Why does Stephen Smith, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, have an acting Chief of Staff 11 and a half months after the election? His first acting COS left because of the hours and the replacement Kate Callaghan has been acting in the position for at least seven months. She should either be made permanent or given the flick.

Fairfax has been offering grief counselling to journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald who did NOT get their redundancy applications accepted.

Due to a rostering snafu, The Age owes its long-suffering sub-editors about 1200 weeks in unpaid overtime. But even though the paper admits its mistake and the contract terms are clear in the EBA, the paper is playing hardball and refusing to pay the about $1.5 million it owes. The overtime error affects all day sub-editors who have worked on the paper in the past few years, including many who recently took redundancy. The underpayments also affect superannuation and all associated taxes. The union, which said it was unaware of the underpayments until new seven-day rosters were drawn up recently, is investigating following a stop-work meeting last week, sources say. The issue relates to how long subs can take on their meal breaks. The EBA lays out plainly that subs are entitled to 60 minutes meal break in a standard shift however they have only been getting 30 minutes. The problem is especially acute now that the canteen closes at 5pm, leaving employees just half an hour to find food outside work and get back to their battery-hen existences. Morale is as low as its been since Warwick Fairfax’s day — why is it whenever a Fairfax family member gets involved with its namesake masthead that the employees suffer?

I notice The Australian is running a campaign against Queensland’s south-east recycling water project. I have been told by a staff member of News that it is a Sydney-based campaign with the support of the business community and others who are scared that if it succeeds in Queensland it will be implemented in NSW. Probably why — for donations — the LNP has gone back on the fence, backing off bipartisan support. Would that have anything to do with donations from Toowoomba multi-millionaire developer Clive Berghofer, a former Nationals State MP and strident anti-campaigner in the failed Toowoomba move for recycled water. Toowoomba’s water supply is now under 10%, Brisbane’s around 40%.

Peter Fray

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