The Satyam computer story in India is just the tip of the iceberg. Most managers of large Silicon Valley (US bay area) companies have a vested interest in outsourcing work to contractors since they typically get 5 to 10% kickbacks … and the money is paid to relatives and others in India, China, etc so it cannot be traced back easily … at least that’s the rumor in Silicon Valley!

I received the following email from Telstra on Wednesday. Apart from the fact it took them more than three weeks to respond to my query I find it hard to understand why our major telco can’t (won’t?) ring me — but rather they advise me to ring them! “Thank you for your email dated 21/12/08 regarding your callback request concerning (deleted) … We are unable to call you as our department is able to correspond only through email. We direct our customers to appropriate channel who can give the best resolution to their issues and concerns. We recommend that you call us on the number below to discuss this matter as this type of concern requires further investigation. We apologize for the inconvenience as we do not have access to rectify accounts on our end. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 132200 or via if you require further information or assistance.”

Just at the time ABC Learning went belly up a brand new state of the art ABC learning centre was being constructed 100 metres from my home in Melbourne. Did they stop building? No, obviously had a contract with a builder so the receiver/administrator kept going. However, now it gets interesting. Not content with this lovely new building, it was then fully equipped from outdoor sandpits right through to mountains of teaching aids, toys and loads and loads of stuff. And since then it has sat — pristine like and ever so lonely. Until today.

Whilst walking my dog I noticed great activity at the ABC Learning centre. Twelve cars — with Queensland number plates — and about a dozen busy young women carting things out of the centre. I asked what is happening. “It’s up for sale so we are taking everything out”. Well there you are. Add up the cost of driving a dozen cars from Queensland with a dozen drivers and loading maybe $2000 worth of equipment into car boots! So this is how receivers/administrators spend more than they make for us poor shareholders.

From Five Dock at 4.20pm yesterday I watched a Qantas A330 abort a landing approach to Sydney. The plane made several quick/violent movements dipping its wings and yawing, before pointing its nose up, retracting wheels and climbing away. It circled back over to western Sydney, presumably to rejoin a landing pattern. Maybe this is just usual in stormy weather? It didn’t look good from the ground.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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