The real boat people story is that the Navy tried to turn the boat around using prescribed tactical manoeuvres. The illegals then doused the deck of their vessel with fuel and proceeded to ignite the deck of the vessel so that the Navy would be forced to evacuate them giving them safe haven. Navy continued to observe, there was an explosion … the rest is known.

The Immigration Department is broke. The Systems for People project has blown out and cost the Department twice the amount in which was originally budgeted. The use of Boston Consulting firm is crippling the Department which is in more of a crisis now then in its lowest point after Palmer, Comrie and Ombudsman Parliamentary review. What happened to the $50M College of Immigration initiative coming out of the Palmer Inquiry? Palmer 022 establishment of a College of Immigration. Where is the College and where is the money? Australia is a soft target for boat people because the Department of Immigration is overspent and overextended. The Department is haemorrhaging internally and would be insolvent if it were a publicly listed company. Having worked at the Department for six years I can say with authority it is mayhem and chaos on a daily basis, the money from Palmer/Comrie era has dried up and the Executive have squandered money and now Australia has again been left to foot the bill through an influx in boat people.

Emirates is warning its staff at Sydney Airport who, amidst job uncertainty, are considering joining the union, that if they do, they will wreck their chances of promotion within the company. I thought that it was illegal to threaten workers for wanting to join a union?

On Friday I went to Domayne in Melbourne’s CBD where they have a big (person sized) freestanding cardboard sign advertising a special ANZAC DAY sale (with 10% of selected bedding or some other such drivel…) but what made it worse is the use of a digger in uniform (sepia toned, of course) and the Shrine … next to a product shot of the sale items. Thought it was surprisingly tactless when I passed it, now it looks downright illegal.

The Good Weekend has shrunk to 40 pages (twice that a few years ago when it had a bigger format) and staff hacks are (re) writing web pages for “travel articles” in the Life & Leisure supplement — because they can’t afford freelancers until next FY, if ever.

A door to door salesperson offered me six months of the Sydney Morning Herald. Delivered six days per week for $2.50pw. So a delivery fee and the newspapers free. I also saw a free unattended newsstand in the foyer of North Sydney Building on Friday afternoon offering The Australian.

The Sunday Sun-Herald will clearly accept an insert from anyone who pays — even if the information contained in the insert is several months out of date. Sunday’s paper contained a Great Ocean Road promotional pamphlet that was clearly printed at least five months ago. Each section encouraged readers to attend events in January 2009, February 2009, March 2009 and so on. The fact it is almost May clearly eluded the Sun-Herald marketing department, who are happy to foist any old (paid for) rubbish on their readers.

I recently phoned the Pacific Film and Television Commission and requested a meeting to discuss two well developed documentary series ideas plus a feature doco proposal.

I assumed that I could, at the very least, come in to talk about this slate of work prior to taking it to the Sydney broadcasters. But no. It turned out that there are no longer meeting facilities at the PFTC. When pushed, I was told that the meeting room still exists but that it wasn’t for outsiders, only for internal PFTC staff meetings. The conversation stalled, faltered in some kind of disbelief that I would expect engagement or feedback.

There is little faith that the PFTC has the knowledgeable staff or the willingness to support documentary filmmakers, except if the filmmaker arrives on the door step with a presale or letter of interest, i.e. all the hard work done. What type of film funding body discourages contact at such a critical stage of project development, why is it that the PFTC lacks professional doco advice for the very community it is supposed to represent? When will we be able to pick up the phone, arrange a meeting and get a positive response?

Australia’s most avid yowie man would have to be Rex Gilroy, a dedicated crypto-zoologist who started his searches in the 1970s. In 1985 was the subject of ABC TV’s Big Country. His museum at Windsor, NSW, had several plaster casts of the beast’s footprints. Rex was also convinced he saw a Tasmanian tiger, thylacine, crossing the Western Highway at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. Check him out here.

Peter Fray

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