There is a lot of tension between the AFP Commissioner Keelty and the Deputy Commisioner and the editors of The Australian regarding the child p-rn bust coverage.

There’s currently an ABC tender out for refurbishment of part of their Ultimo HQ building. As well as quoting a price for the job, anyone who’s interested in it needs to fill out a three-page questionaire that includes questions such as “Are there any financial risks to the Australian economy that may impact supply or costs of the goods/services?” and “Are there any potential trade or political factors, in Australia or overseas that may impact supply of the goods/services?”. Do they really think anyone in the building trade can predict the politcal future like that?

CASA currently has two personnel suspended. Their crime was to enforce the regulations resulting in a complaint from (manufacturing) industry. The sad fact is that CASA stood down two exceptionally experienced personnel without reference to their side of the story. It was a clever complaint. These two are being treated unfairly by CASA management. Whilst this action goes on, presently into the fifth week, the investigation they initiated is presently on hold. I stand by their findings and believe the safety risk that was identified is being ignored. I accept industry has a right to complain however in this instance it appears to have been used as a trump card and consequently has diverted CASA’s attention away from Safety and towards defending relations with industry. Significant, recurring issues were found showing lack of management commitment with this company. We cannot do our jobs with a compliant management structure.

Alan Carpenter has sacked John Halden and dumped three other lobbyists, who were also managing candidates (Peter Clough, Daniel Smith and John Whitelaw). But what about former lobbyists, like Roger Cook, late of CPR, who continued in their lobbying roles right up until preselection and now can conveniently invite former clients to fundraising events? If you want a clean break of lobbying influence, that means not preselecting lobbyists for safe seats.

The West Australian seeks a spin doctor to somehow point the blame at the ALP government for the gas crisis in the State, after an incident at the North-West Apache plant. This is a front page news item (the whole page!) and business and industry face production stagnation for weeks. How can the daily rag find a way to blame the ALP government for an accident at a privately owned and operated plant? The citizens of WA cannot go a day without being force-fed Liberal Party advertorials and blatant Labor-bashing. Help! Karl Rove! Anyone!…well, as long as you are Right!

Around Oz, Gardasil is being pushed onto girls much like this one, with next to no research on girls under 16, hopefully not with the same result, but right now we have no way of knowing. But in the meantime, her family needs to know if there are “strong comparable” cases anywhere in the world.

The Weekend Australian led with the “secret tip off” story from Airservices Australia that Air Traffic Controllers were claiming an outrageous 63% increase; which will cripple the airline industry and cost them tens of Millions. There is an interesting debate on PPRUNE (Rumour Network) see the thread here. I find post #35 most accurate and summarises the debate well. Repeated below in case it’s deleted:

A CEO earning $32M (Mac Bank) or $6M (Red rat) isn’t greed – its market forces and appropriate remuneration. Well this is market forces at work. The country’s ATC is bleeding controllers to retirement and OS jobs, and is on the cusp of being irretrievably fcuked.

The average age in some Australian ATC groups and Towers is over 50. The global ATC shortage is over 3000 so the market prices for the skill and experience are going up and Aussies are viewed favourably OS. Serco Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc), the GCAA (Abu Dhabi), the IAA (Shannon and Dublin) and DFS (numerous locations in Germany) publish regular ads in international aviation industry publications.

The actual pay increase pursued for the average controller with more than 15 years in (2 years of training and 13 years operational) is 23% NOT 63%, whilst this is still less than Dubai and Abu Dhabi it will make us competitive with the Europeans and some in their mid 50s may hang around for an extra year or two to increase their super.

Productivity? What about 28% more revenue paying International and Domestic passengers in the 2 years between 2005 and 2007* with 10% less ATC staff? The Cost to industry of saying OK?

  1. To Airservices? About $25M after tax (Airservices profit last year was around $105 of which $65 was returned to the Federal Govt as “profit” and included in consolidated revenue). So that means 24% less profit (oh no, the sky is falling, we’re doomed and going straight to hell).
  2. To the Govt, Airservices’ only shareholder? From 1. above, about $25M less consolidated revenue which is 0.12% of its $21.7 billion budget surplus.
  3. To the airlines? Ideally – Zilch, Zip, Zero, Nil, Narda (its coming from Airservices profit). IF (a big If) Airservices did pass the $25M onto the airlines and they in turn passed it on 100% to the passenger tickets (marked “ATC greed” on your receipt), how much is this per ticket?… around 33c (based on 45million domestic and 22million International passengers 06/07 — from DOTARS). Yup, the princely sum of 33c on your ticket. Maybe it will take a CFIT with a non-GPWS equipped aircraft or a mid-air between a Boeing and a lightie (with his transponder off removing the TCAS safety net) in TIBA airspace before Joe Citizen in the street realises what ATCers do for a living.

What’s was up with Virgin Blue on Friday? I had a 0905 flight (DJ705) (Sydney-Coollangatta) on Friday. My partner and I decided to get to the airport early so we could have some breakfast there (as the Bluey “a la cart” has absolute rubbish to eat AND you pay through the nose for it). So, we got there at 0730 so we could have a leisurely breakfast. As we arrived at the airport I got a voicemail from Virgin Blue advising that the flight had been cancelled. After going through security I looked at the monitors showing arrivals/departures and could see six other flights had been cancelled, and the departure times only went from 0730 to 0905! When confronting the pretty young things at “the lounge” to enquire what exactly was going on they trotted out the tired old line that the cancellations were due to “weather”. When I asked “what weather?” as Sydney was fine for flying and Coollangatta was also (we’d phoned our friends there who were expecting us) I was told that “weather” meant ANYWHERE VIRGIN BLUE FLIES. This means if a plane is delayed in Broome they can quote “weather” as the reason, and of course, that means they’re not liable for any sort of compensation. We were then told there was a 1205 flight, but they couldn’t guarantee THAT flight would leave, either, because of “weather”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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