Brian Burke, former WA Premier and leading lobbyist was seen last night dining in a Launceston restaurant with John Gay, Exec Chairman of Gunns Ltd. A comfortable fit with the existing Gunns’ Board!

An illustration of the vanity of John Howard and his urge for self glorification is the fact that, unlike his Labor predecessors, all Cabinet Documents (Submissions and Decisions) during his reign have been prefixed with a “JH”. I am not aware whether any Government prior to Howard’s did this.

Election day 1: Election will be Nov 3 or Nov 24. Advertisements have been paid for until end of October .

Election day 2: Expect an election to be called next weekend, 22-23 September. Here’s why. My wife works in a federal government department that has been asked for a number of electorate briefs, mainly for marginal seats (e.g Parramatta, Lindsay). Nothing unusual there. The interesting part is that they’re all due at 12:00 noon on Friday, 21 September. When an election is called, caretaker mode means whatever the government gets, the opposition is also entitled to. Is 27 October the election date then? The way Howard’s looking currently, those CPI figures in the week leading to it up are the least of his worries.

Over two years since the Palmer, Comrie and Commonwealth Ombudsman reports into the Department of Immigration, what has changed? There is no single search portal of Immigration database systems, training for offshore staff is non-existent although there is now a dedicated training branch with an SES, eleven EL2s, 26 EL1s, and staffing of ninety, NPP funding to establish a College ($50M over 4 years). There are well over 200 SES in a department of 6500 (7500 with contractors). The only ones doing well are the consultants, contractors, recruitment agencies … oh yes, and IBM who have 16 consultants attracting up to $3000 a day each. There should be another Parliamentary inquiry into this Department and their spending.

Department of Immigration: National Training Manager announces his departure not even two years into the role. Given Training has the highest priority and 60% of the divisional budget, clearly another sign that the department’s in trouble.

Why has everyone forgotten that John Howard said he would retire “when they get Saddam Hussein”. Was that just another Core Promise?

The ratio of Nurses to Personal Care Attendants in Aged Care facilities is not regulated by either the State or Federal Government! The pay of a PCA is less than the hourly rate of an office or domestic cleaner!

Richard Farmer missed two big ticket items, the very recent $6 million grant to build the Edwin Land Parkway through the middle of Gary Nairns own suburb and the $5 million last year for the Monaro Hwy – Tharwa/Lanyon Drive intersection (Roads to Recovery) this intersection will give him and Jerrabomberra (the suburb he lives in) better access to the ACT (where he spends most of his work days). That takes it to at least $24.5 million since the May budget. Watch out for more very shortly!

Re. Jetstar. I think it was Autumn last year that my brother-in-law flew from Brisbane to Avalon, and the pilot made 3 attempts to land in the fog, one of which was a “straight nose dive down”. BIL said he looked out the window and could see the cars in the carpark, which he thought they were going to land on top of. Very scary. My partner was waiting to pick him up, and could “hear” all these attempts. Anyway, they were running out of fuel, so had to go to Tulla to re-fuel, and everyone aboard wanted to get off there, as they’d had enough. They did let passengers with no “booked in luggage” off. My BIL wasn’t one of them, and as it turned out, he totally missed the funeral that he’d come down for.

Re. Joe Hockey’s brochure to voters in his North Sydney electorate: Joe modestly features in all but one of the dozen photos in the brochure we received, and the accompanying prose is modestly about Joe and his diverse activities in North Sydney. John Howard’s leadership team, of which Joe is supposedly a key member, is not featured. Are we witnessing the early stirrings of a “Joe for PM” campaign?!

Peter Fray

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