About four weeks ago in Newtown, a pair of filmmakers approached passers-by explaining they were making a general documentary on people’s lives in the city and asked if they could film. No release forms were signed nor was any information beyond the above provided. I agreed to take part.

I discovered yesterday that in fact my image had been used (for at least a minute) as part of a Hillsong propaganda video and the strong impression was given that I am either a member of, or support the church. I wonder how many other people are unaware that their image has been used in this way. I for one have begun pursuing legal action.

About 400 to 500 people across Myer are set to share in tens of millions of dollars in performance bonuses, which will be paid in the next couple of weeks. They have been earned not through sales growth but through cost reduction (i.e., lower salary costs as staff numbers and hours are slashed), which has driven profit through the roof. They range from five-figure bonuses for store managers, senior store staff, who have slashed staff hours and some heads in recent months (by deadlines to ensure 07/08 bonuses would be higher), through to sizable six figure bonuses for members of the executive, including the CEO and Chairman.

All this while Myer is falling apart, as the loss today of major youth brand Industrie to David Jones, and the recent announcement of increasingly desperate marketing measures to get people into their stores. Myer is in a spiral that is reminiscent of the mid to late 1990s, when the company generated huge profits through cost reduction and merchandise changes that made stores look less like department stores and more like discount barns.

The reason why Foreign Correspondent, Four Corners and the rest have long holidays is because they aren’t funded to provide a full year’s programming. And haven’t been for years. So much for those delusional Howard apologists who still think tinkering with the figures proves the Coalition didn’t punish the ABC. Slashed budgets for these shows goes back to 1996 — when even worse cuts affected radio.

One State employer organisation has been sacking staff before the appointment of its new CEO. For an organisation that gives industrial advice to its members about procedural fairness, it certainly doesn’t heed its own advice.

The Bligh election campaign is being run by the Qld ALP State Secretary club. Every State Sec since Wayne Swan is involved (all bar Milton Dick). Mike Kaiser is Bligh’s Chief of Staff and effectively Campaign Director, Cameron Milner, who followed Kaiser as ALP State Sec, is the Strategic Media adviser and research coordinator and young Anthony Chisholm, the current State Sec, is responsible for the logistics of the campaign. All from the right wing AWU faction — the only senior Left person involved is Bligh herself.

The arrivals lounge at terminal 4 at Heathrow in London has been closed with no plans to reopen. Bad luck for Qantas business travellers.

The Advertising Standards Bureau — the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body — is currently running an advertising campaign to solicit complaints, with the theme, “Tell someone who cares”. If you complain to the ASB and they reject your complaint as not falling within the scope of their codes (which are so phrased and limited that few complaints succeed, particularly in areas such as alcohol or junk food), you receive an email concluding, “Please do not reply to this email. Reply emails to this address are not monitored”.

Any government agency that not only showed a lack of interest in queries or follow-up, but even told members of the public not to bother them again would be rightly pilloried. Maybe the ASB just doesn’t care very much.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service senior management have stuck it to staff just when families are struggling to make ends meet. Staff will now be expected to foot the bill for parking if they work at airports across Australia. This can range from $8-$15 per day. So serious are the Executive Management on this issue they hired a legal squad to ensure they won an industrial issue raised by staff on the additional costs that they would need to foot. How much did this legal action cost?

Interesting to note that while operational staff will foot the bill and be out of pocket, the Senior Executive Service (SES) appointments at Customs have been rising at an alarming rate. Nothing like looking after your own. Maybe CEO Carmody AO might be asked to explain why the influx in SES appointments. At least we know who is funding these positions — OPERATIONAL STAFF. There will certainly be no national awards to his contribution to Australian Customs and Border Protection.

Where is Lindsay Tanner and the Razor Gang when you need them! Start looking at the top-heavy SES at Customs.

I am a retail shareholder in Westfield. I have just spoken to the company — IR — as to why the sucker retail shareholders were not given the opportunity to invest in the Westfield placement at the hugely discounted price of $10.50 — unlike the lucky institutions. Seems as though “timing” would not allow as a rights issue would necessitate a prospectus, time would elapse, no certainty etc etc etc. So what about an SPP for retail like everyone else does.

No real answer to that except that the placement is good for everyone because Westfield will be able to avail themselves of opportunities in future etc. Not one reference in any document yesterday from Westfield refering to their retail shareholder base and how they are looking after them as well as their current, and now NEW institutional shareholders — OR WHY THEY COULD NOT TREAT ALL SHAREHOLDERS ALIKE.

Maybe crikey could find out from Westfield just why it couldn’t afford all of it’s shareholders some degree of consistency and equity. 

On SBS World News last night, the file clip used to illustrate the Government’s $200,000 refurb bonus for every school featured The King’s School, the largest recipient of Federal funding to private schools under the flawed Howard (and now Rudd) Government models (around $2 million a year, in addition to around $3 million in donations).

A school which charges $39 930 for a Year 11 place (Year 12 gets a $180-odd discount for only three terms’ tuition and boarding) and which boasts wifi connections in the classrooms and boarding houses, its own hospital, fully-catered dining hall, over 20 playing fields, two theatres, two concert venues, a shooting range, an Olympic pool, 25 metre lap pool, diving pool — just tore down the old gym to build one — and a “Centre for Leadership Studies”.

The ideal candidate for $200,000 — when most public school kids are suffering in unairconditioned demountables.. and just as eligible, apparently.

Peter Fray

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