The Federal Department of Health is struggling for some continuity of management. Mick Reid left as Chief of Staff of Roxon’s office, partly due to acrimony between him and the Minister. Many had tipped Reid as the replacement for Jane Halton when her contract ends later this year; until then, the Department is in a holding pattern. The performance of Roxon and her department in the alcopops debate has left many inside and outside the government unimpressed, however much it suits the Prime Minister’s moral panic-based policy approach. Roxon had a very long talk with Rudd at the Dispatch Box yesterday while the Opposition moved its facile censure motion.

Our dep sec let the cat out of the bag this morning. He is one on the chosen ones and confided to my boss that many Government back benchers are relieved the parliamentry winter recess will take the spotlight off them for a while. They worry Labor is heading the same way as the last government: Howard became the untouchable messiah and now Wong, Garrett and Rudd are becoming untouchable too. Just as enviro issues hit the deck and people are asking the hard questions, the glamour and spin is fading fast. My boss says panic is just around the corner.

Qantas has issued an INTAM to its pilots to blame all technical delays on Engineers OT ban. From the horse’s mouth.

QANTAS’s IT problems run very deep. They built a new datacentre, without actually checking that the local substation could provide enough power to it. It couldn’t. The result was a half-running data centre and a very large load of delayed projects. Perhaps the delay wasn’t caused by fear alone?

“Qantas’s sh-t-scared, buck-passing IT department couldn’t bring themselves to tell the boss that they needed the money to make the necessary changes.” You are getting closer to a big mess and top-down bullying. IT Outsourcing to TaTa of India and others is a strategic nightmare, Telstra internet slowest in any big Aust city, hundreds of crewing BB devices not functioning correctly and systems down and more. Business consultant mates associated with Peter Cosgrove who know little about business or emergencies, all talk and smiling free lunches of the 20km circumference incrowd.

Tuesday night. QF29 to London via Hong Kong set to leave at 2250. Announcement: Flight delayed because incoming flight behind schedule. I have another sav blanc in the lounge. Finally get on board and we leave sometime before 1am. As I settle back I recall my friend saying you’ll be in Hong Kong before you know it. Next thing I am waking from a slumber with the captain remarking that we may have notified that the sun is on the wrong side of the plane — we’re off to Manila because there is a typhoon in HK. He said we had enough fuel to do some laps above HK but a quick trip to Manila to sit on the ground for an hour or two was preferable. Get to Manila but not allowed off the plane because not enough staff at the airport. Announcement: we’re about to leave. The next announcement: we can’t leave because there is a maintenance issue and there is no Qantas engineer available and I thought they were only striking in Australia. So, we are told, a series of faxes (no email at the very pointy end of the plane yet?) is flowing between us in Manila and Qantas and whoever in Melbourne and Sydney. That’s not good enough so the problem is referred to CASA in Canberra. Four hours later we leave Manila with the people in the sardine can that is economy expiring from the heat. For some reason there was not enough food on board despite the menu saying we could have foccacias at any time during the flight. So the crew rustled up some two minute noodles. I hadn’t thought that my first ever two minute noodles would be experienced on the tarmac outside gate 77 at Ninoy Acquino international airport. Up, up and away for the 1.5 hour flight to HK. A further delay in leaving because a passenger was missing. Flight uneventful thereafter but arrived in London over seven hours late. I am wondering if we had left on time — incoming flight delay being euphemism for engineers not working — we might have avoided the typhoon and got in to London at the scheduled hour  As the information from the captain was very limited, I will never know.

Re. ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope’s instructions to staff to start looking for dirt on Opposition Leader Zed Seselja, here’s one trick that’s sure to backfire. Even rusted-on Labor supporters are impressed by Seselja, who has shown himself to be hardworking, serious and smart (and by the look of things, up to the job of ousting Stanhope: why the dirt file, otherwise?). Labor staffers and the ACT media are tired of Stanhope’s many, many indiscretions, which have been indulged and tolerated only because the ACT Liberals couldn’t come up with a viable alternative for Chief Minister … until now. Stanhope’s attempts to smear Seselja, who is widely regarded across Canberra as a good guy, may finally lead to his own very messy public unmasking.

I hear that it’s very likely that not only will the ABC Shops and Centres be turned over to Dymocks (despite denials last month), but that the entirety of ABC Enterprises — book and magazine publishing, music, merchandising — is going too. I’d bet on either Allen & Unwin or Hardie Grant for the books…

There is a memo to all Coles Supermarket staff advising them to remove signs stating that bag checking is a condition of entry. Staff have been told not to check bags because their customers are honest.

What will Rudd say or do about Obama’s energy policy? 150 Billion a year for renewable energy!

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off