Overheard at Fairfax. A couple of the political reporters talking about the ACNielsen Poll that will be published tomorrow on the election. They were saying that Rudd would be very happy with the outcome, and the Labor primary vote has gone up!

A colleague had a day trip from Sydney to Melbourne on Monday. His 0730 Qantas flight out of Sydney was delayed because of a problem with an escape slide. After waiting an hour, they were transferred to another aircraft, which was again delayed whilst two tyres were changed. This took place whilst the passengers were on board. The first pair of tyres the maintenance crew brought over were the wrong ones for the plane, and so there was a further delay whilst the correct ones were located and then fitted. His 0900 arrival in Melbourne eventually became 1200. On the return flight, his aircraft was mechanically fine but the flight was again delayed whilst passengers and luggage from another failed aircraft were transferred onboard.

Richard Farmer claims that Howard fell for Grimshaw’s trap — and Rudd didn’t. But if you watch the clip again you will notice Rudd referring to Howard not liking the “worm”. How did he know Howard did not like the worm? It was not prerecorded as Grimshaw claimed. This means Rudd watched the Howard interview and picked up the answers to Grimshaw’s “trap”.

Following on its devastating loss in the Trent Smith case in the IRC, DFAT is nevertheless continuing to reward those who loyally toiled in the front line in this case. Matthew Hyndes, whose evidence attracted venomous criticism from the Commissioner, had his term as Deputy High Commissioner in Sri Lanka extended. And DFAT Legal Adviser Katrina Cooper is to become our Ambassador to Mexico.

I refer to the article in yesterday’s edition about Air Traffic Control. You may hear that sick-leave is trending up; this is probably equally proportional to the increases in overtime being worked, the plummeting morale, the never ending corporate restructure and the threats to move the workforce onto AWAs; being cognisant that the supervisors were effectively forced onto them earlier this year with a “Godfather Offer” (an individual AWA, a collective AWA which is worse than the individual offer, or a reduction in classification). I was one of the successful candidates for the above positions. I was given the choice of signing an AWA, which gave me a base pay “rise” of about $15K. However in return I would lose or significantly reduce my sick leave, annual leave, job security, redundancy, and there would be no overtime payments, even though extra hours are expected. Taking into account all these things, it would actually be a pay drop in real terms of about $5K a year. The collective bargaining agreement was less pay ($15K) and identical conditions. When I rang the WorkChoices hotline, their response was that if I was coming into the company with that offer, it would be deemed coercion, and therefore illegal. However, because I am being offered a promotion, I can always say no and stay on my current conditions. That apparently is all above board! So I now have a choice, being deemed the best person for the job, I can either sell my soul to the company, or let someone else, not as suitable as me, willing to sign the AWA, take the position. This is how they treat their prospective managers, so you can imagine how concerned line controllers are, and why morale is at an all time low.

Jetstar to the US? Just read on my Jetstar itinerary under the terms and conditions: “Despite the above, each passenger travelling on a JetSaver, JetFlex or International StarClass fare to or from the United States may check in up to 2 pieces of Baggage for carriage in the aircraft hold at no additional charge. No single item may exceed 32kg in weight. The maximum total combined dimension of the two pieces is 270cm (106 inches), with no single item exceeding 158cm (62 inches).” Passengers travelling to or from Australia, the United States, Japan, New Zealand or Vietnam: please see Jetstar.com/baggage for important information regarding cabin baggage restrictions.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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