The Alexander Downer-Ian Smith “boutique” consultancy is unlikely to find too many open doors in the Labor-dominated corridors of power around the country. Which may be why former Senator and successful Crikey litigant Nick Bolkus is being mentioned as a third member.

Apparently, the Iemma government isn’t too keen on Public Servants attending the Rally tomorrow in opposition to electricity privatisation – Premier’s Circular 2008-06 denies them the right to even have a lunch break of more than an hour tomorrow. This was not the case, however, when the same people wanted to join the “Your Rights at Work” rally. Premier’s Circular 2006-19 when “Options to facilitate the attendance of staff at the meeting include the use of flexible work arrangements, including by granting flex leave in advance and temporary variation to core time requirements and access to leave.”

NSW electricity rally tomorrow : Apparently, more than one person has noticed the discrepancy in NSW government policy. Just found out about this email sent from the DG of Premier’s and Cabinet late on Friday:

Robyn Kruk
22/02/2008 7:23pm

The Department of Premier and Cabinet has received inquiries seeking clarification about Circular ‘C2008-06 Staff Absent to Attend Stop Work at Parliament House on 26 February 2008’. Unions have called on their members in the electricity businesses to stop work on that day to attend the rally with the proviso that there is to be no interruption to the supply of electricity. Further clarification has now been received that this direction to stop work only applies to employees of State Owned Corporations within the electricity industry. The following provisions relate to public sector employees who may seek to attend the rally, but who have not been directed to stop work by their union: Staff should use their own time to attend the rally and should only be granted an absence where there will be no disruption to the provision of services to the public. Options for staff to attend the rally include the use of flexible work arrangements such as granting flex leave in advance and access to leave. If an employee absents themselves from duty without proper approval there will be no ability to make up time later and salary should be deducted from the employee involved.

Robyn Kruk Director General Department Premier and Cabinet

Sol Trujillo, man of the people. With an invite to the SA Suite at the Clipsal 500 on Saturday, rather than dine on the fresh South Australian lunch menu, Sol slipped out to the General Admission area to get a hot dog and chips. When he was stopped from bringing them into the suite, Sol had to eat his fast food outside in the passageway.

 Re. “SBS’s “ad islands” are an inconvenient truth for Senator Conroy” (Friday, item 23). Glenn Dyer is being sold a pup on SBS recent management decisions and the ‘quality’ of Australian programming on the network. Current successes in docs, drama (East West 101) etc are the result of hard work by the previous commissioning team, lead by former SBS Indpendent Head Ned Lander, often against the wished of Shaun Brown and his managers. Lander has now been sent on two years gardening leave, and told not to return to the building– literally. His deputy and much respected documentary commissioner, Trevor Graham will be next to depart as his contract is up soon and will not be renewed. Meanwhile the appointment of Denise Eriksen as head of commissioning and also to monitor the $11 million Australian version of Top Gear is ominous. Denise is a light entertainment specialist, and was recently unloaded by the ABC. Her first act was to tell remaining staff have been told that there performance will be monitored by Ratings, not remit. SBS Independent, the production arm of the network, had been taken into a back room and put down. Scheduling and marketing department now control all decision making on what gets made. If the ads are annoying you now, wait until the programs these people will order start making there way to screen. If SBS is to become just another revenue driven network making ratings driven shows, (with a now second rate news department) then the inevitable and difficult question begs to be answered: Why SBS? Why should we have a publicly funded commercial broadcaster? If you do a search on eBay for “Obama” you get a helpful question asking if you really meant “Osama”…

Peter Fray

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