Philip Nitschke is in London. He had been invited to speak at the Queens University in Ireland after his London meetings. He has just received information telling him that his appearance at the Ethics conference in Ireland has been cancelled. Go to Exit International and see today’s newsletter for more information. Also, on his speaking Agenda was a meeting in Bournemouth, this has also been cancelled.

Has NSW Premier Rees found a new source of revenue to plug the budget black hole left to him by his former Labor colleagues? After four years of riding NSW public transport and never having seen a ticket inspector even once, I have now seen ticket inspectors twice in the last week — busily checking tickets and writing out fines! When Rees said he’d give being Premier his best shot, we were hoping for something a little better than this!

The rumour at CVC/ACP is Grazia may have been beheaded. The word has been out there that even starting Grazia was a bad idea months before it launched, all manner of people here and OS said as much. While it’s no secret it’s been hardly a raging success, I heard this morning that there have been some freight sizing going on.

Uncertainty redux. A quote:

We are at present in a period of unprecedented global economic uncertainty, driven by fundamentally unstable international financial markets. As the Australian Reserve Bank Governor stated most recently and starkly: Given the bigger role for economic contagion, more and more people are asking whether the international financial system as it has operated for most of the 1990s is basically unstable…

By now, I think the majority of observers have come to the conclusion that it is, and that sudden changes have to be made. This is perhaps one of the most significant public statements by a Reserve Bank Governor in a decade. Governments around the world, including this one, now struggle with what new regulatory structure should be put in place, as the market has apparently failed adequately to apply its own disciplines.

When was this said and by whom? It sounds very current but was said in the maiden speech of the MP for Griffith Mr Kevin Rudd on 11 November 1998. I guess this was the heart of the Asia crisis, it is fascinating how the “unprecedented global economic uncertainty” can always be surpassed by something more uncertain.

We also had our flights from Australia to Japan (Sydney/Osaka return) changed multiple times by Jetstar. After having booked and paid for a direct flight, we were then to be routed through Cairns for our return flight. A week later this changed to the Gold Coast, with a change to a domestic flight. A week later again this changed to transiting via the Gold Coast, but this time staying on the international flight as it sat for an hour and a half on tarmac at the Gold Coast (as advised by the Jetstar call centre when we tried to find out what was going on). Jetstar were unable to provide any details about where we might be going through customs, or what terminal we would fly into in Sydney.

What actually happened was that we were handed a scrap of paper by Jetstar AFTER checking in at Kansai (Osaka) airport advising that any liquid or gels purchased duty free would be confiscated when we went through customs at the Gold Coast — something that might have been handy to know BEFORE checking our luggage. Too bad if you wanted to buy some last minute sake. On landing at the Gold Coast, we were shepherded off the plane onto the tarmac and then into what looked suspiciously like a shipping container surrounded by chicken wire. We stood in line in this tin shed for the next hour — a specular introduction to Australia for the Japanese visitors on the flight.

After then going through some kind of security check, where passengers unlucky enough not to have closely read the scrap of paper handed to them eight hours before had their perfume and alcohol confiscated, we were traipsed back onto the same plane where we sat on the tarmac, as promised, for the next hour. So arrived 6am, left 8am. The whole time the airport staff were milling around muttering cranky words about Jetstar, which was nothing compared to what the passengers had to say.

It got even better when domestic passengers boarded at the Gold Coast after apparently not being told that they would be on an international flight with international flight requirements. The whole thing was a debacle — something which seemed to completely allude the blissfully unaware staff. They gave the entire impression that this is the way Jetstar regularly conducts passenger transportation. Next time we’re going to spend a little more and institute an “anyone-but-Jetstar” flight booking policy.

Peter Fray

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