From a couch somewhere in the office of Prime Minister & Cabinet. During PM Rudd’s recent trip to UK one of his staffers suffered a serious deep vein thrombosis, requiring urgent medical intervention and repatriation. This occurred because the individual had been so overworked by the PM prior to boarding the flight that the entire trip was spent virtually motionless catching up on sleep — hence the DVT. No wonder the troops aren’t happy campers.

Rumours are circling that Troy “Snedger” Buswell can smell an early WA election.

I work for an electrical retailer and know that May figures are more than 4% down on last year’s… Retail has hit a wall no doubt.

Optus are also taking staff via chartered buses from North Sydney to their new HQ until the rail goes in — they charter buses from Ryde while the public runs are cancelled.

Channel Seven’s new comedy/drama Packed to the Rafters has the highest marketing and publicity budget for any Channel Seven show for the year.

The latest BRW, May 29 – July 2, 2008 “Rich 200 issue” page 71, second column, paragraph 6. “For the record, $1000 invested into Frank Lowy’s Westfield businesses when they first floated would today be worth $200 million” Could this be true? Or do we have a massive typo? In 1960 the listing was at 5 shillings. Current share price, ASX (Friday 30) WDC, $17.06. Given other typos in the issue, e.g. page 47 relating to James Packer – quoting Millions instead of Billions. Is the data regarding Westfield reliable?

Interesting to look at Lindsay Tanner’s book on work/life balance (Crowded Lives, Sydney, Pluto Press, 2003) in relation to the current public service workload debate.

The Coles restructure at the hand of new owner Wesfarmers seems to have run out of steam. Despite the very public statements made six months ago about reducing head office numbers and cost at the big retailer, the total head office numbers have increased. Insiders claim the Wesfarmers team that was put in place to manage the takeover have made almost no impact with all the work to split the company back into its separate businesses having been done by Coles staff. Most managers aren’t even sure who the Wesfarmers team were or where they have been located — sort of a secret squirrel team of young analysts busily writing reports back to Perth, although nobody seems to know what they could be writing about, given their lack of involvement with the businesses. One lasting impression that has been made is that the Wesfarmers team seemed to be quite overwhelmed with the scale of the Coles Group and had no plans at all on what to do to turn it around.

London City gossip has Virgin Atlantic, UK carrier BMI and Lufthansa, which owns 49% of BMI in talks over a merger-come-takeover for both British carriers. Where Branson sits on this is unclear, if it is in fact true at the outset. But Singapore Airlines is determined to be rid of its half share in Virgin Atlantic and would have to be deeply involved in any sort out, which will have incalculable consequences down the Virgin food chain, including Virgin Blue and Virgin America.

What really goes on in a closed inquiry at Racing Victoria Limited: “I have been fortunate enough to have stumbled across a copy of a transcript from the inquiry into the withdrawal of Incinerator from a race at Sandown on 30 June 2007 … Cue the Benny Hill music…” Courtesy of The Mailman.

Bank Fees! In the last week and a half I have had $160 in fees taken from my NAB account which is ridiculous for a general account with an average of $500 in there. Both of my flatmates’ automatic rent payments went into my account (supposedly) as usual and knowing that there was $1,000 in my account I continued along my week buying bus fares etc. During the week I checked the balance to find I was minus $264 including $60 worth of bank fees — how could I possibly be in debt that much — insufficient funds usually means no money. So I call the bank and my account has magically gone into overdraft, as opposed to just declining a transaction (convenient since it equates to an extra $60 to publish for the shareholders this year). Both flatmates (different banks) advise that the rents are back in their accounts (very reliable people so not a non-payment issue). I’ve had this before and my NAB account manager actually investigated it but came up with no answer as to why no credits could be made to my account for a few days. Anyway, I call NAB and they agree to credit the $60 back to my account “in good faith” and make a big deal about how they don’t actually have to do it… no mention of my 30 mins of personal time wasted. In the three days since this has happened and the other lot of rent has shown up, I’ve been charged another $100 in fees of which they will graciously refund $30. So basically, because my account randomly denied funds (again, last time it was my wage!) it’s cost me $70 and over an hour of time trying to sort it out, not to mention the awful feeling that the people who HOLD my money for me can take from it what they will and I’m just to be thankful if they agree to give anything back!

China is conducting systematic non entry processes to rid all expat Filipinos and Africans. There are reports that 5,000 of the 10,000 Africans living in Guangzhou have departed in the last month (probably explains the chaos at airport departures trying to get through X-ray machine area). They have also listed 24 Muslim countries as other targets of non-entry to China. Guangzhou City is operating as a semi police state with raids on nightclubs. Wonder what’s happening to disenfranchised locals?

Peter Fray

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