ABC Books is officially getting the chop later this month. Staff have been told they’ll be needing to look for work at the end of October. ABC Books as a brand will remain though, with a private publishing house likely to pick it up.

In Tuesday’s West Australian newspaper their economics correspondent offered his analysis of the global financial crisis, and suggested that to have a proper understanding of the situation one had to be familiar with the economic theories of Milton Keynes. Shame that the poor residents of Buckinghamshire should take the blame for the meltdown. The Worst printed a rather sheepish correction on Wednesday. I look forward to ecumenical issues being discussed with Bishop Stortford.

An opera buff writes: Paul Curran is an opera director who trained at NIDA and once worked with the Australian Opera before it inexplicably changed its name to Opera Australia. Curran has often expressed a desire to return here but it seems the powers that be at our ‘national’ company don’t require his services. However many international companies, including La Scala, La Fenice, Bologna, Rome and Naples along with Chicago Lyric Opera, Canadian Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Stuttgart Opera and the Kirov in St. Petersburg, inter alia, seem to like his work. As do some of the leading overseas critics. Here’s a link to the FT where their critic Andrew Clark has nice things to say about Curran’s latest work for Welsh National Opera. So when might he receive a long-distance call from Bennelong Point?

Not so much a tip as passing on comment from a friend who works for ABC: Reference the Drama “editorial” roles going — ABC TV needs more cleaning out… There is still much unnecessary travel by managers and their assistants flying weekly between states, racking up per diems and cabfares and accommodation charges. The sooner ABC outsources the bulk of TV programs, the better for the audience. The place is still overmanaged.

Today I made a small change to my web page and tested it by downloading the page from the Web. No change. Believing I had made an error, I reloaded the page again. Finally I concluded that I was receiving a cached version of my web page from my service provider. Sure enough, they confirmed that because of the lack of bandwidth to Tasmania, all service providers are having either to slow the service to Tassie or cache content up to two hours. This is not good enough particularly as there is an unused fibre optic cable connecting Tasmania to the big island.

If you think it’s only the external relationships Tabcorp buggers up … think again. On September 1 they introduced a new system in NSW for venues to bank the money they collect from customers. This initiative replaced a perfectly functioning system that had been in place for decades. After nothing but errors and complaints they were recently obliged to send this notice to all of their venues:

As is often the case with the implementation of any new systems, processes or practice, there is a likelihood that some teething problems may occur. With this in mind Tabcorp has been experiencing a few anomalies since the introduction of the new settlement process for agencies that came into effect on September the 1st 2008. This has had a flow on effect to the processing of Licensed Venue settlements.

Tabcorp would like to assure Agents that these anomalies are currently being addressed with the parties involved, such as BRINKS, Tabcorp and associated Financial Institutions, in efforts to rectify these issues.

Tabcorp would like to reassure Agents that may have been charged associated dishonour fees due to these anomalies by reimbursing the fees accrued from these system errors.

Wagering Finance would like to take this opportunity to thank Agents for their patience and understanding whilst these new processes are streamlined, and to assure you that this is receiving our utmost attention.

The “teething problems” they refer to result from people who know nothing about the business, tinkering with things they have no reason to change, and then implementing changes without consultation or testing. The reassurance and refunding of dishonour fees arises from Tabcorp automatically sweeping accounts for the wrong amounts. That is, they tell a venue they need to bank X and then debit the account for X + Y! To put the farce into perspective you need to remember that NSW venues would bank around 16% of the weekly NSW turnover … that is, many, many millions per week. And at this point they are unable to reconcile what’s been collected by Brinks, what’s been banked, and what they’ve swept from the venue’s accounts.

In a radical change of direction, the NSW Liberal Party has chosen three candidates from non-Anglo backgrounds to run in three Sydney by-elections on October 18. In Deputy Premier John Watkins’ seat of Ryde, the Liberal hopeful is a third generation Italian solicitor Victor Dominello. In Premier Morris Iemma’s seat of Lakemba, the Liberal standard bearer is a Muslim, first generation Australian and Canterbury councillor Michael Hawatt. And seeking the vacancy in Health Minister Reba Meagher’s seat of Cabramatta is Dai Le, a Vietnamese who came to Australia as a boat person and now works as a highly regarded ABC journalist-producer. Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell has championed the selection of community candidates as a means of highlighting Labor’s predictable choice of party time-servers in all three seats.

Peter Fray

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