5000 high rise and other apartments have been approved already in Ku-ring-gai and a further 15,000 await final approval from NSW Planning Minister Keneally — following a near riot of over 900 Ku-ring-gai residents who witnessed the Government appointed Planning Panel rubber stamp the over-development plan. With the looming over-supply of apartments rumour has it the NSW Housing Commission has set up a group to allocate several billion dollars to buy apartment development projects and help out failed builders. An interesting act of urban vandalism saved by tax payer funds.

Victoria’s prosecuting agencies (OPP, CDPP, ASIC, RSPCA, you name it) are in the middle of a conference on the introduction of the Uniform Evidence Act. Before beginning his afternoon session, crown prosecutor Chris Beale decided to tell an Irish joke. “What does that have to do with ‘admissions’? Nothing,” he said. “I just thought I’d lighten the mood by implying that people of a particular nationality are stupid and backward,” he might have added. The DPP, Jeremy Rapke, was sitting in the front row. I wonder if he laughed? I wonder would he have laughed if it was a Jewish joke instead?

Further to your story about outsourcing to Pagemasters by Fairfax, they have made 11 more people redundant and their work will be done in Brisbane by Pagemasters. The people they have made redundant are the photo library workers and the database production team who archive all the news stories. The data is sent to places such as Factiva and Lexis Nexis who pay a lot to get the data. The F2 website also uses the data. They have kept one “photo specialist”. They are keeping the manager of the database production team to get Pagemasters up and running. For what it is worth many of these people have been loyal employees for many years.

Head of Arts, Entetainment and Comedy Amanda Duthie’s “demotion” — she has lost the “and Comedy” bit from her title as punishment for OKing the Chaser’s sick kiddies sketch — is nothing of the sort. Duthie remains in her position, with same job level and will probably continue to oversee comedy production, now that Content head (for all of ABC TV save for news and current affairs) Courtney Gibson is acting “head of comedy”.

Indeed the “comedy” and “entertainment” distinction is a scholastic one — sketch/stunt shows like the Chaser can go under either remit. They have been split up before — in the 90s, when Kath and Kim‘s producers refused to work for the then Comedy-Ent head, and were shunted through Drama, which eventually took over all scripted comedy.

The entire episode is an absurd over-reaction to what everyone agrees was an error of judgement. Management should have held the line, acknowledged the error, and kept on — they shouldn’t even have suspended the Chaser, though the show obviously has some poblems in generating good material, one of the reasons why the kiddies sketch got used.

Never mind. The new exec producer in there is Greg Dee, famous for creating Blokesworld. So mature and learned judgement has arrived on the scene.

The ABC has a novel way of making up for shortfall in its news and current affairs stories. It just plagiarises itself by playing old stories in their entirety as was the case on today’s The World Today (broadcast on Local Radio and Radio National networks). Ashley Hall’s two minute (plus) piece about how threats to the failure of existing GPS satellites may hinder the replacement of printed maps by GPS and Google was broadcast once already last week.

Do they think we don’t notice or don’t care?

The Australian has hit new lows — cold calling. On Tuesday night, a man who identified himself as working for The Australian called me in Adelaide and asked if I read said newspaper. I said yes. He asked if I was a subscriber. I said no. He then proceeded to try to sell me a subscription. And I said no. I must say, the man who called was very polite. Pity about the cold calling concept and the timing of the call – 7pm and spaghetti bolognese on the table. New sales pitch or desperate attempt to maintain circulation?

Ventracor to make a comeback? Adam Schwab wrote: “In March, Ventracor was placed in administration by its directors. 17,500 mostly small shareholders will most likely lose their entire holdings. At its peak, Ventracor boasted a market worth of almost $1 billion.” The investment arm of a significant OPEC country is actively seeking involvement as a cornerstone investor to refloat Ventracor but are being actively discouraged by the administrator who is still aiming at a $10m fire sale of assets to US rival Orqis.

Apparently the reason they were/are doing renovations to the Queensland Performing Arts Complex (QPAC) is because there is asbestos in the roof. Also it’s just an ugly building…

“A valid conclusion is that NIB is not as good a proposition for your health cover as HCF ” — as suggested by a Crikey tipster yesterday. But those in HCF had better hope they never need any help in the psychological department, as even those on the “top” rate (Super Multicover) who apparently qualify for $600 in counselling costs still have to get 12 to 18 sessions under the Medicare mental health plan (item #2710) FIRST! Yep, that’s right.

So despite paying top dollar for their health care, people who sign up for the Medicare plan will forever be under the microscope by insurance companies who will have access to their records should they try to get income protection insurance or any other cover which may question their mental fitness. This is despite the Federal Government bringing in the legislation in 1 November 2006 to “provide assistance to people living with a mental illness and to their families, allowing them greater access to psychologists and providing more affordable mental healthcare”.

So, you pay top dollar to a private health fund, are refunded 30% of the fees (thanks taxpayer!) and still have the taxpayer fund your first 12 to 18 sessions (wow!) before you can claim what you paid for in the first place. All HCF members had better hope that they or no-one in their family ever needs counselling for such unusual complaints as bereavement, drug/alcohol issues, eating disorders or even those tried and true ones such as anxiety and stress. Otherwise they’ll have it on their medical record for posterity.