Alan Stockdale and David Kemp are running around like headless chooks trying to find a candidate to replace Peter Costello. The scenario that has them scared is that the ALP will preselect a “favourite son” of Higgins like Tim Costello or even Hugh Evans, and the Liberals will lose a large chunk of their base in one fell swoop. Barbara Norman was a joke – Tim Costello wouldn’t be, Peter would probably even refuse to campaign against him.

Another Liberal getting ready to jump is Peter Lindsay in Herbert. Already telling constituents that he is powerless to help them. He has virtually given up. Didn’t want to win, told the Courier-Mail during election campaign that he would be happy to lose.

World Youth Day (WYD). The NSW Rural Fire Service has committed to assist the State Government with WYD by providing RFS volunteers to do security work (bag searches). Expressions of interest were called for in January, but the response has been so underwhelming that the RFS Commissioner is now writing to individual RFS volunteers urging them to “be part of the fun”. Likewise, the response of Catholic parishioners to requests to provide “Homestay” beds for visiting pilgrims is also less than expected.

So, not so much volunteers as public servants on full pay..? How will the full cost of World Youth Day to the taxpayer actually ever be calculated? According to Premier’s Circular 2008-07, NSW public servants are to be given up to five days paid “special leave” to volunteer. Yes, that would be the same public servants who weren’t to be allowed more than an hour for lunch last Tuesday in case they protested against the electricity privatisation. I know what I would rather my taxes were spent on.

Exciting times for IT staff in FAHCSIA (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs). It has recently decided to in-source its IT, having out-sourced it in the early part of the decade several years after most public service agencies were forced to by John Fahey’s discredited Office of Asset Sales and IT Outsourcing. A large number of IT jobs have been advertised. Problem is, FAHCSIA is in the middle of a transition from a prehistoric Lotus Notes platform to MS Office, which is not going anywhere near as smoothly or as cheaply as expected. Canberra IT types tempted by the thought of working at Tuggeranong have been warned to stay well away.

Re. Dodgy councils. Mosman council approved an apartment development by a local church way outside of development guidelines that apply to normal developers. Turns out that some of the councillors had very close ties to the church – but not caught by ICAC rules as the councillors didn’t have a direct pecuniary interest.

Senior departures at the Royal Adelaide Hospital after it emerged that the hospital senior administrators had hidden staff shortages in the Intensive Care Unit and refused to listen to pleas to increase staffing at both a registrar (trainee specialist) and consultant intensivist level. Eventually the Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (the august body set up by the College of Anaesthetists and College of Physicians to oversee the training of intensive care specialists in Australia and New Zealand) arrived to do their periodic assessment to see if the RAH ICU met their standards. It didn’t. They issued their standard response: fix it by “X” date or the unit is no longer accredited to provide training in intensive care medicine, and the solution is expensive, employ a whole lot more senior medical staff. Loss of ICU accreditation renders the ICU that supports the states major public hospital, including trauma, burns, spinal injuries and a whole host of other tertiary and quaternary services more or less non-functional. This was of course a tad hard to hide from the DHS and so the minister sent his man down to see the Director of the ICU to ask why things had come to be in such a parlous state and offer him a sword to fall on. Except our Director is a very wise man, he’d kept all the correspondence over a couple of years warning that unless they addressed this situation that this would be the very outcome. Man from the Ministry then left and went and paid others a visit — since then lots of people have been clearing out their desks. Word here in NSW is that our SA counterparts are about to get a very large pay rise to help attract the extra numbers required.

Foxtel deployed a new customer relationship management system last month. Or, should I say, a billing system. Kenan FX was never designed to serve as a CRM, and it shows. Unlike the old Wizard system, Kenan is not always smart enough to know whether a customer is connected by cable or satellite when troubleshooting by phone isn’t enough and a tech needs to be deployed. Customers who have been waiting for weeks just to get through to the call centre (due to the migration taking almost a week, followed by a lot of angry backlogged calls all arriving at the same time) are finding that they have to wait a week or so for a tech, then they need to call Foxtel again, and wait another week or so to get the right tech sent out. There is no overlap in technician training, and front line staff don’t have a priority button to speed up the second booking.

Speaking of Foxtel… My credit card was lost the other week so needed to call various companies to give them my new credit card payment details for monthly payments. I called Foxtel, went through the push one, push two, push three routine and was than advised that there was no one that was able to take my call and was hung up on. This has been going on for a couple of weeks. How am I supposed to arrange payment?

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW