Inside tip from staff at the ANZ is that Big Mike has said “NO” to funding the pulp mill.

Another possible buyer for the Toll Holdings controlling stake in Virgin Blue has sprung into view. Lufthansa stunned the US industry overnight by saying it will buy 19% of JetBlue for $US300 million. JetBlue bears some resemblance to Virgin Blue being single cabin, hip, and definitely not another Jetstar or Ryanair. The big difference however is that Virgin Blue makes even more money than Qantas in the margins metrics on domestic routes, while JetBlue has gone through an episode of dismal management and barely breaks even.

Canberra’s largest auction house has several late model luxury vehicles about to go under the hammer, no longer required by outgoing Liberal staffers. The word amongst local car dealers is incoming Labor staffers simply won’t be taking on a vehicle previously driven a Liberal. Seems it is much better to trade these contaminated units for a new one. One can only wonder how this all fits the Rudd promise to cut billions of dollars of “government waste”.

If Peter McGauran does leave politics, there may well be an internal civil war among Gippsland National Party members. Many Gippsland members are not enamoured with the Peter Ryan style of wanting to control local government, statutory boards of Management and local hospital administrations, let alone his personal vendettas against good local people. Many would not at all like to see his influence increase. Transition to a post McGauran period will be bloody.

The TWU & Qantas are off to a fab start, with the union appearing bipartisan to its existing members’ concerns over wage pressures for EBA negotiations due to expire in June 2008. However, behind the sheer broadway style production of stoppages and walk offs, the union has again caved in to the roos ever present allure of increasing its membership base, via the floodgates of contractors on Group B wages.. The act or deed in permitting the introduction of Group B employees, will ensure new employees to the Qantas Salt Mines, will be paid at rates below their fellow workers, with less generous conditions and provisions. How else do you increase what was a meager $1Bn profit, dont even start with executive remneratiuon!! It may well be naive move, many rank and file members have vowed that if the TWU endorse such a practice, that will essentially undermine their already meagre wages, they will seek alternatives, not limited to resignation from what is about $375 in annual fees…

The Sunday Mail in Queensland ran a story recently about a “Supermum”, a mother of nine with a tenth baby on the way. She was from a family of ten children also so it made a good colour story. ACA followed up that week by spending a couple of days with the family from their waking hours until bedtime at night. They asked them for an exclusive deal to which they agreed (they knew nothing about the media so it seemed fair) and promised no money but said that ACA would be happy to cover a grocery bill for them, about $400-$500. They also promised to give them a copy of the story on DVD. After taking up a few days of their time they told Pamela that ACA now couldn’t cover the grocery bill but would be happy to put $20 of fuel in their car. And as you can guess, no DVD either. Pamela, her husband and children stretch each dollar while she completes an education degree. Money is tight but plenty of part-time jobs for Pamela and the children keep them afloat. She was REALLY looking forward to the groceries being covered and was pretty disappointed when that promise was withdrawn AFTER filming was completed. The story went to air a couple of days later. Maybe ACA might fix up what they really do owe Pamela and her family!

Peter Fray

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