You might want to confirm whether equine influenza is actually in Victoria. Apparently there is a property under quarantine in Ridells Creek, which I think is near Woodend. According to “horse people” that I know, it is being hushed up until after the spring carnival.

Once again the astounding incompetence of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship is on display for all to see. DIAC’s computer system has gone down on the day when applications for the Settlement Grant Program closes. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their new online business system and for what? Or is it just a ploy for the boffins to argue that they need even more money. When is enough enough, will KRudd order a royal commission on this most dysfunctional of government departments or will their gross incompetence be rewarded by more money that they can burn at the technology alter.

Journos like Ray Martin/Laurie Oakes/Steve Lewis etc slag off the Press Club as putting lobbyists/public servants/diplomats before journos. (Oakes in the Bulletin). Anyone going to lunch on any given day at the National Press Club or to drinks on a Thursday or Friday night, would struggle to find a journo! They are never there! The main patrons of the club are lobbyists, public servants, staffers etc. The only time you see them is on the ABC free lunches they attend to ask stupid questions of guest speakers. Apart from that you wouldn’t catch them dead in the place. So it’s the height of hypocrisy for them to cry foul and turn like jackals on the CEO Morris Newman, when none of the sanctimonious prigs actually support the club by visiting it once in a while.

You might find that Brough/Hockey (deputy) ticket for the leadership has some growing support… particularly among the NSW moderates.

My local baker (a small family business that is not part of a franchise) informs me that the price of flour has gone from $750 to $1000 a tonne.

The new women’s magazine on the block, Women’s Health, has apparently sold out its first issue — 100,000 copies is the mooted figure — but at whose expense? Suggestions are that the magazine suffering the most is Cleo, published by ACP, arch rival of Women’s Health publisher Pacific Magazines.

Air Traffic Control Issues: Call me yet-another-grumpy-controller if you wish, but is it any wonder? Common amongst our breed is the incredulity at the lack of interest amongst the mainstream media (Crikey excepted of course) in the chaos in our skies and ATC centres. We all know the FAA in the USA is approaching a real crisis point with their staffing, but the fact that Australian ATC management have not learnt anything from their mistakes – indeed they seem to be imitating it – is very frustrating – and scary. Sick leave is rising – a new trend, and this is indicative of plummeting morale, a result of poor – or as some suggest – non-existent leadership when it is needed most from the senior Canberra ATC management. There was a real suspicion that the most senior management – on close to $1M packages – were being “protected” from their underlings as to the extent of the dire situation that the air traffic system is nearing. But now there is a realisation that this is not the case – that they are in fact 100% informed – and 100% complicit. This is frankly even more frightening – that very senior public servants are willing to “carry” this professional risk. When they fail in these positions, the effect is spectacular – and tragic. What is not a surprise is that CASA are giving the diagonal nod to the situation. They simply have no one of sufficient experience or technical ability to assess the practices being implemented. It has been suggested that during an election campaign, this is the time to get the spotlight shone upon these issues – but the mainstream media is nowhere to be seen. Any wonder that the experienced front line professional air traffic controllers who remain in this job, are either retiring as quickly as they can afford to, looking overseas for a new job (they are in a high demand profession), or joining the growing list of those taking some genuine stressed-out sick leave.

SBS staff against commercial breaks are hoping that complaints about the film from South Korea broadcast on SBS last night will change the decision to interrupt movies with advertisements. The legislation allows for commercials in natural breaks. The film’s title gives away the care taken in the movie to set up what could be seen as natural breaks: “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… Spring”. Because of these natural breaks and the large number of additional commercials jammed in on top with this film it is easy to see that SBS is now jamming in as many commercials as possible per hour. Any complaint taken to ACMA could be a major concern for SBS.