Bill Heffernan was the MP who had to be talked out of moving a spill motion in the Coalition party room a fortnight ago.

Brendan Nelson’s Chief of Staff Peter Hendy certainly seemed relaxed about his leader’s security at yesterday’s QLD Media Club lunch. He nodded off several times at the Head Table while his boss spoke.

The demise of Matt Brown as Police Minister comes as no surprise. We as operators saw him in full flight at a function in the Hunter after his appointment as Tourism Minister — not a good look. Needs to be a greater review before these appointments and deep throat feedback on their personal and a/h life.

In the Senate Inquiry into water management in the Coorong and Lower Lakes — it looks like the Ministers office is trying to micromanage the inquiry. The chair and ALP senators have cheat sheets of questions they’re sticking to, questions aren’t being well shared, and senior Ministerial advisors are keeping a very close eye on proceedings. Makes you wonder just how far the control arm of K-Rudd stretches. Not even Howard went that far…

The Cutler report on innovation has finally been released — and the not very innovative Department of Innovation has shown its dedication to dead technologies: the font, colours and especially the layout of the document make it almost impossible to read on a computer screen. The postponed Departmental meeting has been re-scheduled for Thursday morning, and Tuesday’s announcement of other Secretarial appointments have increased speculation about the future of Mark Paterson. Such is the popularity of these speculations, the Department has blocked access to the Crikey ‘Anonymous Tips’ page!

On Fairfax, if you subscribe to AFR online edition only it costs $109 per month whereas subscribing to AFR delivered each day and on-line together costs $110 per month. Even the guys in AFR subscriptions working at Fairfax think that’s bloody ridulous! The things some papers do to get their numbers up! What’s the extra cost if I want to offset my carbon emissions for getting the printed edition delivered?

Not sure if it’s happening in other parts of Sydney, but in North Sydney at a large Wilson carpark there is a stand with free copies of the Daily Telegraph available to all and sundry. This carpark is used by a large number of people all day as a shorcut between different parts of the business area. Must do wonders for the circulation figures if its city wide.

Unless you were a very informed voter — how would you know that if you voted for either of the two groups of yellow “Independents” you were in reality voting for the right wing of the NSW Liberal Party? Attached “How To Vote” for Nick Berman and his Liberal right cohorts. Nick Berman — Jackie Kelly staffer, Philip Ruddock protégé, recently married to Christine Suttie the niece of David Clark MLC, well known Liberal Party operative.

The Federal environment department appears to have outgrown its shell and will be now be occupying space at Canberra’s The Realm hotel. The other half of the agency became the Department of Climate Change and occupied a remarkably unenvironmentally friendly building in Constitution Avenue some time back. Internal arrangements to manage the Realm split are complex:

Procurement and Travel Functions Offsite

The Commercial Business Section will move this Friday night (12 September 2008) from the John Gorton Building to Hotel Realm on National Circuit. This move is for a short period of time to alleviate accommodation pressures. As a result of the move there will be some changes to the provision of services as follows:

Procurement

The best way to contact the Procurement Team will be through the Procurement.Helpdesk email or by phone. A Procurement In-Tray will be left in the Financial Management Branch area on Level 1, JGB with contents to be collected daily. Mail services (internal and external) will continue through Records Management.

To assist in obtaining approvals (Procurement approvals and FMA Regulation 10 authorisations) from the senior executive, areas may be requested to scan documents and provide these electronically to Procurement Team for progression.

Travel

The best way to contact the Travel Team will be through the Travel Unit Helpdesk email or by phone.

The International Travel Officer will be located offsite which will mean that international travellers should build in more time for the obtaining of passports and visas and work closely with the Travel Team to achieve this. A Travel In-Tray will be left in the Financial Management Branch area on Level 1, JGB with contents to be collected daily.

To assist in obtaining approvals and progressing travel arrangements areas may be requested to scan documents (note the originals of passport and visa applications must be provided) and provide these electronically to the Travel Team for progression.

Credit Cards

Credit cards will continue to be managed and issued by the Procurement Team from Hotel Realm. New or reissued cards will likely be mailed out to cardholders through the internal mail rather than collected from the Procurement Team. Where possible the Team will deliver the cards in person. Areas should exercise caution and work with the Procurement Team to ensure cards do not go missing.

The Section appreciates your patience at this time. Areas should double check all forms and documents provided to the Procurement and Travel teams for errors or omissions as these will significantly delay processes.

Special CEO Message. 10 September 2008 Transcript:

Hello and welcome to this special CEO Direct message.

Today I want to give you an update on progress of the Collective Agreements.

Negotiations for the Corporate, ARFF and ATC agreements are reaching crucial stages and meetings with our various unions in the coming weeks will focus on discussions aimed at reaching early agreements. I hope we will be able to make the first increases in salaries payable under those new agreements as soon as possible. In relation to Corporate and the ARFF these negotiations are progressing well. For the Corporate agreement, discussions over the past month have centred on working hours, performance and salary advancement, consultation, career development, recruitment and training. With the ARFF negotiations, we have presented our position on issues such as work complexity and fire officer allowances, flexible rostering and attendance management. The United Fire-fighters Union has also presented its case to us in support of its log of claims. In short, I have a good degree of confidence that an early settlement to these two negotiations may be possible. Although we have set aside Thursday and Friday of this week for concentrated negotiations with Civil Air, unfortunately this agreement looks much more difficult.

The Civil Air log of claims is calling for unrealistic pay rises that would increase our operating costs by around $100 million a year and completely wipe out the profits of this organisation. Civil Air has either not costed its pay claims or, if this claim is serious, it is completely out of step with the Federal Government’s wage guidelines and the downturn that is now occurring in the aviation industry. In the national interest, we need to find some common ground if we are going to be able to negotiate a pay deal with our air traffic controllers. Just to give you some perspective, the sort of CPI related increases which are currently being negotiated are between 3% and 4% with an additional component for self-funded productivity. By comparison, Civil Air’s log of claims is for an average 25% increase in alignment pay plus increases of around 4% per annum. This represents a significant gap between what this organisation can afford and what the Federal Government is prepared to sanction. However, having said that there is still an opportunity to overcome these hurdles.

As I have said before, my aim is to get a settlement for this agreement. To this end I have empowered the negotiating team to make actual decisions within a negotiating framework approved by the Board and the Government. They will be working hard to try and achieve an outcome during the two-day negotiations with Civil Air this week. Let me also update you all on the issue of training and staffing. This is part of a broader commitment to reform to put more focus on training and workforce planning across the organisation. Last month I sent you our workforce plan which provides all our staff with a commitment from the Board and management to address staffing and training issues across the organisation over the next five years. We are serious about this. It is a major priority for this organisation going forward and it is a key plank in our whole reform program.

Last Friday we saw 17 new fire fighting recruits graduate from the Learning Academy in Melbourne. Our technical trainee numbers have grown over the past couple of years from almost none to today where we have 44 trainees in the organisation. One area that has got a lot of publicity has been the air traffic control staffing issues. This is being fixed and we are tackling this issue in three ways. The first is to increase our trainee intake to between 80 to 100 trainees each year for the next five years. We are finding no shortage of potential recruits and, with a new approach to our training activities, the pass rate has improved substantially. In order to meet this target we have increased the number of instructors and put new effort into our training facilities. Secondly, we will continue to accept a small number of experienced air traffic controllers from the Royal Australian Air Force as well as air traffic controllers who want to return to Australia; and Finally, a significant opportunity exists with the ATC reform project to better utilise our existing ATC staff.

Just by standardising our rostering arrangements and reducing the large number of separate sector-by-sector endorsements, we will free up experienced air traffic controllers that will mean that not only can we meet our service requirements, but also our training needs. Importantly that will allow us to put into action our plans for career development opportunities which have been sadly lacking for our air traffic controllers. Let me conclude by saying that there is a broad reform program now well underway to address long standing issues in this organisation. I ask all of you and our union representatives to understand that it is possible for these wage negotiations that are now ahead of us to be successfully concluded with reasonable outcomes for all concerned. We will then be able to move forward and get on with our very big work agenda. I will update you more regularly on the wage negotiations in coming weeks.

Thankyou all.

There have been eight ATC resignations this week. Keep up the good work Greg, you’ve lost the plot. Leave for $200K plus (tax free) or stay for 4% on top of my current 85K base? The choice is easy even if I have to live in the desert, you’re forcing me into it. Respect man, get out your check-book or your good-bye card stash; your choice. Nobody is suggesting “cripple” the business, but be honest with us, and share your profits properly, recognise true productivity, or maybe just share your bonus; it would be a start. The plans for recruiting are BS, we know it, you know it. Now it’s about reducing the numbers of controllers, a new slant. One wonders what ICAO has got to say about taking short cuts with the rating/endorsement processes. What has CASA got to say? Probably nothing, as usual.

Peter Fray

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