I wish any news source would question John Hartigan’s (from News Ltd) qualifications to lead 2020 summit discussion on governance. The gender issue has been a red herring, why did we all assume the steering committee members were appointed on merit?

Well, the ABC’s done it again and left its cricket studio streaming live over the Internet after its evening of formal cricket commentary concluded. Although this has previously been reported in Crikey in weeks gone by, it seems that nobody in the ABC reads Crikey or, if they do, don’t care that they leave Internet voyeurs able to tune into this behind-the-scenes stuff, including commentators talking openly about tickets for the next ODI final being extremely poor.

Coles 500 jobs to go. Although this didn’t happen two weeks ago as rumoured on Melbourne radio, it will definitely happen in the next few months. Plans are already in place to get rid of 500 jobs in Head Office in the Coles Supermarkets business. What isn’t being implemented just yet is the 75% reduction in the top 200 highly paid managers. The 500 jobs are more likely to be in the lowest paid roles in the salary ranks – jobs in the $60,000 to $90,000 bracket. Apart from a dozen or so senior execs who left immediately after the takeover, Wesfarmers seem to have become a bit awestruck at the size of their new asset. As a result, WES are holding off on removing the fat General Manager ranks even though they know they are grossly overpaid. Most spend their time in endless meetings that produce no outcome. Trouble is WES know so little about the Supermarkets trade, they are holding off until new boy Ian MacLeod arrives from the UK in May. This is due to the recommendations of Archie Norman, who does a lot of tough talking but is also a bit wary of doing anything radical for the time being. Let’s hope something starts to happen soon as many in the middle management ranks are starting to look outside for new jobs rather than wait to see if the new broom just sweeps the same way as the old broom and the same GMs remain in place.

Would be interesting to know more about why the government appointed administrator Dick Persson in Dee Why is so hell-bent on pushing through a change to the LEP from 6 to 20 storeys that will allow high rise buildings up to 85 metres being built in the beachside suburb. What are his motives? What is his connection with Multiplex (part of the development joint venture) etc.

New Woman mag – gone the way of the Bully by the end of the fortnight ….

On the advertising page when I go to NAB internet banking just before I log in… “The ASX is easy as ABC” I kid you not! Here’s the link:

Have you had a good look at what’s going on behind the scenes in “ALP pre-selection land” in Western Australia? Good local candidates are getting shafted left, right and centre (excuse the factional pun) by the Premiers so-called “wet-dream team”!! Apparently Alan Carpenter thinks you’d make a great member of Parliament for the ALP if you meet the following criteria; 1. You’re not a member of the ALP, 2. You’re a lobbyist or a lawyer, 3. You have no connection with the community you wish to represent. Please note: Members of the ALP who are already active in their communities need not apply. The Premier and his 2IC, Mark McGowan, are busy trying to parachute their very own faction into parliament! I thought that the WA state government were trying to distance themselves from lobbyist.

ABC Learning Centres’ goodwill calculations are based on each centre’s expected goodwill value after 10 years of operations with multiples calculated on an expected sale to private equity investment. Therefore, you can have a new centre that has no recorded turnover, yet goodwill will be calculated on what ABC expects the net result to be in 10 years time. How this was never forced to disclosure by lenders beggers belief.

The WA Government is holding a big “WA on Show” expo this week. Was funny to see the West Australian was represented there — handing out lollipops marking 175 years of the paper. No doubt Health Minister Jim McGinty would agree with the gimmick — he and the rest of WA already think the West sucks!

St. George Board Member quits or was he pushed? Jim Grant, the long time St.George Leagues Club and Football Board member is no longer a member of the St. George Board. He was up for re-election on March 24 against R2K (Return to Kogarah) — a group that is gaining increased credibility in the St. George District due to its unwavering loyalty to OKI Jubilee Stadium and its innovative policies for the St. George Leagues Club. In desperation the Club has already replaced Grant on the Board with a more progressive Club member — a former Club sponsor. That replacement is now up for re-election on March 24 against the R2K candidates. The news comes in the wake of the rumours that the Dragons are likely to abandon Illawarra by 2011 and become the St. George Dragons once more. Such a move would win over countless fans, restore the St. George history and reverse the Super League legacy once and for all. St. George is desperate not to follow Canterbury and have a change of Board.

I have been told that some Victorian state school principals get a percentage bonus if they can make staff savings within the school. For example, if a teacher goes on long service leave, and instead of being replaced by another teacher, they are replaced by the teachers within the school (as extras or in-lieus, which cost the school nothing), then the principal gets a percentage of the money that would have gone to hiring the teacher. My current principal apparently got a five figure bonus last year from this. It may just be Victorian Education Dept policy, or it may be a school based one, I’m not too sure. Speaking as one of the poor (and regularly striking) underpaid teachers, I think it stinks to high heaven. That the school administration makes these decisions, that are based on personal profit, not educational lines, is wrong. Also, that this is hidden from most staff is even worse. Incidentally, the feeling among many Victorian state teachers is either: a) We should be taking more comprehensive action (like the nurses last year) to achieve our goals, ie. full day strikes, but we are too bound by the old workchoices legislation. b) We should be withdrawing our support and involvement in the extra-curricular activities we do. The only way the parents can see how under pressure we are. I could go on forever about this sort of stuff.

Thought I’d inform you of a superannuation “innovation” that is sure to quickly spread. BT Superannuation have thoughtfully decided that all its members are under insured when it comes to life insurance. As such, come April, they will sign all under insured members up for (in general) $250,000 of life insurance unless you call or write them to say you don’t want it. Even 17-year-olds will get some. Of course nothing in life is free and they’ll be deducting their usual insurance fees to cover their thoughtfulness expenses. Despite suggestions that this offering was probably be a great deal (they won’t let you back in if you do opt out), I noted that my current insurance arrangements (which would be superseded by this “offering”) would have a 8% price increase (after adjusting both to have an equal payout figure). In fairness BT have written to all members explaining there “opt out” policy and I’m sure they feel for those that don’t get the letter, throw it out unopened, or open it, glance at it and throw it out as advertising. Can only be a matter of time before other institutions start signing us up for products they decide we need. Maybe BT will decide my circumstances must have changed 6 months down the track and “offer” it to me all over again. Unfortunately the Superannuation Ombudsman has no ability to investigate.

Melissa Sweet says 17% of admissions to hospital associated with adverse events. The majority considered preventable. That would be 51% (of 16.6%) according to the original article or a little under 8.5%. About 46% of the adverse events had minimal impact. When you add to this the known observer bias in retrospective analysis of medical records where there is an adverse outcome (reviewers are retrospectively more critical of management decisions when the outcome is adverse when shown 2 sets of facts that are identical except for the outcomes which are adjusted to be adverse or non-adverse). An overblown study for sure.

Peter Fray

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