by Felicity Hingston
Tony Ryan wrote for GumShoeNews some time ago “Who actually controls Australia?”, with a focus on military might. I ask this question again, on the back of the recent Queensland elections and reflecting on the ‘possibility’ that Victoria’s Premier Andrews, among others, has also been complicit in allowing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in through Australia’s ‘back door’.
It seems no longer a question of “Have we been sold out?”, but rather “By whom have we been sold out?”.
With the Queensland Labour ‘win’, the NZ Labour ‘landslide’, and Premier Andrew’s publicised “we stand with Dan” popularity, it seems ALL have achieved revered status for their handling of the coronavirus ‘situation’. I drew the conclusion that “people really do love their servitude” and remain gobsmacked at the extent of acceptance of draconian, disproportionate retraction of freedoms the ‘sheeple’ have not only accepted but have embraced and voted to allow to continue.
How is this conceivable? A few moments of reflection, a light-bulb moment, a blinding flash of the obvious…. Could there possibly be a ‘common’ influence?
It is no secret that Victoria diverged from the federal government ‘path’ with the “Yellow Belt and Brick Road” and the ‘selling off’ of Melbourne Port following the lead of Darwin Port in October 2015 and there are COUNTLESS other examples of ‘sell-offs’ if you care to dig a little.
Clearly, the CCP is no longer satisfied with ‘real estate’ – they are infiltrating our ‘democratic’ elections, being invited in by our ‘trusted’ politicians.
Thought for the day:
It is easy to be a communist in a free democratic society, but try being free in a communist dictatorship.
There were little-publicised ‘issues’ around the Queensland local government elections of March 2020 which came under the spotlight in July 2020, when Peta Credlin interviewed Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson, who revealed a long but little-known involvement of Konnech’s China-based coders.
On 14 July, shortly after the SkyNews broadcast, Geoff Wade, Sino-Southeast Asian historical specialist and Senior Researcher, Australian National University, made several posts on Twitter:
- China-based coders write critical software for the Electoral Commission of QLD (ECQ). Queensland electoral roll ‘at risk’ after Labour government outsources coding role to China. He links to Peta Credlin’s report on 10 July, exposed by Liberal MP Fiona Simpson when the local election results in QLD were delayed “because the Chinese-based coders were in lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis in Wuhan”. “It’s a compromise and risks the security of one of the most critical things which is our elections”.
- Links Brisbane Times article: Inquiry slams ECQ for slow council election results – there were barely any results available on the website on election night.
- Links the QLD parliament documents from which the information on Wuhan coding was taken
- Itnews document that in Oct 2018 the process – to develop new election management system – with election service software provider Konnech was to commence (ECQ contracted Konnech in 2017).
- com photo of Eugene Yu, President and CEO of Konnech, Michigan
- Brisbane times report May 20 “ECQ switched to back-up website days before council elections.” A new ECQ website designed to provide real-time results for the March 28 council elections was identified as high risk for cyber [hacking?]
- Document evidence (in Chinese) that Eugene (Jianwei) Yu is of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology USA, and former officer of American Zhu Kezhen Education Foundation.
- Extracts from Chinese Industrial Espionage: Technology Acquisition and Military Modernisation” by William C. Hannas, James Mulvenon, Anna B. Puglisi, about the Chinese Association for Science and Technology.
The following week on her website, Fiona Simpson wrote: last Friday night I appeared on Sky News with Peta Credlin and exposed the reason for poorly timed reporting of the local council election results was because of the lockdown of the Chinese based reporter based in Wuhan…
On 15 July 2020, during Question Time in Parliament Fiona asked the Premier why Chinese-based coders were used for Queensland’s elections ‘over every QLD coding firm’. The Premier said ‘data is kept here in Australia’, and denied that any electoral roll data was accessed from overseas. Fiona maintains that there is the potential of a security risk for allowing Chinese-based coders to write critical new software for the ECQ. She has strong concerns about Chinese-based coders’ ability “to be free of Chinese Government influence”. “they have intimate understanding of the architecture of the software system”….” with access to sensitive information about the key coding”.
A QLD Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the March 2020 Local elections ‘debacle’ revealed delays were due to “software developers being affected by the Wuhan lockdown in China earlier in the year”. A submission from Chris Fechner (QLD Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Department of Housing and Public Works) to the Inquiry wrote “most of the coding resources were based in Wuhan China and were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 lock-down”. The final development and bug-fixing stages during January and February affected a delay in the delivery of the project.
The inquiry looked at the delays in reporting of results by the new Election Management System (EMS) but it “was not charged with investigating the security-related issues” or cost blowouts or poor functionality.
Fiona’s website article finishes by suggesting security issues were ignored by the guidelines.
VULNERABILITY IN QUESTION
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) undertook to overhaul its aging systems, amid growing awareness for cyber safety and security. Effective, modern computer systems could deliver more automated and cost-effective electoral events, eg by managing the electoral roll, but any move to electronic voting would rest with the Australian Parliament. SMH reported October 30, 2018:
“Electoral Commission launches computer overhaul amid a growing risk of cyber attacks and fears of election meddling”….such as Russian interference in the US election and hacking of the French election,. In a document seeking interest from companies to work on the upgrade the commission recognises “the importance of maintaining the integrity of electoral ICT (information and communication technology)” that has been highlighted by events overseas since the 2016 federal election.
According to Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers, the upgrade was not “driven by an intention to introduce electronic voting”. (Experts warn that electronic voting would create new cyber vulnerabilities.)
Fergus Hanson, a leading cybersecurity expert of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, alludes to vulnerability when he says “If you deleted the electoral roll, or stole it and released it online…”. He called Taiwan the “frontier case” for China, amid fears that China may interfere in the upcoming local elections there.
Whilst experts regard Russia as the ‘principal culprit’ in election interference, ‘China has concentrated on other ways of exerting influence abroad’ what might these be?
The Courier Mail on October 26, 2018, was more explicit about our vulnerability:
“Hacking fears at Queensland’s electoral Commission” “WILL the sweeping new software management system no in development for Queenslands Electoral Commission be vulnerable to Chinese… [courier mail is only available to subscribers, but the title and brief introduction is clear]
Geoff Wade tweets above point to KONNECH as the company contracted by QEC in 2017. WHY THEM? (Remember, Fiona Simpson asked this in Parliament) and WHO ARE THEY?
Here is some verification of Geoff Wade’s tweeted information:
“Konnech Australia PTY Ltd/ LinkedIn (Election Software Provider since 2002. About Us – Since 2002, Konnech has assisted electoral authorities to deliver elections effectively. With a mutual respect for democracy and ensuring safe and secure elections, Konnech Australia was established in January 2018 by Eugene Yu and Greg Denton. A 100% fully owned subsidiary of Konnech Inc, Konnech Australia brings international experience in election logistic and management systems, having worked with electoral authorities serving over 25 million voters across Australia, Canada and USA.”
“Konnech, Inc. – Election Service Software Provider” gives information about the Products of Konnech. “PollChief® offers a comprehensive management suite which enables election administrators to store and access detailed information…. COMPANY NEWS gives the uptake of Pollchief® clients by date. “January 29, 2018 – The Electoral Commission of QLD, responsible for conducting State, Local Government and industrial elections in Queensland, Australia, became a client using Konnech’s PollChief® and AB Vote product lines.
BTW: ‘Silver Microsoft Partner’ and ‘iOS Developer’ are listed as PARTNERS of Konnech.
KONNECH INC is NOT Australian. It is based outside Lansing, Michigan, and headed up by Chinese native EUGENE YU. Information on linkedIn informs us Eugene Yu, American-based Konnech owner, established a new Australian subsidiary “for the project” in January 2018.
A quick search about Eugene Yu revealed that he migrated to the US some forty years ago, that he was born in Incheon, South Korea, and is a “Chinese National”. He founded Konnech Inc in Michigan, US in 2002.
I am unable to verify or refute Geoff Wade’s tweet, that Eugene Yu is of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology (CAST), which is explained further in the Chinese Industrial Espionage book, with the serious implication of technology transfer and close association with CCP [more detail at the end of this article]. However, I did some sleuthing to discover that the only difference in the Chinese script titles given to CAST was indeed the two extra characters 留美 to indicate ‘residing in America’. Since both ‘organisations’ use the Chinese script 中国 (China) and NOT 中文 (Chinese), one might consider that the USA ‘branch’ is actually “China residing in America”.
Therefore is it such a stretch of the imagination that Konnech could be a CCP infiltration that has slipped under the radar as an ‘American’ company?
Concerns raised in October 2018 about AEC contracting a Chinese company were strengthened/confirmed by an inqld.com article on May 19, 2020, before the July expose. The IT experts were “locked down in Wuhan”, and therefore not available to address “unacceptable issues in security and load capacity” within the system which raised concerns of vulnerability to hacking. The commission decided to resort to a contingency website but, data quality issues (relating to the collection and manual data entry) resulted in delays of results being posted. An inquiry was set up in the hope of avoiding a repeat at the October state election.
It was the decision of the former commissioner, Walter Van der Merwe, to acquire the Konnech system. According to Queensland Customer and Digital Officer Chris Fechner and others involved, the commission severely underestimated the scope of the product changes during the procurement exercise as well as the substantial skills and capacity uplift required to deliver it. When Van der Merwe stepped down in February 2018 he left a lot of work to be done on the project – “at this time the project was significantly challenged and lacked adequate governance capability to recover the project”, Fechner said.
It seems Fiona Simpson was correct when she wrote that the commission inquiry had focussed almost solely on result-reporting delays by the new Election Management System (EMS) but “was not charged with investigating the security-related issues” or cost blowouts or poor functionality.
DO WE TRUST KONNECH?
Here’s a screenshot from the Konnech website. From the drop-down menu, PRODUCTS, there are more details – Here are 3 examples:
Signature verification? Identification? sample ballots? As their website admits openly, they can store and access detailed information.
IF YOU AREN’T CONCERNED BY THIS, YOU SHOULD BE.
WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANY AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT TRUST THIS SORT OF OUTSOURCING? WHY has it taken till now, AFTER a Queensland State Election, for this information to come to light?
Attributed to Stalin:
“it’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes”.
So, WHO ACTUALLY CONTROLS AUSTRALIA?
Given what the world is now learning about the rampant cyber election fraud in the recent US election, with CCP and international fingerprints all over it, perhaps we as a nation might need to pay significantly more attention to just who really is “counting OUR votes.”
From Geoff Wade’s Tweets, regarding the Chinese Industrial Espionage, I type here the two pages he shared, for those who want to read them. (The original source offers references.)
P1. “Straddling the line between PRC [Peoples’ Republic of China, aka PPC] organizations in the US and US-based china advocacy groups is the Chinese Association for Science and Technology (中国留美科技协会), a “non-political” professional association founded in NYC in 1992, whose 11 chapters span 30 states. Although the Organization does not claim direct affiliation with its PRC namesake (also CAST 中国科技协会), CAST-USA lists CAST China as one of its two “partners” (the other is the MOE’s China Education and Research Network.) The PRC connection is further spelled out in CAST-USA’s charter, where it claims to “serve as a ‘bridge’ between the US and China for both personnel and information exchanges, and for cooperation in science and technology, economics, trade and other areas. The organization goes on to list under its “activities” the following:
To establish cooperative relations with American corporations, enterprises, institutions and organizations, to create favourable conditions and environment for cooperation between the American and Chinese people in seeking funds, market development, technology transfer and investment opportunities between the United States and China.”
P2. “A critical reader might ask why this “US” org. emphasizes a need for relations with US organisations. In apposition to what? We also note in the last phrase the penultimate position of “technology transfer”, the preferred spot for key elements in a Chinese list and what CAST-USA is all about. Then there is the US org’s Chinese name, which differs from the PRC organisation’s name by two characters only (留美 = “residing in America”)….A survey of CAST-USA’s literature demonstrates its orientation and the beneficiary of its activities.
CAST-USA lists among its “advisors” current and former members of the Chinese Academy of Science and Chinese Academy of Engineering, the PRC’s highest scientific bodies. Also named are former Minister of Science and technology Zhu Lilan, members of China’s National Natural Science Foundation, members of China’s National People’s Congress and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and professors at PRC universities. These advisors play active roles in the US organisation’s proceedings.”
The book is available here– written by two ‘leading government analysts’ and an expert on Chinese cyber networks: “this new book [first published 2013] is the first full account, inside or outside government, of China’s efforts to acquire foreign technology”; draws on Chinese language sources, the authors place the new research in historical context and examine the PRC’s policy support for economic espionage, clandestine technology transfers, theft through cyberspace and the impact on the future of the US.