Brazilian officials set for pay increase after public service strikes; Australian Electoral Commission’s plan to tackle election misinformation: policy and delivery news in brief

By on 21/04/2022 | Updated on 21/04/2022
Jair Bolsonaro
Protests in Brazil have been sparked by president Jair Bolsonaro's announcement that only civil servants whose work strengthens public security would receive pay rises

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Brazil government to boost public servant pay by 5% in July

The government of Brazil is planning an across-the-board salary hike of 5% for public servants starting in July in a bid to resolve industrial action.

The pay increase will cost the federal government around six billion reais (US$1.28 bn) this year, as reported by Reuters. Congress approved the 2022 budget with a limited of 1.7bn reais (US$367.7m) for pay raises, and a constitutional spending cap means the Brazilian government will have to cut other expenses allow for the increase.

Protests were sparked by Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that only civil servants whose work strengthened public security would likely receive pay rises. Many public employees in Brazil have seen their wages stagnate over the last five years, and the country now faces double-digit inflation. Partial work stoppages began in January, and have affected government services including the production of economic statistics.

Read more: Brazil’s public sector reform bill advances through congress

UK Home Office chief asks for ministerial direction to implement Rwanda immigration plan

Priti Patel, the UK home secretary, has used ministerial powers to approve a scheme to divert asylum seekers bound for the UK to Rwanda after officials expressed concern over its value for money.

Patel’s decision to issue the “ministerial direction” means she now takes full responsibility for the scheme.

Issuing of ministerial directions allows UK government departments to implement policies that may otherwise fall foul of guidance on regularity, propriety, value for money, or feasibility. Directions are rare, and this is only the second time the Home Office has used this power in 30 years.

Civil servants in the Home Office are reportedly unhappy about implementing the policy, which will move asylum seekers who arrive in the UK to have their claims processed in Rwanda. Dave Penman, the general secretary of the the FDA trade union that represents senior officials, recently told BBC News: “Civil servants know their job is to support the government of the day. They sign up for that knowing they might not like what the government does.”

He added: “On the more divisive policies, which this clearly is, they face a choice – implement or leave. That could mean elsewhere in the Home Office, another department, or the service.”

Australian Electoral Commission takes on political misinformation ahead of federal election

Misinformation and disinformation will be targets of a campaign soon to be launched by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) ahead of the country’s upcoming federal election.

The campaign, ‘Stop right now, thank you very much’, aims to make voters think twice about the credibility of political information in the run-up to the election on 21 May. It advises people to question whether the information they’re consuming is reliable, current, and potentially part of a scam.

Tom Rogers, AEC commissioner, said the campaign follows a similar one run in 2019, which proved successful.

“Since federation Australian voters have had to assess information attempting to influence their vote. The channels are different, but the voter’s job is the same – to stop and consider,” Rogers said, as reported by The Mandarin.

“While it’s not the AEC’s role to regulate truth in political advertising, we do recognise that misinformation and disinformation are features of modern election campaigns.”

Explicit campaign material seeks to make people shocked, excited or angry, a commissioner explained.

He commented: “It’s normal to react to things we come across but before acting on it every one of us should take the time to stop, check and appropriately consider it.”

Read more: Australia proposes voter ID law to crack down on alleged election fraud

US department appoints 27 AI experts to advisory board

The US Department of Commerce announced the appointment of 27 artificial intelligence (AI) experts to the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee (NAIAC), a group set up to advise the president and federal agencies on matters pertaining to AI policy.

The decision to take the group onto the NAIAC makes them the first in their field to serve on the panel. The NAIAC was established in late 2021 by Gina Raimondo, commerce secretary.

“Artificial intelligence presents a new frontier for enhancing our economic and national security, as well as our way of life. Moreover, responsible AI development is instrumental to our strategic competition with China,” said Don Graves, deputy secretary of commerce.

“At the same time, we must remain steadfast in mitigating the risks associated with this emerging technology, and others, while ensuring that all Americans can benefit.”

The NAIAC will also convene a subcommittee tasked with considering how AI is used in law enforcement. This would involve issues such bias, data security, legal standards with regards privacy rights, civil rights and civil liberties, as well as disability rights.

The committee is due to hold its first meeting on 4 May 2022.

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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