Unemployment rate questions

It is a matter of concern that a large number of Centrelink employees
find it hard to believe the governments claim about the unemployment

There are several tactics that have been used by the government to
reduce unemployment and the only ones that seem to be working according
to some Centrelink “associates” of mine, are the ones of recatagorising
the people applying for unemployment benefits.

I cannot name names, obviously, due the managerial positions that my
informants occupy within Centrelink.  But, according to
conversations I’ve had with some individuals, the “Actual Unemployment
Rate” is approximately 8.9 to 9.2 percent, taking into account seasonal
and juvenile unemployment.

Many people are denied unemployment benefits due to their own savings
savings, personal assets and or their partner’s employment status,
despite being genuinely unemployed.

The change in legislation that denies a large number of individuals is
one of the main tools used to reduce the “Official” unemployment rate.

Claims by the Government for Unemployment rates of almost half this
Centrelink (unofficial) rate are not comparative or substantiated when
the amount of funding provided to the unemployed and the workload
experienced by Centrelink employees is taken into account.

There have been, not exactly mass resignations but a substantial number
of resignations due to the inaccurate Government figures relating to
unemployment.  This should be verifiable if you can talk some call
centre employees working for Centrelink.

It would be wonderful if you could somehow investigate the “massive”
discrepancy between the “social security service” and the Government
elects figures for unemployment.

Especially considering an election is in the pipeline.


Media nepotism in the newsroom

Reading your mind-bendingly long list of families in the Australian
media reminded me of an experience I had in my early days as a News Ltd
copyboy in Sydney about a decade ago.

I’d just dropped off a page of Bill Watts’s finest for the Daily
Telegraph-Mirror’s fourth edition and was heading back upstairs when
Darcy, one of the more extroverted compositors on the old third floor,
stepped in my path.

“What does your father do?” he roared, coating me in beer fumes.

Not catching the gist of his question, I started explaining that my dad
was (and is) a health and building inspector in local government when
he stopped me with a slapped palm to the chest: “You mean he doesn’t
work here?”

“Uh, no,” I replied.

“Argh, good on ya son!” he laughed, applying a second coat, and let me pass.

I’m now in London working for the (ooh-aah) Daily Star and, while the
journo recruitment procedures are just as informal and HR
department-free – thank god! – over here as they are at home, there
isn’t nearly the same level of nepotism as I remember at Holt St.

It’d be interesting to see an online debate about the pros and cons of
“keeping it in the family” in the Australian media … it would be an
appropriate subject for the first forum on murdochwatch.com!


Wade O’Leary

CRIKEY: Click here to read more about Australia’s many media dynasties 

Are there really 230 journo couples?

Your article on 230 journo couples suggests at least 460 journo’s in Oz,
which suggests that there are at least 460 individually generated news
stories each day, plus those that the singles/non incestious journos (who
couple outside their profession) produce.

I and your other readers can assure you that there are not 460 stories in
the press each day, perhaps there are 50, which the others rehash into
newsworthies for their varous rags/pulp/etc.  This suggests a rampant
oversupply of media professionals in Oz, especially if you add the MP media
minders (one per MP federally and in each state and territory plus extras
for the PM, premiers and opposition leaders) and other generally
unemployable journo types.  Perhaps we should be discouraging our kids from
studying journalism as there is a glut and you have to be married to someone
to get a decent job in the profession (or sell your soul for a policitcal

An economic argument to keep the trees in Tassie

I’m probably partial to the idea of keeping the old-growth forest in Tasmania, and elsewhere in

Australia, pretty much untouched.  There is surely an economic argument that tourism based around

these sites could be worth more long term than the price they get for wood chips.

To throw a completely different spin on the issue, I could almost forgive them chopping down the lot

if the wood was used to make something substantial.  So often in Australia we export the raw

material and usually import the finished product at multiples of the price we paid for it.  Couldn’t

this wood be put to some productive use so that it lives on in houses, furnishings, craft.  You

know, something value added.  Of course there wouldn’t be sufficient use for all the wood, we may

have to leave some trees in the ground, but hey, we could cut them down later, or our kids could.

I find it hard to believe that people seem to thin it is a good idea to cut down a thing of such

grandeur and make woodchips out of it. Isn’t it absurd?

I haven’t been to Tasmania but I have spent time in south west Western Australia.  Those Karri trees

are grand when left in the ground, but my they make beautiful wood for furnishings and related

crafty things when they cut down.  I bought a bread board (yes, I acknowledge my ungreen

credentials) of such beauty and paid probably 100 times what the wood was worth as wood-chips (an

outrageous guess I know, but you get the drift).  It’s not like it was turned into a work of art,

it was just a bread board.   There were chests and tables and other assorted wood work that I also

admired greatly.

Apart from the great waste of something of rare beauty, isn’t it an economic crime to be selling it

for woodchip?  One of your knowledgeable readers must have some insight to the problem.

Just don’t tell me that it would take too long to cut all the trees down if we used them for

value-added industries.


CRIKEY: Read the full Tassie tree debate here: Barns, Carnell and Flanagan on forests

Ex-pollies ignore any annoying facts on Tassie logging

It is appropriate that two ex-pollies, Kate Carnell and Greg Barnes, open the spin attack on Richard Flanagan.

Not everyone would have the brass to ignore all the central statistics
of Tasmanian logging: no mention of woodchip production nearly two and
a half times greater than that of all the rest of Australia at a
proportional logging rate 50-60 times faster. Not a whisper of 80% of
the blitzed forest being burned on the spot, or of having the fastest
proportional rate of native forest loss in the OECD.

Nothing about the chemical warfare against plants and animals conducted
with two nasty substances, Atrazine and 1080, banned or severely
restricted nearly everywhere else in the developed world. Ditto for the
fact that Tasmanian taxpayers are out of pocket this mauling of their

Meanwhile, Forestry Tasmania’s main customer, Gunns, is in pig heaven,
with a return on equity that was two years ago 35% compared to FT’s
0.7%, and richly oiled by a dirt cheap resource, tax incentives and
exemptions, subsidies, self-regulation, and legal immunity from almost

It appears you can take Kate and Greg out of politics, but you can’t take out of them that old habit of selling us out.

John Hayward

Weegena, TAS

Logging vs Israel: How low can Barns go?

Have we so completely lost perspective that you give column space to
media monkeys like Greg Barns, a man ludicrous enough to compare the
deaths of thousands of people in the Middle East to an environmental
debate over old growth forests?  Barns is capable of sinking to
remarkable depths to get his name in the papers, but this is a new low.
Perhaps if he spent a few weeks in Gaza he’d learn the difference.

Nick Shimmin

Camperdown, NSW

PM lost for words with out spindoctors

What’s the betting that in the run-up to the Federal Election later
this year there will be no televised Great Debate between the main
protagonists. After his cringe-worthy performance in the ABC Radio
Cricket Commentary box at the S.C.G. this week, the PM will NOT be keen
to go head to head with the challenger.

Poor Harsha Bhogle and Peter Roebuck strove manfully, but in vain, to
draw something insightful out of this so -called “Cricket Tragic”. Try
as they might to wind up the Clockwork Lemon, all they got was a series
of deadly, dull and tired old platitudes from a deadly dull and tired
old man, uncertain, nervous and wary that he might expose his shallow
grasp of the game he purports, Ming-like, to love.

Without his army of spindoctors and wordmeisters, the only thing of
interest the poor old bugger could blurt out was a clue as to the date
of the aforementioned election. Latham, on the other hand stole from
the PM’s Little Election Primer and was alert but not alarmed, totally
relaxed and comfortable and an interviewer’s dream .All that was
missing was the white picket fence!  Insightful, articulate and
pleasantly funny he batted through his innings in effortless style….
reminiscent of that other Mark. Bring on the election. Bring on the
Great Debate!


On the cricket commentary

Why don’t Channel 9 just bite the bullet and get Eddie Everywhere to call the cricket?


“Notacricket Tragic”

Who can forget Howard’s bad behaviour?

David Stanford’s adoring piece on Howard was pathetic. Howard is a
boring man and most Australians cringe when they see him at his
jingoistic photo shoots with Australian servicemen and women doing
George W Bush’s bidding.

Who will ever forget Howard’s despicable behaviour during the
referendum campaign on the Constitution. His behaviour over the
children overboard saga? His silence when Pauline let her cannons
loose? His backing up in the House of the outrageous Heffernan
allegations about Justice Kirby? His

prevarication about our role in the war in Iraq..and then Bush blew his
cover? His rorting of the system by living in Kirribilli House? His
pigeon holing of the role of the Governor General? His inhumane
treatment of children in detention centres? The list is endless.

Mark Latham has got up the nostrils of that conga line of suckholes –
which means they must be scared of him. That’s the best news out of
Canberra for a long time.

Barry Everingham

Lazy Aussies take a break

“Australians are arguably the most leisure-focused people in the world.
With four weeks annual leave and about 12 additional national public
holidays, the Aussie worker works less than most.”

Nice of you to revert to that old cliche about the bludging Aussie.
While it’s understandable coming from yourself, since self-employed and
small business owners generally put in enormous hours, it’s obvious you
haven’t been keeping up with trends. Otherwise you’d note a general
push by employers for unpaid overtime. The implication being that if
you don’t do it, you’re not a loyal worker, you’re letting your team
down, and, hell, why do we bother employing you?

So yes, while 4 weeks annual leave and public holidays are provided,
how often are these actually being used in full, and how many hours are
people now averaging per week?


Australia, Animal Farm and sheep exports

While I won’t argue the case for and against live sheep exports the
actions of animal “liberationists” in Portland Vic recently, in
tainting sheep feed with pork, has lead to legal action against these
vegians. The use of pork, which is offensive to Muslims, also raises
the question have the liberationist caused offence to or vilification
of the Muslim religion – there are 300,000 Muslims in Australia. In
March 2003, State MP for Caulfield Helen Shardey, then Liberal State
President Ian Carson and Albert Park Liberal Branch President Lee
Purvis were most vocal in letter published in the Australian Jewish
News (AJN) critizing me for comparing Israeli PM Sharon to Mugabe and
Milosevic over Sharons appalling treatment of the Palestinians. I have
not heard a peep from them over the religious aspects related to live
sheep issue over Xmas but perhaps Shardey may visiting Israel’s “Dear
Leader” to pay her respects? Equal Opportunities Commissioner Msssss Di
Sisley has also been quiet on this issue too however she was very vocal
with me on ABC radio 3LO (Virginia Trioli) last March. It would appear
“All religions are equal but some are more equal than others” With
apologies to George Orwell – “Animal Farm.”

Adrian Jackson, Progressive Liberalism Organisation

Middle Park, VIC

Sydney and those fireworks

The 9pm and midnight New Year’s fireworks are paid for by Sydney City Council.

The State Government pays for extra policing special lighting along the
waterfront, and a few other things but not the actual fireworks
themselves, which run into several million dollars.

The Feds pay nothing except the cost of a faxed press release from Joe Hockey claiming it was all a great success.

Personally I love the fireworks. I think they showcase Sydney, show the
world a good image and give tens of thousands of families a harmless
fun evening. Paul Partypooper would perhaps prefer we all went home at
7.30 pm to read “Fightback!” by the light of a single candle, but for
the rest of us, the fireworks are great.


Peter Fray

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