Regarding the expansion of mining in Kakadu. Is our Environment Minister aware of the hundreds and thousands of litres of sulphuric acid that are trucked through Kakadu National Park every day for processing purposes since the failing acid plant on site has closed down.

Former adviser to Gary Nairn, Peter Phelps who asked some rather nasty questions of Mike Kelly before the last election is back working as an adviser for Senator Michael Ronaldson.

A unanimous decision saw Mark Whittaker elected State Secretary for NT ALP. Whittaker used to work for QLD Party Office and moved to the NT last July.

You may be interested in knowing that “Knox City” shopping centre in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne is raising rents by about 40% for small businesses. They want the small ones out so they can gouge the bigger players for even more rent. A small fruit shop in a prominent position in the centre is moving out as they have been told their rent will increase by at least 40%. And these people who are not the first since last year to have this done to them.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are closing their shared “Next” Tuesday IT section at the end of March. The reason, they say, is declining ad revenues. When the sections were combined ten years ago, there were four dedicated ad salespeople and as many dedicated journalists. Now there are none of either — no-one has been replaced as staff have left, and both editorial and sales are done by part-timers.

The section is also hidden behind the stock prices in the business section — you would never find it unless you knew it was there. A classic case of neglect — a section that used to run to eight pages or more now struggles to make a single page. None of the contributors have been officially told that the section is closing.

What do you do when there is an economic downturn and you are running short of customers? Go through your old files and try billing old customers for new services. I received an “Overdue Payment Reminder” for a service from AAPT the other day — I have not used them for seven years.

When I queried AAPT, they stated that I was still “active” on their files and that they changed the terms of dialup accounts to be $20 odd dollars a month, rather then pay as you go (which is how I used to use it in 1999). One month has ticked by … viola — I have to pay the $20. In justifying this, they claim they wrote to me in mid Dec and gave me till mid Jan to advise if I want to cancel service.

I do not remember the letter and if it did arrive, I probably treated it as Junk Mail (I am not a customer and would regard the letter as soliciting business).

I asked them, is it reasonable to:

  1. Write to someone giving them the Christmas\New Year period to respond?
  2. Charge for a service they have not received

AAPT Response: Pay up, or try your luck with the TIO.

I wonder how many punters paid the $20 because they couldn’t be bothered with the time, effort and energy taking it up with the TIO (no disrespect to them, I lodged my complaint and it was simple, fast and efficient)?

A major Sydney Waste company, which has proudly announced environmental awards it has received, has suddenly begun closing a transfer station at 1pm on Sundays. Previously this site was open until 5pm, as it is on every other day. The public were not advised of the alteration to the hours, and apart from two small stickers replacing the closing times on the sign boards on the site the only notice they were given was when the security guard closed the gate and told them to go elsewhere.

Wages and the “downturn in the economy” have been the “reasons”, but this organisation has in the past spoken of “the triple bottom line” referring to the environment as being equally important as profit. Sunday afternoon is a fairly busy time at any tip, as many homeowners have little other time go. These small customers don’t drop off tons of rubbish each, but they don’t receive any discounts, as the big garbage companies do either.

In fact many of them only pay the minimum charge. The minimum charge is $33 for about 160kgs, and so at a dollar per ton rate, they are paying much more than other major customers. They are being directed to another site about 15km away, on a road that is clogged with heavy traffic on a Sunday afternoon. Hence much more time on the road, much more fuel used by the customers, and much more pollution from all of their vehicles. And the other site was already so busy that they can hardly cope.

The public have been treated contemptuously with no explanation or warning period given at all.

Telstra subsidiary Sensis Pty Ltd cut around 200 jobs from its head office in Melbourne yesterday — but affected employees had their reporting lines deleted from the Staff Intranet BEFORE they were advised! Incredibly poorly managed. New restructure coming out next week.

There seems to be a significant cull in progress of not-for-profit providers from the new Universal Employment Services contract tender results to be announced 31 March. Most interesting about this cull are that it may include a good number of high performing (by the government’s own measures) sites, indicating perhaps the determination of the government to clean sweep the old and make way for the new.

Why would the government risk a political storm to add some of Australia’s best organisations and organisational talent to the dole queue at a time of rising unemployment just to make room for overseas and local providers like A4E employment (www.a4e.co.uk) (www.a4eaustralia.com) or even some metamorphosis of Ingeus.