Fairfax 1. Whilst The Age cuts funding to the employee canteen, ad sources say the Age is splurging $100,000 on an entertainment extravaganza at Caulfield during the Spring Carnival.

Fairfax 2. Not only did the AFR staff not walk off the job during the weekend’s Fairfax strike, but they received a $200 gift voucher and free lunch for turning up to work.

Fairfax 3. Mike Carlton stays sacked from his column in the Saturday SMH, despite the following statement from the company on Sunday: “…there has been an undertaking that there will be no recriminations in relation to any matter arising from the industrial dispute. In addition, each party undertook that there will be no victimisation or discrimination against any person arising from their activities in the course of the industrial dispute.” There are three reasons: 1) shoot one to encourage the others. 2) the cost cutting axe and 3) the Fairfax board wants the paper to lurch to the political right. The powers-that-be are also hoping Alan Ramsey will gracefully retire after his illness.

Fairfax 4. Fairfax management has been stunned by the angry reader reaction to the Mike Carlton sacking. Hence David Kirk’s smarmy piece of hand-washing in the paper this morning. Furious emails and letters to the editor have flooded in; the directive has gone out that none will be published. Blame for the debacle is being sheeted home to editor-in-chief Phil McLean, who is seen by staff as a tabloid hack out of his depth and out of touch with Herald readers and culture. The punters were particularly incensed that Carlton was replaced in last week’s paper by Attila The Hen, Miranda Devine.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is being hit by hard times as a direct result of Labor’s Razor Gang. Essentially the APSC gain 48% of their budget through commercial activities. These have been significantly stemmed by the Rudd Government’s cuts to Department/Agency budgets. This means there is less recruitment activity and therefore less staff training required. Here is the Parliamentary document outlining this and other risks for the APSC. Is this the end for the APSC and is it time for them to become a Division within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet?:

There are some risks to the Commission’s budget in 2008–09 and in the forward years. The first is the potential impact of the tighter budgetary climate on the Commission’s income from development programs and employment services. As agencies scale back their recruitment practices and reduce their investment in development programs as a result of the tighter budgetary climate, the Commission’s cost-recovery income will reduce significantly and there will be challenges in meeting fixed costs.

The second risk arises from the Commission’s outsourced arrangements for information technology (IT) infrastructure support services. The Commission has outsourced these services in a contract with other agencies, known as Group 8. The contract comes to an end in June 2009 and cannot be extended. Group 8 will disband on the expiry of the contract. The costs of tendering and establishing a new contract are substantial, and there is uncertainty about the commercial terms likely to be available to the Commission as a small agency. Finally, the Commission has absorbed rising property costs to date but will face challenges in continuing to meet them.

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr — the ewok himself — is speaking at the Press Club on Wednesday. There are rumours of a big announcement. Last week the Secretary of the Department sent out an email to all staff, urging them to watch the broadcast, and summoning them to a whole-of-Department meeting at the National Convention Centre on Thursday. Could be a major restructure in the offing — perhaps even redundancies. Including, some say, the Secretary himself.

Still no quarterly performance result from the Everest Absolute return funds. Fobbed off again by management. This is the result for the quarter ending 30 June. It is now September and still no sign of a result.

The Cutler Innovation Review will be released publicly this week. Kim Carr will be pursuing a major funding package outside the Budget process, but one of the biggest hurdles will be overcoming the determination of the education sector – and the Commonwealth education bureaucracy – to control research funding.

On Saturday 30 August 08, I boarded Jetstar flight JQ761 at 6.06am from Adelaide to Sydney. After waiting on board for a few minutes we were informed engineers were coming to look at a problem on the plane. There was a problem with one of the wing flaps (generally a requirement for safe flying). After approximately 30 minutes we are asked to leave the plane and waitied in the terminal. Our luggage was unloaded. After another 30 minutes we were advised that the plane had to be towed away for repairs and a replacement plane would be brought from Melbourne. After waiting six hours, the plane from Melbourne finally arrived and we left Adelaide airport on our journey at 12.20pm. The maintenace of Jetstar planes follows Qantas in that the standards are dropping faster than birdsh-t!

Can’t beat the Courier Mail website. They are linking to a story from the News of the World. From November last year.

Peter Fray

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