Which Federal Aged Care Minister was seen yesterday morning at a Melbourne cafe, two staff in tow, all three of them lighting up the fags and puffing away? Where’s the Federal Health Minister when you need her, to provide the data about the public health burden associated with smoking? Tut tut, Minister. And with that French manicure, how do you handle the computer, blackberry, and paperwork?

McCann Erickson has been appointed to handle the federal ALP’s re-election bid. Jonathon Brown, one of the creative directors assigned to the account is son of former MP John Brown.

British MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will fly into Cairns tonight (being Tuesday night) to attend the Pacific Island Forums. He will visit the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah, some 40-odd kms south of Cairns. The town has one of the highest unemployment populations in the country and is the only Aboriginal community in Queensland where CDEP was scrapped — and the community is furious. Rumour is his Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council tour guides are planning will give him the grand tour during the MPs rushed trip (he’ll be there between 0900-1000), humpies, shacks and all.

The corridors at the ABC in Ultimo are reverberating at the news of Courtney Gibson’s resignation as Head Of Creative Content and her departure to production house Southern Star. Ms Gibson was the overseer of the contentious “Make A Wish” episode of the The Chaser which saw the demotion of Head of Entertainment and Comedy, Amanda Duthie, an issue taken up by the union. Mark Scott said the skit should have been “upwardly referred”.

The problem, as Amanda Meade noted in The Australian, was that it was upwardly referred to Ms Gibson who did receive a copy of the offending skit but didn’t get around to looking at it before it went to air. So the press release quoting Head Of Television, Kim Dalton saying Ms Gibson had “an insatiable appetite for hard work and lives for television” drips with irony. So did Mark Scott finally show some backbone and give her the push or did she see the writing on the wall?

Has Mark Scott finally realised that all is not well in ABC Television with some big questions to be asked of its programming decisions and its commissioning?

Two things Myer will need to do before they float the business. Demonstrate significant sales growth, and report comp or like-for-like sales growth, which they currently do not do.

Despite announcing a single digit increase for the current period, Myer’s compound sales growth since they took over the business 39 months ago is hovering at about minus one per cent, when adjusted for inflation etc, and when store openings, renovations and closures are taken into account. All profit growth has been driven by business efficiency initiatives (i.e., cutting the Coles Myer fat and other excesses), savage staff cuts and NOT sales growth.

Serious market watchers will be very nervous about a business that has not been able to demonstrate ongoing and sustainable sales growth — and remember the latest results are on the back of a significant sales decline last year. The other thing Myer needs to do is report accurate comparative sales figures, which include store openings, closures and renovations. Often Myer’s top line and comparative sales figures are the same, which cannot be possible given the number of stores they have opened in the past 39 months, and when major closures or renovations (Doncaster was closed last year and Myer Melbourne — a $300 million turnover store— remains half closed).

It will all make for a very interesting data room when the float process starts.

V Australia not going ahead with MEL direct LAX v.v at this time. Earliest will now be December. New destination by end of the year.

As someone who has to compile the data for the “Employer of Choice” Award for another govt body, I can vouch for much of the commentary about University of Melbourne. Whilst pay equity through the various grades is one of the criteria, the one that usually does most universities in is the measure of pay equity across the board. This is an average salary by gender which does not take into account pay levels at the various grades/levels, so a company that pays equitably at each level in the organisation can still be tripped up by having too many males compared to females at senior levels.

As Executive Level positions account for such a small group of staff, the problem actually lies in the senior academic levels which are predominantly peopled by WASP males, recruited to academia in the 60’s and 70’s when ratios were male dominated. This is largely true of all but a few universities in Australia.

Further, the demographics of the entire university sector are about five years or so ahead of the Australian population (that is, five years older) and consequently facing the demographic squeeze earlier than other industries. A lot of universities who have this award scraped in by the skin of their teeth. Worse still, the criteria for EOCFW have been designed with corporates and govt dept more in mind, and consequently measure some criteria which would be reasonably considered “arbitrary”.

For instance, academic managers are deemed to include anyone at Senior Lecturer level and above. While it may sound reasonable in one sense, academic grade is not a measure of being a “manager”. The criteria are a moving feast as well, just in case you didn’t think it was difficult enough.

All up, the award is a bit of a crap shoot, and my dealings with this leave me with the impression that statistical analysis does not represent a strong point in the Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Agency.

Morningstar Global has just banned Facebook and the Australian Office is not happy, apparently there in-house stats claim Facebook was the most surfed website, SMH coming 2nd.

Under pressure from developers, Ku-ring-gai council has reportedly told a community group it will fine the group $100,000 within days unless the community group removes signs opposing high rise in Ku-ring-gai.

Hot on the heels of the other new Telstra charges (cash payments at both Telstra shops and Post Offices, and increased credit card charges), Telstra is about to hit you with a monthly charge for receiving a printed invoice. While the banks are slowly dropping their outrageous fees, it appears that Telstra wants to take over as Australia’s most over charging company! Gee, it is going to get really expensive to pay your paper bill at a Telstra shop by credit card soon!

Peter Fray

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