Brendan Nelson might be on a listening tour, but he apparently isn’t hearing. His office has apparently directed Coalition members and senators to publicly object to the closure of the CDMA network. Yet privately more than one backbencher, including ones who have done as they were told, confess they have received no complaints.

Is Paul Keating’s speechwriter Don Watson about to sign-up as a speechwriter to Kevin Rudd? That’s the rumour in Melbourne this weekend, after the many critical articles about the quality of the PM’s written speeches abroad, especially the Brookings and Progressive Governance speeches. Several notable writers have contacted Rudd’s office to offer their much-needed services, but only one writer is being asked: Don Watson. The answer: almost certainly not interested.

The article in Friday’s Crikey, peddling the notion that Iemma is about to get rolled on the electricity privatisation is naively off the mark. Truth is, the legislation has already been drafted and will be rushed through the Parliament in the next week or two before the ALP Conference. Watch the TWU’s Tony Sheldon (already under fire for his use of secret “Industrial Rights Training and Education Fund” monies for support of political candidates) and the Health Services Union. Both the TWU and HSU are going to be used by Iemma to provide an air of respectability with the privatisation. Sheldon, who sits on the ALP’s Administrative and Disputes Committee, is busily calling in favours around Sussex Street – anxious to ingratiate himself with the Party. Why is this? Because Sheldon knows there is much to investigate about the TWU’s misuse of both Government grants and the slush fund monies he and his union have bullied off employers over the last ten years. Why is no one in the media investigating the serious allegations raised on Channel Nine about employers being extorted for money by the TWU? Why are papers like the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, and even TV networks like Nine News ignoring the significance of major corruption allegations against a major Union? It is incredible that TWU officials have admitted their knowledge of industrial extortion by their Union but the Premier has the gall to claim there’s nothing in it. Why does anyone buy the lame excuses put by Iemma before the Parliament this week that the matter has been investigated by the Industrial Registrar. It hasn’t been investigated at all. Why have NSW Police not investigated?

The last Qantas flight from Karratha to Perth on Friday evening returned to the terminal after taxiing out with a fault on a cargo door. The pilot was unable to repair the fault leaving 132 passengers with nowhere to go and nowhere to stay overnight. The majority of the passengers had to sleep on the floor in the airport using whatever was available, which was not much (Pillows from lost luggage). The Qantas crew got first dibs on the few hotel rooms that were available. An engineer was flown up on the first scheduled flight from Perth. It’s obvious that Qantas were completely unprepared for this event, despite the fact that they know that Karratha is packed full all the time and hotel accommodation is very hard to come by. Why is is that Qantas have 40 flights a week between Perth and Karratha all of which are always full in at least one direction, most travellers are paying more than $1200 for a return airfare, but Qantas don’t keep an engineer on duty in Karratha? Why, knowing they don’t have an engineer in Karratha and accommodation is impossible to find, didn’t Qantas at least have some minimal bedding ready for such an emergency? Qantas are milking the Perth – Karratha route for all it’s worth, with no competition and charging maximum airfares, but quite happy to treat a plane full of Gold FF passengers with complete contempt.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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