billion on 166 titles in 2016/17. This drop was largely due to reduced foreign film production spend. New South Wales accounted for the largest share of total expenditure in Australia (37%), while Western Australia ($37 million) and South Australia ($82 million) set new expenditure records.

Preventing data breaches should be business as usual

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has been notified of 245 data breaches affecting personal information between July and September 2018, its latest report shows.
The quarterly statistics report on the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme indicates 57 per cent of incidents were caused by malicious or criminal attack, and 37 per cent resulted from human error.
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said training staff on how to identify and prevent privacy risks needs to be part of business as usual.
“Everyone who handles personal information in their work needs to understand how data breaches can occur so we can work together to prevent them,” Ms Falk said.
“Organisations and agencies need the right cyber security in place, but they also need to make sure work policies and processes support staff to protect personal information every day.
“Our latest report shows 20 per cent of data breaches over the quarter occurred when personal information was sent to the wrong recipient, by email, mail, fax or other means.
“Importantly, we also need to be on the alert for suspicious emails or texts, with 20 per cent of all data breaches in the quarter attributed to phishing.
“Phishing is when an individual is contacted by email or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure them into providing passwords or personal information.
“This can result in their credentials – their username and password – being compromised and used to gain access to their system or network, if additional protections are not in place.”
The report can be found at

Key statistics

The Notifiable Data Breaches July–September 2018 report shows:

  • 245 data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, compared to 242 the previous quarter
    • 57% were attributed to malicious or criminal attacks, compared to 59% the previous quarter
    • 37% were attributed to human error, compared to 36% the previous quarter
    • 6% were attributed to system faults, compared to 5% the previous quarter
  • 63% involved the personal information of 100 or fewer individuals, compared to 61% the previous quarter
  • The top five industry sectors to report breaches were:
    • Private health service providers: 45
    • Finance: 35
    • Legal, accounting and management services: 34
    • Private education providers: 16
    • Personal services: 13

Challenges and opportunities in a 5G world

The rollout of 5G networks in Australia will have a significant impact on broadband markets, including the NBN, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a speech delivered at RadComms 2018 today.
Mr Sims said an interesting dynamic is developing between mobile networks and the NBN in Australia, because 5G networks will be the first generation of mobile technology capable of delivering broadband services comparable to fixed services in terms of speed and capacity.
“Mobile broadband services may become more of a viable substitute for fixed broadband,” Mr Sims said.
“This is unprecedented in the Australian market, and indeed globally. This is great news for consumers as it will create more choice of services and suppliers and see telco products better align with their needs, particularly those who value mobility, like renters.”
“This leads us to an interesting competition issue: what does 5G mean for the NBN? We will need to wait and see what happens when 5G becomes widely available and how markets react,” Mr Sims said.
“What we must never do, however, is seek to restrain others in order to protect the NBN business model. This would be a disaster for consumers.”
Critical to ensuring the 5G rollout was working for consumers’ benefit is ensuring it is done in a way that promotes competition.
“We know that 5G is going to lower the cost of delivering data, but those changes will be accompanied by large capital and operating costs; operators will need to acquire new spectrum, densify their networks by building more mobile towers, and make sure their transmission can support delivery of new services,” Mr Sims said.
“Competition will drive this investment. It can be the catalyst for innovation and can see operators build wider, better networks, to provide higher quality services.”
“However, investment costs can be significant, and if we want to see more competitors in mobiles we need to think carefully about how to best achieve sustainable competition and minimise barriers to entry,” Mr Sims said.
Mr Sims discussed the Government’s upcoming 5G spectrum auction being held by the ACMA, saying it was critical that spectrum allocation processes, including allocation limits, promote competition in downstream markets, rather than just competition in the allocation itself.
“Each spectrum allocation is a new opportunity for a potential entrant, a different service, or improved coverage,” Mr Sims said.
“What happens now will have a long-term impact on competition. We need to make sure we achieve the most efficient and pro-competitive use of spectrum.”
Mr Sims noted TPG and VHA’s joint venture agreement to bid in the upcoming 3.6 GHz spectrum auction, separate to the proposed merger between the two companies.
“An agreement between competitors to share networks – separate to a formal merger – rather than compete to build them does have potential competition implications. However, we are also aware of the potential benefits of this from an efficiency perspective,” Mr Sims said.
“We want to ensure that any network sharing happens in a way that enables operators to continue to differentiate between services, quality and products. Likewise, we want to ensure there are equal incentives on operators to invest in the network infrastructure,” Mr Sims said.
A full copy of Mr Sims’s speech is available at: Competition & the 5G spectrum.

21st Annual Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue

The Secretary of Defence, Mr Greg Moriarty and the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell visited the People’s Republic of China this week to conduct the Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue.
Held in Beijing on 29 October 2018, the dialogue was hosted by Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), General Li Zuocheng.
This year marked the 21st year of the annual dialogue – a key part of regular bilateral engagement activities – which brings together senior leaders from the Australian Department of Defence and the PLA to discuss a range of regional security issues, including maritime security.
Mr Moriarty said Australia’s bilateral defence relationship with China was underpinned by a common interest in ensuring a strong, stable and prosperous region.
“The Australia-China defence relationship is an important part of our broader bilateral relationship,” Mr Moriarty said.
“Our program of regular engagement activities includes dialogues, joint exercises, educational exchanges and ship visits which helps to develop mutual understanding and strengthen people-to-people links,” Mr Moriarty said.
General Campbell said the Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue provided a useful forum in which frank and open discussion on a number of regional challenges could occur.
“This year’s exchange of views was again productive and included discussions on maintaining regional peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea,” General Campbell said.
“This is vital for both nations and for the broader region.”
Australia will host the 22nd Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue in Canberra next year.

Sherb Detox capsules Illegal

Sherb Detox capsules pose a serious risk to your health and should not be taken.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has tested a product labelled Sherb Detox capsules and found that:

  • The capsules contain the undeclared substance Bisacodyl.

Consumers are advised that Bisacodyl is a laxative that is marketed as an over-the-counter medicine in Australia, but is not scheduled
The supply of Sherb Detox capsules containing undisclosed Bisacodyl is illegal.
Sherb Detox capsules have not been assessed by the TGA for quality, safety or efficacy as required under Australian legislation, and the place of manufacture is not approved by the TGA.
TGA investigations have shown that a number of people in Australia may have bought the product online.

New school-based program to support children’s mental health

A new school-based mental health program that aims to give teachers the tools to help students manage their mental health will be launched today following a $98.6 million investment from the Morrison Government.
The program Be You will be delivered by beyondblue in partnership with headspace and Early Childhood Australia.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the program will provide Australian teachers with the skills and resources to be able to teach students how to manage their mental health and wellbeing, build resilience, and support the mental wellbeing of other students.
“It will ensure that students have all the support required for healthy social and emotional development,” Minister Hunt said.
Be You will teach educators to identify any students who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, and to work with the families and local services to get the right help early on. It will also help educators look after their own mental health.”
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said Be You builds on the strengths of current school-based mental health programs, and complements our Government’s recently launched Australian Student Wellbeing Framework.
“I encourage all Australian schools and early learning providers to engage with beyondblue and Be You to support the mental health and wellbeing of our students,” Minister Tehan said.
“As half of all mental health disorders in Australia emerge before the age of 14, schools and early learning services in Australia represent one of the best opportunities for mental health issues to be detected early and managed.
“Schools also play a vital role in prevention by helping our children and young people learn the skills they need to look after their own mental health and wellbeing.
I want our children and young people to have access to the information and skills they need to face life’s challenges and to know they have our support.”
The program will be rolled-out by beyondblue in 6,000 schools and 2,000 early learning services in 2019.
Teachers and educators, including those still in training, will have access to free online courses and materials on mental health and suicide prevention.
The program will also be supported by over 70 frontline staff from Early Childhood Australia and headspace who will help schools and early learning services around the country implement the program, through online, telephone, and face to face consultations.
The Government is also providing $2.36 million over four years to the University of Queensland to evaluate the program. This will assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the program, and identify opportunities to strengthen or improve it.
The Liberal National Government is prioritising better mental health for all Australians with an additional $338.1 million allocated in the 2018¬–19 Budget and $4.7 billion expected to be spent on mental health this financial year.
Our Government’s strong economic management ensures we continue to invest record amounts of funding into vital health initiatives including mental health, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.

Austal cyber security incident

The Australian Government is aware of the cyber security incident affecting Austal.

This matter has been referred to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for investigation.

As the investigation continues, the Department of Defence can confirm that no compromise of classified or sensitive information or technology has been identified so far.

This incident reinforces the serious nature of the cyber security threat faced by defence industry, and the need for industry partners to put in place, and maintain, strong cyber defences.

Defence and the ACSC have provided cyber security assistance to Austal and are working with Austal to assess and mitigate harm.

The Government will continue to actively deter and respond to malicious cyber activity, and any impact it may have on Australia.

As this matter is still being investigated by the AFP and the ACSC, it would be inappropriate to comment further.