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Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:12

Why Malcolm Turnbull has Russian hacking on the brain

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There are three possible reasons why Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is apparently spreading the news that Australian elections are vulnerable to hacking by Russia.

First, the man may be suffering from an exaggerated feeling of self-importance; only then could one rationalise his reasoning that Australia matters to Russia in the big scheme of things.

Second, Turnbull may be delusional. This, I would discount at the very outset, for despite his tendency to verbal diarrhoea at times, I have not noticed any signs to indicate that he is living in a fantasy world.

Third, and the most likely reason, Turnbull may be resorting to that factor that is common among leaders around the globe: putting the fear of Moses into the common man to distract his or her attention from other problems that are dogging the country.

Tony Abbott did a wonderful job raising the fear factor when he was prime minister. He went to the extent of trying to send armed forces abroad on their own to fight in various places. One could, of course, attribute such thinking to delusions of grandeur.

Abbott hyped up the fear of terrorism to the extent that he could, and was able to dish out an additional $630 million to the various security agencies that periodically remind us of their presence by announcing how they have screwed up on this mission or that.

Turnbull's bid to raise fears of Russian hacking has been faithfully parroted by Dan Tehan, a faithful acolyte if ever there was one. Tehan, the minister who assists the big man on cyber security, has organised briefings by the main spook agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, to all political party leaders.

Doubtless we have to be grateful that Bronwyn Bishop is no longer an active politician for she may have come out blaming socialism for what Turnbull sees as a Russian plot. But there's Barnaby Joyce...

When there is not a shred of evidence linking Russia to the poll-related data disclosures during the US election campaign, it is quite comical for Turnbull to spread FUD of this kind around.

But then there are issues dogging the man: a seriously flawed bid by Centrelink to collect what it claims are back debts from welfare recipients, a budget that keeps slipping more and more into the red, and indications that dealing with the latest occupant of the White House is going to cause some serious headaches.

Russia is well aware that Australia has no foreign policy of its own and follows American dictates; when Moscow can dictate to the master, why dictate to the slave?

Ponder that if you will, oh agile and innovative one.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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