I found an interesting listing on the government procurement website ” Austender” today:

Calls for submission are sought for: “Construction of the actual Tally Board and other structures within the National Tally Room that will act as focal point and backdrop as required for a large media and public presence on election night.

Work will entail, amongst other things, the provision of a project manager, the preparation of updated technical drawings for the Tally Board, transport of a large quantity of timber building materials from store, the inspection of all materials and procurement and replacement as necessary to ensure structural soundness, the construction of a 35m x 7m structure that will form the Tally Board, along with a stage, artificial floor and desks for the media.

Work also includes the dismantling and return to store or otherwise, of all material, along with any make-good requirements, on completion of the election event.

All work to be undertaken under extremely tight timeframes with minimal notice of commencement.

Seems a tad early … or do you think the PM is preparing to “make good” the double dissolution threat?

Is the Liberal Party planning to harden up its immigration policies? Word is that Shadow Immigration Minister Sharman Stone has hired a new adviser — Ruddock’s former chief of staff, Ann Duffield. Interestingly, Duffield is still listed as a real estate agent on Allhomes so perhaps she’s been lured back recently.

The new limits on concessional super contributions don’t just affect salary sacrifice contributions but company contributions as well. The media spin has been around limits on salary sacrifice for super BUT company contributions are included in the limit as well. So let me get this right — we pay more to pensioners BUT at the expense of those who can and want to save for their own retirement?

For someone under 50 who really wants to put as much away for their retirement limits of $25,000 a year are plain stupid. Why would someone who wants to contribute over $25K a year do so if they will be slugged 15% super tax PLUS an extra 31.5% tax — effectively the highest tax rate? You may as well get it paid as cash at your marginal rate and invest it elsewhere. What sort of dumb logic is this?

Bureaucracy gone mad at the Italian consulate in Melbourne. Receptionist only speaks Italian so bad luck to the Aussie Italians who only speak English: “I don’t understand English”, she said in Italian to some unwitting young blokes. Marriage certificates in English need to be translated into Italian before they can be accepted as evidence of identity even if the parties were married here and have submitted the certificate in English for previous passport applications. The staff works from 9am to noon each day and no more.

So much for St George Bank being more friendly than the Big Four. Recently my credit card payment was a week overdue. During that time I received a number of calls to my office and mobile phone from St George employees pressuring me as to when I would be making a payment. In one case, the call interrupted a business meeting. When I said I couldn’t speak, he warned me that he would keep calling back. To another of the callers I expressed surprise that I was being pursued so aggressively for being just one week overdue and for a couple of hundred dollars.

I was told that St George now starts following up when credit card payments are one day overdue. Seems pretty rough given they also charge a $35 late fee. I have most of my accounts with St George and was considering swapping my home loan to them as well. Now I plan to shift my business to another bank or building society.

It seems unfair that Irish professionals coming to work on 457 visas are getting their salaries packaged by recruiters like Free Spirit in Canberra in such a way that they claim Living Away from Home Allowances. This then significantly reduces their taxable income and makes them eligible for the cash handouts. It strikes me as immoral that someone at a leading investment bank (begins with an M) earning $100,000+ benefits in this way. With some 74% of the public against cash handouts why isn’t the government cracking down on ‘rorts’ like this? If Rudd really wanted to boost the economy why not invest more in apprenticeships for young Australians.

My wife teaches at a local public primary school. On Thursday the kids sat their NAPLAN test. Apart from the fact that the teachers instruction sheet said “40 minutes” while the front of the test paper said “50” minutes and the practice questions were on the back page, the teachers amused them selves by going through the papers and finding all the spelling mistakes — 15 in all. So this is Federal Education?

I can confirm that they are giving away 100 plus copies of The Australian at Gold Fields House at Circular Quay in Sydney every morning. When the giveaways started a couple of weeks ago, the friendly security woman on the front desk asked workers in the building to take one from the metal stand so thoughtfully located on the way to the lifts.

The Australian even advertises on the digital TV panels in the liftwell. Surely anybody who was buying a copy on the way to work would be mad to continue the practice. It can only reduce the newspaper’s value to readers and I’m sure the newsagents on the way to our building aren’t happy.

Have you seen the groups popping up on Facebook claiming to “support Matthew Johns“? Nearly 65,000 members. Are there other ones that “Support Clare”? I hope so.

On Friday I received the nominations for the Sharks Football Club Board of Directors in the mail — weren’t the Chairman and some of the other board members around in 2002? Why wouldn’t there be any women nominated for the Board? Believe it or not the Sydney Swans actually have a woman on the Board and it hasn’t seemed to hurt them.

NRL footy player dolls are now in the bargain bin at Toys R Us:

And meanwhile in a flying saucer hovering over the grassy knoll: If you follow all the Queensland based media about water fluoridation, you’ll see the recent Courier Mail article claiming the Queensland Government cannot be sued for health problems residents suffer due to fluoridation of the water supply. Take a good look at the Water Fluoridation Act 2008. Not sure the government as a whole cannot be sued. I personally — and several people I know — have spent thousands of dollars since fluoridation was introduced being tested by numerous specialists to determine why this sudden onset of gastritis and development of H Pylori infection has occurred.

Naturopaths are the only ones willing to guess it’s due to the fluoridation (timing was spot on, and since I’ve stopped drinking the water, problems have diminished). This entire issue is something Captain Bligh should not be allowed to gloss over. And 20 times the allowable dose in the water supply, and she takes two weeks to tell residents?

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW