Marketing boss Antony Catalano is the first major casualty at The Age. Advertising director David Hoath has been given a Sales and Marketing Role.

Joke doing the rounds at Fairfax: How do you turn a big business into a small business? Answer: Give it to a New Zealander.

There is much trepidation within the walls of the Alan Woods building in Canberra this week, as Airservices Australia employees ponder who is set to be appointed to replace the troubled CEO Greg Russell.

Following on from the unsurprising announcement that CASA CEO Bruce Byron will not contend his position next year, there is little surprise, within what is colloquially known as “bullsh-t castle”, that Russell will be leaving to “spend more time with his family”. Russell had little choice in reality — his main charter to the government was to provide an adequate and safe Air Traffic Control service. Despite spirited attempts at shifting the blame of failure to his own staff with some savage assaults in the media, the Air Traffic Services in Australia have become third world.

With little prospect of recovery for some years thanks to countless reorganisations, and a decimation of training resources under the stewardship of Russell and his senior management, the focus came back squarely on the dysfunctional management of the organisation. Several high level scalps have already gone over the past 18 months and nervousness is now quite noticeable in the corner offices as CV’s are dusted off.

It seems there are few now willing to be associated with the senior managements vision. Anthony Albanaese is apparently not impressed either at being led astray — there are some serious questions as to the “accuracy” of replies given in the previous Senate Estimates — and rumours of a complete outsider to replace Russell have tongues wagging. Whoever it is will have a tough job ahead of them. Building back the respect and trust of their workforce is going to take years in itself, assuming any of the highly skilled operational staff bother staying at all.

Yesterday, my parents were stuck at Christchurch International after their Jetstar flight to Melbourne had two aborted take-offs. The explanation given — an electrical fault with the fuel system in the RH engine of the A320 aircraft (new aircraft). They could have taken a flight via Auckland and Norfolk Island (increasing flight time to over five hours) in order to keep within one hour flight’s time of somewhere to land. After reading the CASA and QANTAS issues regarding 737 bulkheads and auditing failures, my parents decided to wait for a flight this morning.

A Qantas engineer of many years standing indicated to me that the slippery slide in maintenance started when the Ansett/Qantas “merger” happened and Ansett executives moved into all the key management positions, including Dixon. A reverse takeover by a failed organisation. Follow the whiff of Ansett practises and that will explain the decline of Qantas maintenance procedures.

My son was on QF25 to LA via Auckland on Monday. Big bang, oxygen masks down, passengers told lightning hit the wing , plane diverted to Wellington for inspection/repair. Arrived in LA five and a half hours late. Was it lightning?

Word filtering out of Menzies House in Perth, is that Colin Barnett finds himself in a position to be Premier in about a fortnight’s time. In fact many around the traps are speculating that the deals that were done to install Barnett as leader will need to be honoured, something no-one gave a lot of serious thought to at the time. But hey, he’s got a chance now.

The main deal needing to be honoured involves Liz Constable being rewarded for being on the team, taking on the education portfolio. This then allows key Buswell backer Peter Collier to to take on the leadership in the Upper House.

The current leader in the Upper House Norman Moore is no Barnett fan and would be forced out. Norman Moore is very close to NCB, also no fan of Barnett. Moore could be in line for an overseas post, if he continues to play the team game. It promises to be an interesting fortnight.

Darwin ABC reporter Margie Smithurst has been pulled off Stateline due to her relationship with Michael Gunner, newly elected MP for the seat of Fannie Bay. Gunner, a former staffer for Clare Martin, took over her seat by a bare margin of 92 seats and, as is well known, Martin herself was a former ABC reporter

But why did the ABC miss the fact that Turnbull isn’t out of the woods on FAI/HIH yet?

I hope you spotted the howler by Gerard Henderson in his SMH column yesterday morning. Third paragraph:

Proportional representation for the Senate was introduced by Labor and came into effect at the December 1949 election. For the first time since the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, it became possible for Opposition parliamentarians in the upper house to block, or defeat, legislation passed by the governing party in the House of Representatives.

No Gerard. The power had existed since Federation. That was how the Cook government achieved a double dissolution in 1914, and why the Scullin government had so much of legislation defeated in the Senate. Given Gerard’s propensity to pick up others for not getting things right, this is a bit embarrassing.

Here in sunny Tassie the press seem unable to count. The Examiner on Sunday the 24th — 5000 protest the pulp mill. The Mercury on Sunday the 24th 10 000 protest pulp mill. Guess which paper Gunns advertises in?

Peter Fray

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