Electoral office employees have had their pay cut. Electoral polling assistants at all the booths around the nation have been dudded by about $50 dollars. The rate in NSW for a full day’s work and more – sometimes from 7.30am till way after 10pm – was previously the princely sum of $350 for the entire day. This time around their pay has been cut to about $290. Retired people, the unemployed and the young usually do this work and they can least afford the pay cut. Inflation up, interest rates up, executive pay up, election workers poorer. How fair is that!

Talk down at the Swamp (The West’s HQ) is that the Editor is once again sitting on some polling data. The Federal Westpoll has yet to be published despite having been with him for over a week now. Readers might recall that the editor has previously forgotten to publish Westpoll results that showed the ALP doing well. Journo’s believe the failure to publish the Westpoll means the Editor doesn’t like the results – could be bad news for the Liberals in WA.

Someone looking a lot like a certain head of News Ltd with a largish entourage (male) enjoyed a very long dinner (or perhaps it was an extended lunch?) last night night in the private dining room at Est in Sydney – wonder what the topic of conversation was?

A prominent Australian vice chancellor is sporting a brand new gadget these days, an imported and hacked Apple iPhone. It seems illegal software really is an accepted practice in Australian universities.

Will Australia Post turn from red to green if Labor wins? Two big environment groups and the postal union have been in the ear of at least five Federal ALP frontbenchers likely to be Ministers. The argument goes that the last vestige public ownership is running the biggest truck fleet in the country on dirty fuel, running hundreds of post offices and mega sorting centres like electricity guzzlers, and is pushing advertisers to chew paper by sending more direct mail. The signs are that Kev’s Ministers will tell the Post Office to “end the blame game” and green-up its act, or face legislation to make it happen.

Further indication that the Australian High Commission in London is having problems with its mail-out of postal vote forms – an Australian colleague visiting Cambridge in the UK and enrolled in the seat of Denison, Tasmania, today received her postal voting forms from the High Commission: happily the House of Representatives form was for Denison. Unhappily, the Senate voting form was for the Northern Territory!

My partner is in India and went to the consulate in Chennai (Madras) to vote this week. The only how to vote cards available were a 10 page or so Liberal document that included the Senate. It was by itself on a table in reception.

Google are currently doing street-level mapping in major cities for Google Maps. A black beetle with roof-mounted cameras was spotted in Brisbane and a similar vehicle was spotted in Adelaide…

Re. “The Qantas versus Dubai contest is the one to watch” (yesterday, item 32) by Ben Sandilands. You can also add Australian Air Traffic Controllers to those being “mined” by the Middle East. Bahrain and especially Dubai ATC, who have recently increased their salary packages by 80% in one hit, are now very attractive options for Aussie ATC’s who are overstretched by a government employer who are in denial about the immediate crisis all around them. European ATC agencies are matching as best they can payrise-for-payrise with their competitors to secure hard to find experienced folk – market forces at work it seems. Except in Australia, and the US it seems, where the reaction is to treat their professionals with threats of legal action, increase their hours and demand they work excessive overtime, and deny reasonable annual pay increases. The incompetence of Airservices Australia is becoming the final straw for many. Some of those new direct to Dubai flights are going to be very convenient as our Air Traffic Controllers board them for a one way trip.

Labor spooked in Lindsay. The local ALP has really only started campaigning in Lindsay from yesterday! They had a few people out “in force”, and by my reckoning it’s the most amount of activity seen from the David Bradbury camp ever since the election was called. Conversely, Karen Chijoff and her team have been hard at it from day 1. Her utes and trailors are everywhere. Bizarre sight today: A blue and white ex-NSW State transit bus pulled out in from of me in Jamison Road Penrith. It was emblazoned with Kevin Rudd and Maxine McKew, complete with “Maxine McKew for Bennelong”! My only thought it was a panic-stricken ALP putting in a counter measure (of weird sorts) against Karen Chijoff’s new professional-looking advertising mobile billboard. But Maxine McKew in Lindsay…? Perhaps the Chaser boys should be informed!

Not a good look…  

Peter Fray

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