Thursday 30 September 2010

Telstra continues down the path to irrelevance as Thodey tries to woo MPs with canapés & cocktails

Market share not what it used to be, share price in a downward spiral since 1999 and reaching a record low recently, dividends not as golden as they used to be, profit margins getting slimmer, a company profile which is often a public relations nightmare - and now national telecommunications 'giant' Telstra has added insult to injury by trying to lobby a federal MP who just happens to have seen Thodey's razor gang at work in her own electorate.

This is the Member for Page's response to David 'let them eat cake' Thodey in a media release on 28 September 2010:

Saffin condemns Telstra decision to close Call Centre

Page MP Janelle Saffin said Telstra Business has today shown its contempt for its employees and for Regional Australia with its decision to close the Grafton Call Centre on November 23.

Ms Saffin said with this move Telstra missed an opportunity to turn around public opinion and show it can be a good corporate citizen.

"By ignoring the unprecedented local campaign to save the local Telstra jobs, Telstra has made it pretty clear how much it values us here in the regions.

"The organisation has chosen to ignore its employees, the union, the Mayor, and State and Federal representatives and about 6000 local people who signed a petition asking to keep the centre open.

"Telstra will now find it has very poor standing in the local community and faces the loss of a lot of local business.

"This decision shows a total lack of imagination. Telstra couldn't see that expanding their operations in this region could have been a cost saving.

"I note that CEO David Thodey regularly talks about Telstra's new push to improve customer service, but the Corporation somehow believes that the best way to improve customer service is to cut jobs.

"Today in Parliament all MPs received an invitation to cocktails with Mr Thodey in Canberra next month.

"I have answered that along with more than 6000 people in the Clarence Valley, I want the 108 jobs in Grafton and not the canapés and cocktails.

"Today I have lodged a Notice of Motion in the Parliament calling for the condemnation of this appalling decision.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Daily Examiner photoshops Telstra CEO with predictable results

Never say there will be no lingering bitterness over Telstra's decision to axe around 180 jobs in the Clarence Valley and strip about $6 million in wages from the local economy.
In today's Daily Examiner David Thodey's image has obviously been photoshopped as an invitation for a bit of anatomical comparison.
I'm happy to oblige...........



Just how thick is Tony Abott et al?

Fair dinkum!

Abbott's mob put up Bruce Scott who, despite the comments that follow about the coalition parties, is more than a half decent bloke for the spot of Deputy Speaker.

And, surprise, surprise, Scott was rolled 78 votes to 71.

Gee! That was an earth-shattering surprise!

Who, apart from Abbott and his half (and that's an extreme exaggeration) brained deputy Julie Bishop would have thought Scott, with his National Party baggage would capture the imagination, let alone the votes, of the Independent MPs who had previously seen the light and jumped ship from the terminally diseased National Party and its inbred relative the Liberal Party?

It isn't just lack of money which makes for a shorter life - it's often discrimination by the health care professions

Last Monday morning I caught a news item on ABC radio concerning a study commissioned by Catholic Health Australia which reportedly showed that an affluent person lives longer than a poor person. Around three years longer.

I immediately looked down at my wristwatch and began to count the seconds - as surely as night follows day it came across the airwaves.

In this instance it was a certain Jesuit priest Fr. Frank Brennan (pictured opposite); who baldly stated "If you come from a poor, dysfunctional family without education, of course your health outcomes are going to be worse than if you are from a well-off, functional family which has a good education."

Yes, that's right, the bottom line is that it is all the fault of the dysfunctional family.

Never mind that Australian society subtlety discriminates against those who are obviously in the lower socio-ecomonic strand. That the social determinates of health and well being are a lot more complex than alleged family dysfunction.

When giving such a statement to the media don't make an effort to point out that the affluent and articulate are likely to be seen by the medical and related heath care professions as being the peers of people in these groups and, therefore more time and energy is frequently expended in exploring treatment options and providing medical care even within the public health system.

Stay silent on the fact unofficial medical service rationing is occurring in this country and that it is not often occurring to those with money. In fact it has already been admitted that living in regional Australia often results in lower life expectancy for some life threatening diseases and, there is some evidence that those with higher incomes may receive more referral to specialist doctors if New Zealand research translates to Australia as I suspect it might.

Do not even consider that such unconscious systemic discrimination (based on socio-economic status, ethnicity or diagnosis) leads to poorer health outcomes in our supposedly democratic and egalitarian society.

* A quick Google search using the term "discrimination by health professionals" displayed over 83,000 results including discussion of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, diagnosis and income levels.

Journalism and ethics - can they ever share the same bed?

I'm still trying to puzzle this out.
After interviewing a blogger apparently on the proviso that his anonymity would be preserved, a journalist later decides to out that same blogger on what seems to be a personal slow news day.
Or was old fashioned jealousy at the root of this unethical outing?
This is James Massola in justification mode:
"As I wrote on August 7 after interviewing Jericho (preserving his anonymity) about the piece that sparked debate: "Across Twitter a conversation bubbled and crackled as journalists and readers debated the merits of reportage from the campaign trail. Such a public conversation about journalism was unimaginable five years ago. If for no other reason, the incident demonstrated why Twitter, and blogs, matter."
So why did I out Grog if I thought he should keep blogging?
As a prolific blogger and tweeter, Jericho was putting information in the public domain to provoke discussion and debate. It might have been a hobby, but by engaging directly via Twitter with dozens of journalists, Jericho and his views became part of the public debate - and in an age in which the dissemination of information has been democratised, his scribblings had an influence."

Whatcha been drinking Jimmy?

Tuesday 28 September 2010

A new electorate for Luke Hartsuyker?

I know my hearing isn't anything like it was in my younger days (and some say I'm selectively deaf), but I'll swear black-n-blue that Luke Hartsuyker was sworn in as the Member for Cowan in the House of Representatives this morning.

That left me wondering, who is the Member for Cowper?

State sanctioned assassination: and you thought the world was scary enough as it is..........

Ever since the 11 September 2001 terrorists attacks in the United States of America started a global hysteria and two unlawful wars, the minds of Australian legislators and the legislation they enact have been quietly converging towards a point where they march in tandem with repressive excesses found in American law.

So this latest example of how insane the US Federal Administration has become is disturbing in the lead it gives Australian politicians of all political persuasions:

But what's most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is "state secrets": in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are "state secrets," and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

The legal arguments can be found at Scribd in Alaulaqi v Obama Complaint* and at FireDogLake in NASSER AL-AULAQI, on his own behalf and as next ) friend acting on behalf of ANWAR AL-AULAQI v. BARACK H. OBAMA, President of the United States; ROBERT M. GATES, Secretary of Defense; and LEON E. PANETTA, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency**:

* 4. Outside of armed conflict, both the Constitution and international law prohibit targeted killing except as a last resort to protect against concrete, specific, and imminent threats of death or serious physical injury. The summary use of force is lawful in these narrow circumstances only because the imminence of the threat makes judicial process infeasible. A targeted killing policy under which individuals are added to kill lists after a bureaucratic process and remain on these lists for months at a time plainly goes beyond the use of lethal force as a last resort to address imminent threats, and accordingly goes beyond what the Constitution and international law permit.
The government's refusal to disclose the standard by which it determines to target U.S. citizens for death independently violates the Constitution: U.S. citizens have a right to know what conduct may subject them to execution at the hands of their own government. Due process requires, at a minimum, that citizens be put on notice of what may cause them to be put to death by the state.
Plaintiff seeks a declaration from this Court that the Constitution and international law prohibit the government from carrying out targeted killings outside of armed conflict except as a last resort to protect against concrete, specific, and imminent threats of death or serious physical injury; and an injunction prohibiting the targeted killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi outside this narrow context. Plaintiff also seeks an injunction requiring the government to disclose the standards under which it determines whether U.S. citizens can be targeted for death.

** This case is a paradigmatic example of one in which no part of the case can be litigated on the merits without immediately and irreparably risking disclosure of highly sensitive and classified national security information. The purpose of this lawsuit is to adjudicate the existence and lawfulness of alleged targeting decisions and to compel the disclosure of any "secret criteria" used to make those alleged determinations. Plaintiff's complaint alleges (i) that the United States has carried out "targeted killings" outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, Compl. ¶ 13, (ii) and has specifically targeted Anwar al-Aulaqi, Compl. ¶¶ 19-21, and, in particular, (iii) that Anwar al-Aulaqi is allegedly subject to the use of lethal force "without regard to whether, at the time lethal force will be used, he presents a concrete, specific, and imminent threat to life, or whether there are reasonable means short of lethal force that could be used to address any such threat." Compl. ¶ 23. At every turn, litigation of plaintiff's claims would risk or require the disclosure of highly sensitive and properly protected information to respond to allegations regarding purported secret operations and decision criteria. Even if some aspect of the underlying facts at issue had previously been officially disclosed, the Government's privilege assertions demonstrate that properly protected state secrets would remain intertwined in every step of the case, starting with an adjudication of the threshold issue of plaintiff's standing (i.e., whether or not there is an alleged "target list" which includes plaintiff's son, and whether he is being subjected to the threat of lethal force absent an imminent threat or a reasonable alternative to force), and the inherent risk of disclosures that would harm national security should be apparent from the outset.

The now retired Hon. Justice Michael Kirby's early words of caution have largely gone unheeded by successive federal and states attorneys-general in this country and, there is no guarantee that a Gillard Government would be anymore respectful of the human rights of citizen's than the Obama Government in America.

AUSTRALIAN LAW - AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, 11 October 2001:

It is impossible for Australian lawyers to collect in Canberra and to proceed in these next few days as if nothing has happened. It is impossible for us to see our Constitution as if it speaks only to Australia and Australians. It speaks of us to the world. It is impossible to pretend that the comfortable topics of the legal profession have the same priority as this moment. It is necessary for us to reflect upon the moment. But to do so keeping our priorities and viewing recent events in the context which our Constitution, our institutions, our law and our tradition of human rights demands that we take.....
In the course of a century, we, the lawyers of Australia, have made many errors. We have sometimes scorned those who, appearing for themselves, could not reach justice. We have gone along with unjust laws and procedures. We have been instruments of discrimination and it is still there in our books. We have not done enough for law reform. We have often been just too busy to repair every injustice. Yet in some critical moments, lawyers have upheld the best values of our pluralist democracy. In the future, we must keep it thus. To preserve liberty, we must preserve the rule of law. That is our justification and our challenge.

Monday 27 September 2010

Yamba's Cow Boy Dan on ABC's Strictly Speaking

Brendan ("Breaker") Morant, aka Cow Boy Dan, who hails from Yamba (no, truth be known, he's from a little village south of Yamba) will be a contestant on ABC TV's first episode of Strictly Speaking on Wednesday night.

Brendan shot to local fame when, as an outsider, he appealed to his high school's masses with a cleverly crafted speech and was (much to the dismay of school officialdom) elected school captain for 2001.

However, as Brendan's profile on the ABC website shows, capturing that leadership position was nothing new. His first speech elected him as school captain when he was 13.

Pic blow shows Brendan (circa 2001) in one of his signature hats
(Credit to MHS's Rocky Mouth and, I think, to HO'K a former teacher at MHS)

Australian Society: Keeping up with the Joneses

A brief look at some of the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics series Measures of Australian Progress 2010:


In the decade to 2007-08, the average real equivalised disposable household weekly income for people in the low income group increased by 41%.
Over the same period, the average real equivalised disposable household weekly income increased by 46% for middle income people.


Overall, in 2004-05 and 2008, average real equivalised gross weekly household income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was around 61% of the corresponding figure for non-Indigenous people.


.... in both 2003-04 and 2005-06 the 20% of households with the lowest wealth accounted for just 1% of total household net worth at an average of $27,000. In comparison, the wealth of households in the highest net worth quintile accounted for 59% of total household net worth in 2003-04 and 61% in 2005-06, at an average of $1.7 million per household (ABS 2007a)


In 2007-08, over half (55%) of low income households received government pensions and allowances as their principal source of income.

The proportion of households whose main source of income was government pensions and allowances has generally declined over the decade 1997-98 to 2007-08. Over this period, lone person households, where the reference person was aged 65 years and over, were the most likely to receive government pensions and allowances as their main source of income (78% in 1997-98 and 76% in 2007-08). In 2007-08, 45% of one parent families with dependent children received government benefits as their main source of income, decreasing from 54% in 1997-98. Factors contributing to the general decline over this decade in government pensions and allowances as householders' main source of income may include: strong jobs growth, the closure or phasing out of some payments, and tightening of eligibility criteria to receive some payments (ABS 2010a).

Home ownership rates have been fairly stable at around 70% for many decades. As measured in the ABS Census of Population and Housing, in 1971 the home ownership rate was 69% and in 2006 it was 70%, with small fluctuations around 70% in the intervening Censuses.


Rental affordability for low income households (that is the proportion of housing costs to gross income for low income renters) has remained constant over the past 10 years (28% in 1997-98 and 27% in 2007-08).

(a) Year ending 30 June. Data unavailable for years 1999, 2002, 2005, and 2007 and have been interpolated.


For one group in the homeless population, information obtained from government-funded specialist homelessness agencies, and compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, showed that during the year 2008-09 there were 204,900 people (one in every 105 Australians) who received support at some point during that year. More females (62%) than males (38%) received support, while males were slightly more likely to have repeat periods of homelessness. The most common reason for seeking assistance was due to domestic or family violence (22% of support periods), relationship or family breakdown (10%) and other financial difficulty (8%). Due to changes in data collection methods, these estimates cannot be directly compared with previous years (AIHW 2010).


Between 1997 and 2009, there has been a continuing rise in the proportion of people with a vocational or higher education qualification (from 46% to 63%), continuing a trend seen for several decades.
This increase has largely been driven by the rise in the proportion of people with a higher education qualification (ie. a bachelor degree or above) - rising from 16% in 1997 to 27% in 2009. The proportion of people with a vocational qualification also increased, although at a much slower pace, rising from 30% in 1997 to 34% in 2009, with most of this increase occurring prior to 2005.


Over the last decade the annual average unemployment rate for Australia has generally decreased, from 6.9% in 1999 to 5.6% in 2009.
However, between 2008 and 2009 the unemployment rate increased by 1.4 percentage points, reflecting the recent economic downturn.

Over the last three decades the proportion of employed people working part time has risen from 16% to 29%, while over the same period the underemployment rate rose from 2.7% in 1979 to a high of 7.7% in 2009. Since 2000, there have been more underemployed people in Australia than unemployed.


The average number of hours worked per week has decreased over the last three decades, falling from 35.7 hours per week in 1979 to 32.8 hours per week hours in 2009, largely due to an increase in the proportion of people working part time. The average hours worked by full-time workers rose during the 1990s, peaking at 41.3 hours per week in 2000, but decreasing to 39.7 hours per week in 2009. The average number of hours worked per week by part-time workers increased slightly over time, from around 15 hours in the 1980s to approximately 16 hours from 2000 onwards.

The proportion of employed people who worked 50 hours or more a week increased from 14% in 1979 to 19% in 1999, before falling to 15% in 2009 during the recent economic downturn. The proportion of employed people who worked very long hours (60 hours or more a week) increased from 7% in 1979 to 9% in 1992, where it stayed until 2000 before declining to 7% in 2009.

That's the Ocker spirit!

"AUSTRALIANS drank less beer, smoked fewer cigarettes and left the car in the garage more often during the global financial crisis.
Figures contained in final Budget figures for the past financial year reveal the nation tightened its collective belt amid the fiscal gloom."

Seems we're a hardy lot when the chips are down according to the Final Budget Outcome 2009-10.

The Federal Treasurer is skiting that "international credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's said Australia has "exceptionally strong public sector finances even among the 'AAA' rated sovereigns" and Tony Teh Wrecker is not saying much on the subject at all.

Last Friday also saw Treasury release redacted versions of the Red Book for those interested in doing a bit of trawling:

In light of the public interest in the Incoming Government Brief for a returned Labor Government (the so-called Red Book) and consistent with the policy intent that material be published where there is a general interest in its contents, the Treasury has decided to publish the information released under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the Act) in relation to the Red Book. Also published is the Treasury’s brief providing an overview of the Treasury portfolio and the related support services (referred to as the administration brief).

Treasury Incoming Government Brief - Red Book - Redacted - Part 1
Treasury Incoming Government Brief - Red Book - Redacted - Part 2
Treasury Incoming Government Brief - Red Book - Redacted - Part 3
Treasury Incoming Government Brief - Red Book - Redacted - Part 4
Treasury - Administration Brief - Red Book 572.75kb

Sunday 26 September 2010

Truth is the first casualty in Senator Nash's media releases

When Janelle Saffin was first elected as the Federal Member for Page in November 2007 she hit the ground running. Very early on she began to actively lobby on behalf of residents in her wide and diverse electorate.

In January 2008 Ms. Saffin was lobbying the Communications Minister to delay shutting down the CDMA network because of residents' complaints concerning bad reception from Telstra's newly introduced Next G and, in 2009 she and the Member for Braddon were instrumental in making Telstra backdown over its introduction of yet another service charge - this time for paying accounts over-the-counter or by post.

So my mouth quite literally fell open when I came across this 15 September 2010 media release from Fiona Nash. A Nationals senator who obviously has political doublespeak down pat as she reverses the order of events and attempts to write Ms. Saffin out of the very campaign she started in partnership with Clarence Valley residents and local media.

Follow Cansdell's Telstra lead, Nash urges Saffin

Telstra's decision to axe 108 business call centre jobs from Grafton is short-sighted and wrong, the NSW Nationals Senator, Fiona Nash, said.
Senator Nash, who's the Nationals' Duty Senator for Page, added she'd be joining Clarence Nationals MP Steve Cansdell's campaign to have the decision reversed and wants to see Page MP Janelle Saffin follow the Nationals' lead.
"As Steve has shown time and time again, the job of a local MP is not about rubber stamping city decisions by your party bosses but fighting for better outcomes for your local community," she said.
"I have today written to Telstra management, asking them to consult with the local community and suggesting a proper review would likely find it is in the best interests of the company to expand rather than axe its operations in the Clarence.
"This is a very bad look for Telstra and a very bad look for Labor at a time when both are media-spinning their supposed commitment to regional Australia.
"I am a frequent visitor to Grafton so I know it is a high-unemployment area bursting with talent and begging to grow, given a fair chance.
"Steve Cansdell is right on the mark when he says a better decision would be to move call centre jobs from Brisbane and Melbourne to Grafton rather than the other way around."
Nash's advisors and staff need to have a quiet word with her, because she is fast making herself a laughing stock on the NSW North Coast.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Come and enjoy Opera With The Cows at Cowper, 17 October 2010

Travelling along the highway to Grafton I passed a banner which announced the very first Opera With The Cows on the NSW North Coast.

According to its official website:

Opera with the Cows is being presented jointly by the North Coast Flute Society and Cowper Public School. It is an exciting new event that will be held annually in the grounds of the school, opposite the mighty Clarence River. A stage will be constructed in the school grounds and the playground will be transformed into a musical arena.

The inaugural event will feature the talents of Catherine Burgess, soprano, Nadene Flick, mezzo soprano, and talented sisters Katie and Emma Goodard.

These two stars will be joined on stage by the students of Cowper Public School. These children have built up an amazing following due to their extraordinary musical talents. They have performed in the Sydney Opera House three times and the girls choir has won numerous prizes in competitions.

The NightinGirls choir will also perform on the night. They have been the recipients of the Open Choir award at the Grafton Eisteddfod for the last three years.

Tickets available at Buckleys Grafton Music
Ph: (02) 6642.4717
Fax 6642.3683

Adults $20
Concession $15
Children $10
Family $15

How many government requests for data has Google Australia received so far this year?

How's Australia running in the government spying & censorship stakes out on the Google digital race track?
Google Transparency Report's latest 2010 numbers crunch to show only the USA, Brazil, India, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have more government requests for info on digital citizens than Oz.
Unlike the second half of last year, an Oz guvmint hasn't yet requested the disappearing of a blog.

Australia January to June 2010:

200 data requests
14 removal requests, for a total of 639 items
92.9% of removal requests fully or partially complied with
  • Geo (except Street View)
    • 1 non-court order requests to remove content
    • 1 items requested to be removed

  • Web Search
    • 7 court orders to remove content
    • 316 items requested to be removed

  • YouTube
    • 2 court orders to remove content
    • 2 non-court order requests to remove content
    • 7 items requested to be removed

  • Groups
    • 1 court orders to remove content
    • 314 items requested to be removed

  • Gmail
    • 1 non-court order requests to remove content
    • 1 items requested to be removed

Google's Australian traffic from 1st January to 20th September 2010:

Do your thing with the mouse to make graph grow

Friday 24 September 2010

Cows & Cows & Cows

Credits: Thanks Steve Bass of TechBite for the tip on this one. 

Original work by Cyriak Harris

Coffs Coast Advocate needs a compass

Wednesday's Coffs Coast Advocate carried a report about an incident where a motorist fled the scene of a crash near Grafton.

According to the Advocate the incident was at Clarenza, west of Grafton.

Wrong, wrong wrong!

Clarenza is east of Grafton.

Looks like a compass is sorely needed at the Advocate.

Here's a suggestion: the Advocate could run a "Wanted" ad in its classifieds section. One of its readers must have a spare compass that could be given to the paper in exchange for a free subscription.

Read the Advocate's piece, written by Matt Deans, here.

Credit: Map from Google maps

Results of Fair Trading checks in Grafton, Maclean and Yamba

Fair Trading Deputy Commissioner Steve Griffin today released the results of a recent NSW Fair Trading education and compliance campaign in Grafton, Maclean and Yamba.

Mr Griffin said results from the week long campaign showed some local traders needed to improve their compliance with Fair Trading laws.

“Between 9 to 13 August, 59 businesses were visited and Fair Trading officers carried out a range of compliance inspections, including checking licensing at motor dealers, motor vehicle repairers, travel agents, pawn brokers and second hand dealers, as well as checking business names,” he said.

“In total, 34 breaches were detected and 26 inspection reports issued.

“Notably, the level of compliance by motor dealers was disappointing, with only three out of seven traders compliant.

“A motor dealer in Yamba received two penalty notices totalling $660 for failing to have a prescribed notice signed by a customer and for not having the prescribed form attached to the vehicle.

“Another motor dealer in Maclean received a $330 penalty notice for misrepresenting a vehicle’s year of manufacture.”

Mr Griffin said local businesses and traders benefited from attending presentations focused on their areas of activities, as well as visits to their premises.

“Fair Trading staff delivered 11 information sessions attended by 360 participants, on topics including: associations, tenancy, motor vehicles and general fair trading information,” he said.

“Members of the local indigenous community participated in a Kooris and Cars presentation delivered jointly with the Roads and Traffic Authority.

“Seventy five year 9 and 10 commerce students from Maclean High School took part in a Money Stuff program where they learnt about refunds and warranties, credit and mobile phones.”

Mr Griffin said Fair Trading staff distributed 100 Seniors Guides (in PDF format: size 1.57Mb) to Maclean Meals on Wheels and more than 150 product safety kits to local pre-schools and day care centres.

“As a result of the visit, local consumers are now more aware of their rights and where to go for information and help,” he said.

Source: NSW Fair Trading

The wheel of the Australian Press Council grinds slowly but it does grind

A statistic which does not generate local pride. Out of the twenty-nine complaints adjudicated by the Press Council of Australia so far this year, NSW North Coast newspapers have featured twice.

February 2010:

The Australian Press Council has upheld a complaint by SANE Australia against a bylined article and two pictures in the weekend edition of The Tweed Daily News of August 22-23, 2009......
While there was a clear public interest in the publication of the report about a missing man, and the search for him, there was no justification for the publication of the photos in a form that clearly identified the man and did not adequately respect his privacy and sensibilities. Because it knew a mental health assessment was being made, the newspaper should have been more cautious in the way it treated the incident, including publication of the bylined article, which could have been written more sensitively.

March 2010:

The Australian Press Council has upheld a complaint by Douglas Baggaley against The Northern Star, Lismore, over an article arising from the funeral of his mother.
The December 30 article, headed Baggaleys miss Byron funeral of grandmother, reported that her two grandsons who were in jail did not attend. Half the article detailed the convictions of the grandsons for crimes committed in 2007.
Mr Baggaley said that the article belittled his family at a time of deep loss and had outraged and insulted the family, their friends and the community. He demanded an apology from the newspaper......
However the Council believes the newspaper erred in gratuitously highlighting the grandsons and their criminal records at such length and in such detail that the article was clearly unbalanced and, as a result, unduly offensive to the family, in a time of grief. The newspaper's failure to print any public expression of regret exacerbated the offence.

Telstra says it's time to move on......

In good ol' Granny Herald last Wednesday:
"TELSTRA boss David Thodey says the telecommunications company is becoming impatient with delays in finalising its deal with the national broadband network.
Mr Thodey said 18 months after the NBN project was unveiled, it was important for the country, and for Telstra, to finish the regulatory work and pass implementing legislation.
''We need to move on,'' he told reporters in Hobart yesterday."
Well young Dave knows quite a bit about moving on - just ask the 180 people in the Clarence Valley who will be losing their jobs when he closes down Telstra's call centre in Grafton.
I've stuck with Telstra through thick and thin - through numerous name changes, decreased services, increased billing charges, partial privatization and Teh Three Amigos.
But taking away that many jobs in one hit in one NSW North Coast town? It'll be Telstra which will be moving on from my house.
Any one got the Optus number handy?

Thursday 23 September 2010

Boosting the Speaker's power in the House of Representatives

The following statement may or may not be correct as to the constitutional validity of 'pairing' the Speaker of the House of Representatives, however I remain uncomfortable with the notion of the Speaker having anything but the casting vote set out in The Australian Constitution Part III s40 Voting in House of Representatives.

In one scenario predicated on the statement below:
Pairing the Speaker would nullify the vote of another member of parliament and if a deadlock was the result of such a pairing the Speaker is required to deliver a casting vote - in effect the Speaker's position would be expressed twice in this instance while all other MPs (except the paired MP who would have no vote) would have only been able to express their position once in the same division of the House.


22 September 2010

The Government has today been provided with advice by the Commonwealth Solicitor-General on a question pertaining to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Forty-third Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The advice considers whether there is any constitutional impediment to a pairing arrangement between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and another member from an opposing political party. The advice deals with a possible arrangement involving a pairing of members from opposing parties.

The Solicitor-General has advised that there are no necessary constitutional impediments in such an arrangement, subject to certain provisos.

One proviso is that the arrangement could not give the Speaker a deliberative vote nor deprive the Speaker of a casting vote. The arrangement entered into by the Government and the Opposition does not breach this proviso, as the Speaker would continue to exercise a casting vote only, consistent with the Commonwealth Constitution.

A further proviso is that adherence to the arrangement by the "paired" Member could only be voluntary. The pairing arrangements agreed to by both the Government and the Opposition are voluntary.

The Government notes the Solicitor-General's advice that there is no necessary constitutional impediment to a pairing arrangement between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and another member from an opposing political party.

The Solicitor-General's advice has been provided to the Opposition.

The Gillard Government remains fully committed to the "Agreement for a Better Parliament: Parliamentary Reform" which was adopted on 6 September 2010.

Solicitor-General's advice In the matter of the Office of Speaker of the House of Representatives [PDF 285KB]

Who is Supertintendent Pieter Poynton APM (Ret) and why is he out there in cyberspace?

On International Sweep Day this week the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) swept the Internet looking for sites which scam the young.

It seems the digital highway is littered with people pretending a position or occupation to which they are not entitled in the real world or dubiously offering goods and services they may not have the capacity to deliver.

However, not all misrepresentations out there in cyberspace are aimed at scamming money. Sometimes the motives are more complex.

The prevelance of individuals who pretend a military past has seen the formation of the Australian and New Zealand Military Impostors (ANZMI) website which appears to represent a group of irate individuals intent on exposing this form of fraud.

Of course military rank is not the only rank type assumed by the wannabe brigade. Just this week I was sent a link to one intriguing persona which has surfaced - a certain 'decorated' Superintendent Pieter Poynton APM (Retired).

I look forward to seeing how this latest phantom develops and how many online and print newspapers get taken in.

Telstra caught out in a big fat lie

Click on image to enlarge

On 21 September The Daily Examiner informed Telstra that "We have been lied to. It's bad enough that we could lose 180 jobs, but to be lied to about the reasons is incredibly galling."

To be told that the national telecommunications company is pulling a customer service facility out of the Clarence Valley because there isn't a big enough workforce in the area to consolidate it here and then be told that Telstra had not even advertised locally, exposed the lie for what is was - an attempt to pass the blame back onto the community.

One has to wonder why this national telecommunications company decided to be less than straightforward with the Clarence Valley community and whether it now regrets the very vocal local fallout from this lack of honesty.

For those interested in signing the community petition asking Telstra to reconsider its intention to close the Grafton Call Centre, it can be found at a stand located within Grafton Shopping World until the end of the week.

To express your opinion directly to Telstra's CEO email

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Dating tips for the rich, powerful and not necessarily young and single

There is apparently a healthy supply of lonely chief executives seeking a well-connected soulmate. A dating service in Sydney has spruiked its founder as being responsible ''for marrying off CEOs of blue chip companies with renowned celebrities and Australia's social elite''.

Elite Introductions International provided no names of who it has married off. But it seems pretty desperate itself to drum up business.

In a media release the agency compared its founder to Patti Stanger, the host of the US reality TV show Millionaire Matchmaker.

''Unlike Patti, I would never do cattle calls with potential dates for my clients, and confrontational mixers are a no-go zone,'' Trudy Gilbert said.

Apparently Gilbert has a ''little black book that many would die for''. Some of Gilbert's suggestions for pheromone-filled dating experiences include sailing, rock climbing and even a dangerous drive.

''Learn how to slide your car sideways and how to get out of a spin. From an advanced driver course to a one hour thrill rally drive, this is one extreme date that will get the heart pumping,'' her website says.

(Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

So, what other advice does Ms Gilbert provide?

Well, here's a sample:

Golden rules for first dates - tips for women on first dates

1) Don't ask how much money your date earns.
This has to be the number one golden rule. I was appalled by how many women actually ask this question followed by What car do you drive? and Do you own your own home?

2) Don't dress too sexy on the first date.
This is not a good idea unless you are hoping for something to happen at the end of the evening.

3) Try and not wear too much make up.
Men have told me over and over that they don't like girls who wear too much make up. The natural look is much better.

4) Don't wear too much jewellery.
If you are divorced, don't continue to wear your wedding ring either.

5) Don't talk about work the whole time.
This is just plain boring for the other person who is not interested in hearing about your career the whole evening.

Golden rules for first dates - tips for men on first dates

1) Plan the date.
A date that is planned is often more successful than a date that is thrown together at the last moment. Guys take note! An easy way to make a good impression from the start is if you have something planned. An unplanned date can still work but why risk it? At least have a back up plan.

2) Never be late.
There is really no need to say anymore. If you are going to be late, at least call first.

3) Be interested in her.
Focus on her by asking her questions and make the effort to find out who she is. I cringe when I hear men talk about themselves the entire evening, leaving the lady bored and frustrated. And remember no wandering eyes either.

4) Be confident.
Women are drawn to confident men. But we carefully as there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

5) Be a gentleman.
On a first date I would strongly recommend opening doors for your date, pulling out her chair, and pouring her wine. Sadly, today few men do these acts of chivalry so it is an easy way for you to make a good first impression and stand out from your competition.

6) Offer to pay on the first date.
It does not make a good impression if you don't offer. One of the most unappealing traits women find in men is being stingy. Don't let this be the last impression she has of you at the end of the night.

7) Compliment Her.
Give her a sincere compliment at the end of the night and thank her for the date.

If you follow these tips, you have a good chance she will say yes to a second date!

For more advice about dating, check out Elite Introductions here.

The pic of Ms Gilbert (above) is on her website.

The anti-science brigade ramps it up

If you thought that the current climate of anti-science couldn't get much worse than aggressive creationism, intelligent design and climate change denialism, then you have obviously missed a website set up to promote a book and November 2010 conference in Indiana USA.

Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Geocentrism, the academic belief that the Earth is immobile in the center of the universe. Garnering scientific information from physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other sciences, Galileo Was Wrong shows that the debate between Galileo and the Catholic Church was much more than a difference of opinion about the interpretation of Scripture.

Scientific evidence available to us within the last 100 years that was not available during Galileo's confrontation shows that the Church's position on the immobility of the Earth is not only scientifically supportable, but it is the most stable model of the universe and the one which best answers all the evidence we see in the cosmos.

At this rate it won't be long before these jolly souls join the flat earthers in positioning themselves for a comeback via a membership drive.

The University of Western Australia has a survey Attitudes Towards Science currently online:
This study explores people’s beliefs about a wide range of topics, ranging from scientific propositions to claims made in the media and on the internet. In addition, the survey is interested in your attitudes towards your own life and issues confronting modern societies at the moment. The survey consists of around 40 questions and should take less than 10 minutes to complete.

K-K-Keneally is just too cute for words

In 2009 Wayne Swan said that the Rudd Government wouldn't tolerate the NSW Government clawing back a big hunk of the base-rate pension increase for single pensioners in increased rental payments for those in public or community housing.
The Rees Government temporarily placed a stay on implementing the rent increase until September 2010.
This month the Gillard Government has requested the Keneally Government not to claw back this same increase and again the NSW government has temporarily stayed its hand.
Presumably for only a short period after last Monday's indexed pension rise because the last state budget deliberately didn't quarantine that 2009 base-rate increase.
Premier K-K-Keneally is being just a little too cute if she thinks that wiping $18 dollars from the payment in hand received by public housing tenants on single pensions won't be noticed if it doesn't quite coincide with this month's $15 pension increase.
They'll notice Kristina and they're bound to remember on polling day in 2011.

This is the Member for Tweed in June this year in the NSW Parliament:
"But the New South Wales Labor Government is clawing back $7.50 per week from those people who can least afford it. Approximately 28 per cent of the Tweed electorate's population is aged over 65 years. In fact, for this age group the Tweed ranks second in the State, behind Port Macquarie. Aged pensioners have worked hard all their lives and have given a great deal to this great State, if not this great nation, of ours. Yet their pension increase is being clawed back. Some people may say that $7.50 is not a large amount, but it will buy several loaves of bread or other essentials. Many aged pensioners budget down to their last dollar every week. Last year electricity costs increased by 20 per cent and over the next two years they are expected to increase by another 40 per cent. Many pensioners have told me that their bills will increase by $300, $400 or $500 a year, yet all the Government says is that they can get the pensioner rebate to offset the increase. The pensioner rebate is $140, so they will not save anything. In fact, they will be worse off.
Aged pensioners in the Tweed have told me that they take cold showers every second day because they cannot afford to run the electric heater for their hot water systems, and time and again they turn off appliances. In other words, their lifestyle and comforts of living are being eroded. No longer can they afford the things for which they worked hard all their life.
I don't normally agree with much that Geoff Provest has to say, but in this case his words bear repeating.

A bit of background Fair dinkum, you're a bit of a political b*tch aren't you Kristina and Australian pensions increase effective 20 September 2009 and other changes

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Saffin takes Nash to task over local beef industry claims

On 17 September 2010 Nationals Senator Fiona Nash stated that Page Labor MP, Janelle Saffin, is putting her own political survival ahead of the jobs of North Coast farmers and beef industry workers and characterised Saffin's actions as nutty .

Ms Saffin was rather naturally not amused and countered with this media release yesterday:

Saffin calls for increase in frozen meat exports

Page MP Janelle Saffin has hit back at National Party Senator Fiona Nash for her ridiculous claim that Janelle is planning a Private Members Bill that would hurt the local beef industry.

"Once again Senator Nash has not let the facts get in the way of her wild allegations.

"For a start, I have never talked about putting up a Private Members Bill to ban live exports.

"The facts are that in the last Parliament I put forward a Notice of Motion raising concerns about Live Exports. It was listed but did not get debated before the Parliament was dissolved.

"The Notice called for moves to expand Australia's frozen and chilled meat export industry using Australian halal meat exports.

"I plan to reintroduce the Notice of Motion because I believe this is an issue that should be raised in the Federal Parliament.

"There was nothing in my original notice of motion talking about banning live exports, but that hasn't stopped Senator Nash trying to get a headline.

"This is certainly an issue on which many people have strong opinions and I am aware of the arguments for and against live exports, which is why I would like to see the issue raised in Parliament.

"Senator Nash is way off the mark if she thinks I have not discussed this with people in the local beef industry.

"She claims I am not concerned about local, but it is local meatworkers who have come to me on this issue because the live export trade is costing them jobs and the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union is campaigning on this as well.

"Rather than see millions of live sheep and cattle sent offshore for processing, we could be doing more processing here, providing more jobs and value adding locally.

"It is through value adding that we get to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

"There is already a trade in Halal processed frozen meat being exported and we could be expanding this industry and phasing out the live exports.

"Steve Martyn from the Australian Meat Industry Council says the live export trade means we're exporting jobs away from local processing sector without recognising the benefits processing companies bring to their local communities.

"The media interest in the story shows it is timely to raise this debate and we should be looking at the economic and the humanitarian arguments.

"I will not be silenced on this and there is nothing 'nutty' about raising issues of national interest for debate. The only thing nutty here is Senator Nash.

"I suggest in future if she wants to know what I am planning that she contact me, instead of going off half-cocked with her usual pile of misinformation in search of a headline.


Transcript of Saffin's Notice of Motion of 16 March 2010 in OpenAustralia:

That the House:
that the Commonwealth is the primary regulator of animal welfare;
the national and international concerns about the welfare of animals transported under the live animal export trade, both during transportation and their treatment at their destination raised in campaigns by organisations and individuals including the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Princess Ali of Jordan, the
RSPCA, the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel, and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore;
that Australia is one of the few countries to consistently treat animals humanely during slaughter and its meat has gained wide acceptance in the
Middle East as meeting halal standards;
acknowledges the opposition of the
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union and the local meat processors, including Casino Northern Cooperative Meat Company, to the live export trade on the grounds that it has a detrimental effect on the local meat processing industry, affecting jobs and the Australian economy; and
supports moves towards the expansion of the frozen and chilled meat export industry using Australian halal stunned meat exports.

Bread and butter concerns, Mr. Abbott?

Self-professed conservative Catholic and Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, tells us that we shouldn't be concerned about the right of Australian territories to make their own law or the right of citizens to die with dignity.
We should instead be focused on more important issues.

In this country hundreds of thousands of people (or 6.74 individuals per 1,000 standard population) die each year from ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, trachea and lung cancers, dementia and alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, colon and rectum cancer, blood and lymph cancer (including leukaemia), diseases of the kidney and urinary tract, breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, bowel or rectal cancer, cirrhosis and other diseases of liver, skin cancer (such as melanoma), and many more causes than I can easily or comfortably recount here.

Not all of these deaths are due to sudden catastrophic events. Many involve months, if not years, of slow and painful dying - sometimes within the bosum of an extended loving family and sometimes alone with limited community support.

In many areas on the NSW North Coast residents over sixty years of age predominate. Some amongst them would be wondering if dying with dignity will be an option open to them if they enter frail old age with a chronic painful, debilitating disease or terminal illness.

However, Tony Abbott appears to care little for their concerns in the face of failing public health systems, dysfunctional area health services and geographically distant family members. So divorced is he from the practical reality of living with illness and disease, that he chides us all for not focusing on 'great big new taxes' and his desire to become prime minister.

Mr Abbott says there are other, more pressing issues to deal with.
"I'm not denying that there are concerns that people have in this area, but I think that we need a parliament which focuses on bread and butter concerns," he said.

I say to Tony Abbott that dying with dignity is as much a concern for debate as anything he can bring before the federal parliament, because it is closely allied to the individual's basic human right to self-determination and for a great many Australians human rights are a pressing issue.

Monday 20 September 2010

Yes, Kevin - you ARE the alpha male!

The body language, tone of voice and phrasing say it all - Kevin Rudd is strutting his stuff and making sure that the Australian electorate knows that he is the dominate male in the Gillard Government.

From his attempts to take over photo opportunities when he and the Prime Minister are together, the grooming of a child fellow minister when cameras were rolling, his insistence that the media realise he is in charge of the timetable during media conferences, making sure his version of his appointment as Foreign Minister was the one that dominated that day's news cycle and now jetting off to prance across the world stage before Julia Gillard even moves into The Lodge.

Sadly for Kevin, Kudelka's sharp whimsy has brough him undone and exposed the fact that (no matter how one cuts the cloth) his ministry exists at the pleasure of Prime Minister Gillard and Federal Treasurer Swan.

Once Rudd used to be almost likeable. If only Thérèse could convince him of the wisdom of humility......

The Hobart Mercury, 14 September 2010