The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) in Canberra is about to announce the closure of their regional offices Australia wide and the loss of thirty jobs. The APSC is a central agency under the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing has been absorbed into a new Super Ministry called “Communities NSW”. The AHA has spent the national debt lobbying the NSW Government since poker machines were introduced into pubs across the state. What a smack in the face for them, no longer a dedicated gaming and licensing department to be seen. If they don’t recognise that they are on the outer, they need someone to give them a lesson in what being marginalised means.

The email address for all staff has been changed to There is no reference to the new arrangement on the “Communities NSW” website, just to the previous activities of the department. They will be able to invite their new friends in government down to their new offices in Macquarie Street to discuss how the industry is going.

Unfortunately the way things are going, there will not be anyone at “Communities” who will know anything about the industry.

Couldn’t lodge my tax return online as the ATO’s eTax was down over the weekend. Phoned ATO this morning and was told to try again in 24 hours.

With speculation rife about a possible John Mickel lead Labor Government in Queensland the LNP have been in lockdown for a “post-Bligh” strategy with John Mickel squarely in the crosshairs.

I work at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I call business people/farmers and badger them into returning surveys. It’s a job, what can I say. During training, we were told, with appropriate PowerPoint presentation in bold that we are not to call providers (i.e. people) “mate” or “buddy”. Obviously a very good idea thought up by people who don’t have to talk to … people.

In better news, no one pays this any attention. I mentioned this restriction to someone who’s been working the survey for 33 years (I’ve been there six weeks, ready to chew off my right ear with my middle toe) and he had no idea of this requirement.

Please appreciate the absurdity of speaking to (no insult intended, really) an illiterate 70 year old wheat farming cocky and NOT dropping the word “mate”.

Are things really so tough over at The Australian that the Investment and Financial Services Association, soon to be headed up by former NSW Liberal leader, John Brogden, has agreed to pay for the attendance of a journalist from the big national daily at IFSA’s annual conference on the Gold Coast this week? Did soon to depart IFSA chief executive, Richard Gilbert agree to fund the attendance of the Oz in a move that may offend the trade magazines paying their own way?

The Age is not the only Fairfax publication having circulation issues — we received a letter in the mail offering to swap over the last month of our Smart Investor subscription for a full year’s subscription to BRW!

It might seem like a local or even state issue, but it’s a national issue regarding big business and unions buying more rights than the average citizens. See the video of anti-democracy in Ku-ring-gai (North Shore Sydney).

Just returned from a holiday to Vietnam. All flights were booked through Qantas though most were made on Jetstar badged aircraft. I was particularly amazed at the condition of the Jetstar aircraft we used from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang and return.

One craft had a scar on the vertical stabilizer the size of a dinner plate exposing bright aluminium and a depression from being struck by something heavy and hard. The other had an area above the port side rear door where flaking paint was hidden behind a slapped on dripping coat of thick yellowish goo. Both wore very faded and stained outer paint work and the interior air vent unit of one was partially hanging loose. It was completely unconnected to the air vent system. Both aircraft had a very unloved and down at heel appearance. Probably not indicative of any serious flaws in airworthiness maintenance, but it creates a wary impression in those boarding.

Comparisons with the immaculately turned out competition, Vietnam Airways, Thai Airways etc. aircraft shows the Australian carrier in a similar light to Aeroflot of the 1970’s. If these aircraft were on domestic Australian routes I cant imagine they would be left in such a third world condition. Presumably in each case it was an aircraft that is used as a shuttle within this region, but would draw very negative comment should it appear back in Australian airspace. Is there an underlying maintenance issue for Jetstar fleet that are based offshore?

The latest from Telstra. Telstra are now going to charge their customers $2.20 to walk into a Telstra store and pay a Telstra bill! Announced via a letter signed by Ramond Gregory, Customer Sales & Service. But, no address on the letter and just a 1800 78 3558 telephone number to get lost in the Telstra call centre merry-go-round.

A call to the Telstra switchboard to talk with Ramond Gregory is greeted with a third degree and a promise that your name and details will be passed to Mr Gregory’s office. It’s like a bank charging to make a deposit to a bank account.

From their Web site:

Telstra Bill Payment Fees

Telstra offers a range of ways to pay your bill. Some of these options incur higher administration costs for Telstra so we’re introducing fees for their use.

All customers are being notified of these changes.

On and from 14 September 2009, the following fees apply:

1. Telstra will apply a $2.20 payment administration fee for each bill payment sent through the mail or made in person at a Telstra Shop or Australia Post.

2. The existing credit card payment processing fee will change:

  • MasterCard, VISA and American Express will increase from 0.69% to 1% of the payment amount, plus applicable GST.
  • Diners will increase from 1.68% to 2% of the payment amount, plus applicable GST.

If you use your credit card to pay your bill in person, both the credit card payment processing fee and payment administration fee will apply.

Exemptions may apply, including eligible pensioner concession card holders.