I have been advised that the Queensland State Government is terminating all casual staff by the end of 30th June 2009.

In the hundreds of transcripts issued by the Prime Minister’s office, yesterday’s interview where he received a carpeting from Neil Mitchell on 3AW for breaking a raft of election promises with the 2009 Budget is curiously missing.

Network Ten must have turned things around, with all the cost cutting and staff being asked to take time off, they can still afford a season long corporate suite at Suncorp Stadium for the Super 14 Rugby season that is televised by the opposition.

I believe the woman in the Four Corners story has a civil claim for damages. A criminal case would not succeed because of the preponderance of witnesses saying she consented. But a civil case is very different. Whether she originally consented or not, if she suffered damage, whether mental or physical, she has a claim for damages.

Defence must be really struggling to put subs to sea. On the cover of the White Paper the two rear subs have obviously been photoshopped in.

The planned National Curriculum into which quite a bit of money has been invested by the government (establishing National Curriculum Board now the formation of ACARA — Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) in the curriculum areas of English, Maths, Science and History apparently will not be mandated as compulsory to all the states.

In the recent documents, it is only in the Maths paper where it is stated that the National Curriculum for Maths will be compulsory for all students. Whilst it is assumed that English will be, the Science and History papers do not make any reference as to how this will be implemented. It’s fairly ridiculous for the department to be saying that they will be making this “world-class” curriculum when it won’t be mandated for all Australian students (one of their biggest arguments is that a national curriculum is good for transient students and that students should be working to common standards).

Of course, with Education handled by the states this is virtually impossible unless, of course, the federal government tied state funding to the implementation of the curriculum at state level. Writers are being briefed this week and when the History and Science writers pressed the board for more information about mandated hours and testing etc it became clear that for at least science and history the National Curriculum document being developed was indeed not going to be compulsory — only “on offer”. The states with all of their separate curricula, despite whether they say they are supporting the curriculum will legally be under no compulsion to mandate the National Curriculum in their state/territory.

The result will be disastrous — especially in post compulsory years and for the fact that assessment hasn’t even been decided upon. Apparently, writers have been told to direct all queries back to the ACARA (formally NCB) I just find that this is a farcical way to ‘move forward’ and will be an unmitigated disaster if they invest this time and money into programs that wont be implemented.

Framing documents can be downloaded here and the bill for establishing ACARA is here.

South Australian Labor Health Minister, John Hill, finished his Ministerial Statement delivered to the South Australian Parliament on Wednesday with “I have no idea what you are saying, Vickie, but you are scum.” He was of course referring to Opposition Health Spokeswoman, Vickie Chapman.

Lots of head scratching at the process being undertaken in finding a replacement for Steve Ahern, the former Head of Radio at AFTRS. Seems that several qualified applicants have receive the “Thanks but no thanks note” without an interview being offered. Story goes that they had a preferred applicant who wasn’t interested. Meanwhile head-hunters continue to call people to gauge interest. Concern is mounting that AFTRS chief, Sandra Levy, has someone in mind and is exhausting the process before pulling her favourite out of the hat. The position is worth about $155,000 including a car. However any external consulting and other outside work will not be allowed. .It is a complicated post demanding radio experience and teaching/curriculum experience. Perhaps they should peruse the initial applicants again … if they are still around.

I just bought a round of icecreams for my team at work — Bulla’s “Crunch” three flavour pack. We all swear they are around 15% smaller than last time we ate them, yet the price is the same. Is this standard practice in a downturn? Companies have tried this on in the past, calling it the least noticable difference, but this is a joke. Looks like Cadbury are not the only ones cutting down on value for money.

NAB has recently distributed new Qantas frequent flyer credit cards duplicating previous Master Card and Visa Cards with a companion Amex card. Thus, instead of one each NAB Master Card and Visa card, I now have two each — that is four credit cards (plus of course, the old ones which I assume are still valid). The PINs were sent later by separate mail to the same address.

But wait, it gets worse. Every person who has had a subsidiary to my Visa card has also been issued with a Visa and Amex card. During my serial monogamistic life I have managed to gather a former wife and a former partner, who operated subsidiary cards up to fourteen years ago. They also have been issued with a Visa and an Amex Card.

Fortunately their postal address was the same as mine, and I have received “their” cards and PIN’s into my P O Box. Also fortunately, I have managed to retain the friendship of these two women, so no damage has been done. I can only imagine the potential credit carnage out there as spurned subsidiary carded women vent their fury on their disgraced previous partners by spending up large on these new cards.

My understanding is that the primary card-holder is responsible for debts run up by subsidiary card holders. But should the NAB be mailing out credit cards and PINs to people who haven’t operated that card for up to at least 14 years ago?

I saw the following story on the website of The Australian and couldn’t help but email you to give some insight into the “circulation spike” in my particular part of the world. For the past six weeks or so, a stack of at least 200 to 300 copies of The Oz is strategically placed outside the lifts in my building in Collins Street Melbourne — left for all comers to grab for free. The pile of papers gets bigger as “circulation” goes up.

I am pretty sure I’m not in the only building in Melbourne or Sydney where The Oz is being handed out like a commuter rag. I know everyone in my office is now an avid Oz reader, but I can assure you that no-one would be prepared to pay for a copy.

If the Oz did this in a hundred buildings alone, the circulation magically goes up by at least 20,000 each day — a little disingenuous in my humble opinion.

If this approach has indeed led to an increase in “sales” then Janet Albrechtsen is a Marxist.

By the way, for anyone at Crikey who wants a free copy, just come up to my building on the corner of Collins and William and you’ll find as many as you like at the lifts.

Superannuation Contributions. The tracking of concessional/non concessional contributions cap by the ATO is an almighty stuff up. The ATO have used the taxpayers’ personal return, combined with the Super Fund return to “double up” the concessional amounts. The Super fund return member details completion section is as vague as all hell, and results in amendments. No electronic version of amendments is possible, making the agent MANUALLY complete the Super Fund return all over again.

Excess contributions tax assessments are being issued as we speak, many of them wrong! After ringing the ATO super helpline, the staff were very very well versed on the response, quoting NAT numbers for amended return forms etc. Typical the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and in the end the client pays for it. A case of the person designing the form having no idea how it reads to tax agent!!! Being back the surcharge forms I say!

Further to the superannuation excess contributions assessment — look at how to amend — it refers you to the page you are already on to make the amendment? Oh errr duh?

Commendable as is Chris Warren’s campaign seeking shield laws for journalists, he is on shaky ground comparing them to psychiatrists protecting client confidentiality. There is in fact, legally no such thing when it comes to medical records. It is a simple process for legal adversaries to subpoena medical records, which are no treated no differently to any other documents or information that is demanded as part of the discovery process in a court case. Just ask anyone who has been dragged through the Family Court, where this procedure is routine.

My daughter in Year 3 attends a Catholic primary school. Today they sat their NAPLAN numeracy test. After the test, my daughter and many of her classmates were individually called into the Principal’s office, where he offered them the chance to correct wrong answers, and helpfully suggested the correct ones. Trying to improve the schools performance (and improve his career prospects)? Not a great demonstration of Catholic values to his young charges. We’d rather he improved the school’s performance by getting rid of a couple of dud teachers.

From the grassy knoll: Canberra Geneticist intimates that the viral sequences of swine flu show evidence of laboratory cultivation. Global Research early in the swine flu episode published that US Gene Labs had been looking for lost samples, and that the British High Court had demanded Information on torture of their Guantanamo Bay detained citizen just days prior. As they noted swine flu stole the show! Lucky for Cheney and co.

The WHO didn’t seem to go public on any of that. Now this naive tamiflu creating boffin wants to trace it into the labs? He’d have to be retired and comfortable or else he wouldn’t dare compromise his future. With Anthrax, Foot and Mouth and horse flu all sharing the heritage of phylloxera, (introduced by the laboratory storm troopers), who would cry him wrong. Still, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any gene labs nor WHO to take responsibility.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey