Last Friday night I appeared on Sky News with Peta Credlin and exposed that reasons of the poorly timely of reporting of the local council election results was because of the lock down of the Chinese based reporters based in Wuhan…..
On 15 July during question time in Parliament I asked the Premier how a foreign-owned software company using Chinese-based coders was given the contract for Queensland’s elections over every Queensland-based coding firm? The Premier said data is kept in Australia and denied any electoral roll data was accessed from overseas, however she couldn’t answer to why a foreign-owned company was allowed to undertake this software development, using Chinese-based coders.
Konnech is an American firm which opened a Queensland subsidiary company and uses Chinese-based coders to work on an election management system for the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
I maintain that the Queensland Labor Government has recklessly raised the potential of a security risk for allowing Chinese-based coders to write critical new software for the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
The Queensland Labor Government has a track record of dumb decisions and cost blowouts over IT projects but this one involving the Election Management System is a possible security risk as well.
There are very strong concerns about Chinese-based coders and their ability to be free of Chinese Government influence. They have intimate understanding of the architecture of the software system used by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
For the Electoral Commission of Queensland to allow a contractor to send their work out to China-based coders, with access to sensitive information about the key coding is a bungle. They did this with the knowledge and oversight of the State Government.
The project has also had a series of functional issues and reported cost blowouts.
A Queensland Parliamentary Committee investigated the debacle of the March Local Government Elections where there were lengthy delays in reporting of results. The inquiry revealed the new Election Management System (EMS) had suffered a series of delivery delays before the election with final bug testing also delayed due to software developers being affected by the Wuhan lockdown in China earlier in the year.
However, the committee was not charged with investigating the security-related issues of the EMS systems or the status of the project and its cost blowouts and issues of poor functionality. The EMS was supposed to be ready in time for the 2020 Local Government Elections but a series of bungles after the polls closed saw the EMS become the subject of a Parliamentary Committee inquiry.
The inquiry received an extraordinary submission from the Queensland Chief Customer and Digital Officer Chris Fechner, from the Department of Housing and Public Works who wrote about the EMS: “The delivery of the project was further impacted in the final development and bug fixing stages during January and February 2020, as most of the coding resources were based in Wuhan China and were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 lock-down.”
I find it bizarre that the State Labor Government and ECQ hide behind the procurement guidelines claiming “nothing to see here” and even claiming there was “strong leadership” in the project. Guidelines that ignore security issues aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. It’s a bungle and reckless.
Konnech which won the contract to develop the Election Management System is owned by an American based Eugene Yu, who established a new Australian subsidiary for the project, using Chinese-based software developers.
I will continue to pursue the need for accountability about procurement processes that recognise security, value for money and competency of outcomes.
Fiona Simpson interview with Peta Credlin on Skynews:
15 July 2020: Question Time – Asking the Premier about Chinese-based coders:
Queensland Parliamentary Committee Report:
Submission from the Department of Housing and Public Works, Qld Chief Customer & Digital Officer Chris Fechner (referencing Wuhan, China lockdown impacting Chinese based software developers undertaking final bug testing on Election Management System”: