Canberra Now: News in 90 seconds for Friday, July 14, 2017

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Good morning Canberra! 

Friday is here, and how quickly did that week go? Some cloud cover looks to be taking the edge off the cold today, and a low of only minus 1 is expected. It’s a similar deal tomorrow, and unfortunately that minus 7 low is still forecast for Sunday. A dusting of snow is even expected for the Brindabellas

Here’s what’s making headlines in Canberra on this wintry mid-July day. 

Pay gap blame

News New Public Service Commisioner John Lloyd The Canberra Times Date: 22 January 2015 Photo Jay Cronan

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd. Photo: Jay Cronan

New figures show that wages for the public service’s top executives have grown far more than for the rank and file. The cause? It depends on who you ask. 

The public service commission has blamed public sector unions, saying hardline positions in enterprise bargaining negotiations held back wages for APS workers.

But CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood shot back quickly, and argued SES employees benefited from the government’s executive remuneration policy, which included market factors and matched the private sector.

Read here for more of this story by Tom McIlroy and I.

Hack technology purchased

The Cellebrite system can extract data from a variety of phones.

The Cellebrite system can extract data from a variety of phones. Photo: Tessa Stevens

Fairfax Media revealed last month government departments and agencies, including Centrelink, the Department of Employment and the ATO were using phone-hacking technology developed by Israeli security company, Cellebrite.

Now a UK-based vendor has said major agencies, including the Department of Immigration, are buying off-the-shelf phone hacking tools to extract data from the phones of those they suspect of fraud.

Fone Fun Shop owner Mark Strachan said he also sold these commonly available phone hacking devices to the Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police.

Several Australian government agencies have admitted to using Cellebrite, but the use of the other devices sold by Fone Fun Shop suggests the agencies are using a much wider range of phone hacking tools than previously believed.

Finbar O’Mallon looks into the agencies’ purchases of this technology

Damages awarded

A Canberra couple have won damages over the shoddy build of their purchased home.

A Canberra couple have won damages over the shoddy build of their purchased home. Photo: Louie Douvis

Rising damp caused by the faulty installation of a vapour barrier, a balcony that directed water into the house, roof faults that allowed water in and cracked concrete in the garage.

These were the problems, identified by an engineer’s report, two Canberrans encountered after buying a Macgregor home. 

They have won more than $380,000 in damages after suing a builder and a seller over the shoddy build.

In July 2009 a woman contracted construction company Hanson Australasia Pty Ltd to build the two-storey, four-bedroom house. A man and a woman arranged to buy the property from the woman in April 2010, before the home was finished. But they began to notice problems shortly after settlement, about three months later.

Alexandra Back reports on the court decision.

Greens try to soften report

The ACT Greens have been accused of mishandling an allegation of sexual assault.

The ACT Greens have been accused of mishandling an allegation of sexual assault. Photo: Natalie Grono

It’s been a year since a Greens volunteer was allegedly sexually assaulted in the back of a car by another volunteer on federal election night. Now a former party member and member of its campaign team has gone public, frustrated at his inability to get any action from the Greens hierarchy.

Zach Ghirardello has been advocating on behalf of the 21-year-old woman about the alleged assault since the night, when he was called in to deal with it.

He has said the ACT Greens had no capacity to deal professionally with the woman’s complaint. Because of this, she had been fobbed off.

The ACT Greens tried to water down a damning report about their handling of the allegation and other critical incidents during last year’s election campaigns.

Katie Burgess and Kirsten Lawson with this report.

Godless Canberra

Pastor Ken Perrin of the Church of Christ, at Ainslie. Census results have shown that the inner north has low numbers of religious people. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Pastor Ken Perrin of the Ainslie Church of Christ. Census results have shown that the inner-north has low numbers of religious people. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The inner-north is well known for its hipsters and burgeoning cafe culture. But waves of young, wealthy people arriving into its trendy suburbs may be driving religion out. 

Census 2016 showed those who have moved into the inner-north’s units and houses were more likely to report having no religion than elsewhere in Canberra.

In Braddon, 51 per cent said they weren’t religious while only 26.5 per cent said they were Christian. Only Acton (24.6 per cent), Civic (22.8 per cent) and Lawson (23.2 per cent) had fewer believers.

If Canberra has a beltway for Christianity, it’s in Tuggeranong, which had the highest levels of people reporting as Christian. 

Read more on this, and look at the graphs, in my report. 

Today’s cartoon

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Cathy Wilcox