I have just been informed from a VERY reliable source that the National Australia Bank is about to announce branch closures Australia-wide and outsource at least 100 jobs to India. Watch it happen!

The pig industry is in the sh-t, excuse the pun, and we’re considering employing a lobbyist. Any suggestions?

I know from talking with a travel agent I work closely with that Qantas is causing massive disruptions by significantly overbooking international flights. In one case I am aware of a couple – via their agent, who, of course, gets the blame – have had return flights they booked and paid for in June 2007 cancelled. The flight’s full and they can’t fly. They were due to leave Sydney in three days. Qantas staff are reportedly unsympathetic. “Oh well, we’ll waive the cancellation fee” was the response. I was told Qantas has overbooked the flight (I suspect it is a series of flights, not just one) by more than 250 seats! The travel agent is furious and trying to work out how to tell the client, who has booked tours, accommodation, etc – and faces losing deposits. Apparently there are no seats available with any airlines between Australia and South Africa this entire month. When this behaviour goes public Qantas faces a massive PR nightmare. And who have they to blame but themselves?

Qantas engineers have turned down the EBA offer. The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) are scheduled for a hearing with the AIRC on the 4th of April 2008 at 10am, for authorisation for protected industrial action.

The National Health Call Centre Network (a $160 million contract over three years) is due to be awarded over the coming weeks, with a full national launch of Healthdirect Australia by mid-year, and all States and Territories joining within 12 months. Several large companies have submitted a response to the tender. One of the main contenders is a private equity owned company called “Clinical Solutions”. Clinical Solutions are 40% owned by Allco — who since Clinical Solutions have submitted their tender response, have gone into administration. The National Health Call Centre Network Ltd (a company set up by the COAG agreement of all States and the Commonwealth to select and manage a contractor) surely isn’t going to select this tenderer are they?

The Sydney Entertainment Centre is currently (2-5 April) hosting a show called Divine Performing Arts Chinese Spectacular. It purports to be about traditional Chinese culture but is one giant kitsch-fest in open support of Falun Gong. Among other entertainments offered up in the show, ethnic Chinese dress up in Mongolian and other “minority” costumes and perform bastardised versions of their songs and dances. (Imagine whitefellas performing Aboriginal dancing overseas in support of some oddball Christian group and you get the idea). The interesting thing is the number of state and national MPs who have endorsed the show with their names in the program – Malcolm Turnbull, Chris Bowen, Christopher Pyne, Campbell Newman (Lord Mayor of Brisbane) all have big endorsements with photos; others include Alexander Downer, Chirstopher Ellison, Helen Coonan, Andrew Bartlett, Kerry Nettle, Ian Mcfarlane, Alby Schultz, Kay Hull, and Senators Ursula Stephens and Joe Ludwig. The Chinese government represses Falun Gong brutally, even if they don’t do it wearing black outfits with hammers and sickles as portrayed in the show, and the repression is a clear violation of members’ human rights. But the show is wildly propagandistic, and one would think that Malcolm Turnbull at least, with aspirations to be Prime Minister, would think twice before endorsing the one group which the Chinese government views as Public Enemy No. 1 and who are – let’s face it – slightly batty cult nuts to put it kindly. The show has been in Melbourne and travels next to Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide.

In one fell swoop Telstra is about to erase the business profile phone numbers of thousands of 0500 number users in Australia with no compensation or consideration of assistance to refer to a new number. I have had my 0500 number for over 10 years since they first became available and as a publisher have books and other printed material all over the world printed with this number. Crikey! How the big boys get away with it…

For the third day running The Australian’s Business pages column, “Yesterday’s Big Movers”, has listed BHP Billiton as falling $2.99 on profit dip. This is totally wrong as for each of the past three days BHP has risen and yesterday rose $1.34. Someone needs a kick!