The machinations in Queensland politics continue with the Premier feeling the political heat. Premier Bligh yesterday announced her infrastructure tour of regional Queensland in an attempt to turn around her flagging political fortunes. In recent days the Premiers’ office has been working individual unions hard, calling in old favours, squeezing vulnerable union groupings, looking to undermine the proposed Queensland Council of Unions anti privatisation campaign before the QCU Executive meeting on 25th August. Insiders believe the Premier now has the numbers to roll blue collar affiliates and kill off the QCU campaign before it begins. The charge is being led by the Australian Services Union, a group that has pledged their undying allegiance to the Premier. Other blue collar unions are being wedged into also accepting Premier Bligh’s line through a mix of threats to the cancellation of infrastructure projects and threats to previous factional deals that will allow some union leaders to sit on the parliamentary leather later this year

Meetings of likeminded unions has been occurring across the south east in the lead up to tomorrows QCU meeting, Bligh is likely to turn around the dissent within union ranks and prevent what was shaping up as a damaging campaign before its scheduled commencement next month.

On my way home late yesterday evening I stopped at one of the CommBank teller machines inside Wynyard station in Sydney to get some cash for my business trip tomorrow. I inserted my trusty CommBank EFTPOS card into the slot … nothing … the welcome screen continued to cycle. I started to sweat. I have plenty of cash in my account. No reason for the teller machine not to display the log-on screen. Then … the WINDOWS BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!

The ATM application had crashed. After a minute (it could have been an hour, I was in shock) it started to reboot. WINDOWS XP! Australian’s largest financial institution runs its ATM network on Windows f-cking XP! Goodness knows how many thousands of ATMs around the country … a gazillion EFTPOS transactions each month totalling many, many hundreds of millions of dollars entrusted to WINDOWS XP! Will someone please alert ASIO! Call the producers at Border Security! Tell the AFP to stop sabotaging people smuggling boats in Indonesia! The real enemy is within.

It’s not Al Qaeda or the Maltese lady with the dodgy salami at Sydney airport that is going to bring down our social order, but a bunch of bankers. If someone had asked me, I would have said that the CommBank had a world class, bullet-proof, ridgy-didge, Unix-type, mil-spec, unbreakable, custom built operating system for its mission-critical nationwide ATM network. Yes siree. CommBank makes $4B in profits each year. They can afford the best IT system in the goddam world, folks. No way! Windows f-cking XP?

Oh for crissake, we need action. Someone should call a parliamentary inquiry, no wait — call a Royal Commission. Yeah, let’s get a retired judge on to the case. More SAS troops to Afghanistan? Bullsh-t. They should be rappelling out of those Blackhawks that keep buzzing my office building and storming the executive suite of the CommBank bunker in Martin Place.

And while they’re at it they can bloody well retrieve my EFTPOS card.

A good example of dubious pro bono work in the name of “helping” Aborigines is the 2008 case of Aboriginal Legal Service of WA v Lawrence [2008] WASCA 254. This followed an initial case in the Commission and an appeal to the Full Bench of the Commission. Here a large national commercial legal firm fought to establish that the ALS was a constitutional corporation, and hence legally able to sack its employees without them having ANY legal recourse to the WA Industrial Relations Commission. They lost all three cases. All that work must have given their lawyers a nice warm inner glow!

WIPRO has been selected as the preferred outsourcer for Foster’s Group.

Possible missed approach at Kingsford-Smith: I was travelling along Southern Cross drive (heading North) at about 6:25am today (25th August). There was a Qantas jet on approach to the north-south runway. I quickly looked to my left after it had passed overhead to see touchdown and I swear that it was shooting back into the sky. I did a double take and was wondering did I just see a missed approach.

After reading yesterday’s Crikey and some of the IT troubles of Qantas, I feel like I should add to the perspective from the customer. As a weekly commuter between two capitals on the east coast, I have nearly seen every IT failure Qantas has to offer. Last Wednesday while trying to book a trip online the website was down. Then on Thursday night I tried online checking for my Friday evening flight and the online checking was down, but the site was up. The website was then down all day Friday in total. Arriving at Sydney airport on Friday evening, it was near pandemonium as the booking and seating systems were down “worldwide” according to one of the many frustrated staff. Repeated announcements were made for people to sit and wait whilst they tried to sort out the mess. And this is on top of the automated email system that routinely advises me to “Prepare for my upcoming flight” hours after it has already completed.

If they are indeed rethinking their outsourcing strategy, please let it be quick and spare us all.

While our media is very keen to suggest that the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al Megrahi on compassionate grounds might have been “political” there is no inkling here that the consideration may have been more to do with what might have come out had al Megrahi’s appeal gone to court. The guilty verdict is regarded by some legal experts to be unsound and a condition of release may have been that he drop the appeal lest it be revealed that al Megrahi was the fall guy whose conviction obscured a wholly different scenario — and that intelligence agencies were complicit in the cover-up. The current issue of Private Eye has the details.

Peter Fray

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