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Tuesday, 24 March 2020 09:31

Stuart Robert was right. Centrelink was denying service to Australians Featured

Stuart Robert was speaking the plain truth. Stuart Robert was speaking the plain truth. Courtesy Stuart Robert's website

All technology-savvy individuals in this great country need to cut Stuart Robert some slack. The Government Services Minister was perfectly correct when he described the inability of the Centrelink site to hold up under the traffic it was experiencing as being due to a distributed denial of service attack.

You see, Robert was speaking the truth. Centrelink, as anyone who has wandered through its portals would know, is an expert organisation when it comes to denying service to Australians. How, then, can one blame Robert for giving the actual reason for the situation that eventuated on Monday?

I have been to Centrelink on four occasions since I came to this country nearly 23 years ago. The first was shortly after I landed, in order to register. The second time was to look at job listing, in April 1999, when I lost my first job. The third and fourth occasions were visits made with my son who was looking to obtain any allowance that he was entitled to as a student.

And the one lesson I learned was this: Centrelink staff are adept at denying service to people. My son was asked to fill in forms using the computers at the Centrelink office until the machine itself stopped responding. Then he was asked to go home and complete the forms. The form could not be accessed. My son, impatient as all boys of his age are. gave up and this denial of service probably saved the government some money.

And that, dear reader, is Robert's main function: facilitating denial of service. And he does it very well, despite the fact that he knows next to nothing about technology. Remember the robo-debt fiasco? I doubt anyone has forgotten that exercise.

Australians will recall that this was the man who was billing the taxpayer $2000 per month for excess Internet usage in 2018, claiming that these were for kosher use of the network at his home on the Gold Coast. The Member for Fadden apparently claimed to have been charged this amount because of "connectivity issues".

Robert, no doubt, thought that the inability of people to access the Centrelink website was because the staff who work there were doing their primary job: denying service to Australians.

And so he spoke up, telling the media that it was a distributed denial of service attack – no doubt, because he thought staff at many Centrelink offices across the country were denying service to clients. Get it? Distributed across the country.

Some IT folk who normally offer comment on technical issues were convinced that Robert was speaking about an actual DDoS to the extent that they got in touch with me, offering comment on the issue.

But I doubt they had thought this one through. Robert has his own lingo when it comes to talking about Centrelink. Time for all of us to get savvy about it.


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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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