Word around Macquarie St is Housing Minister David Borger is none too happy with being dropped in the poo over the Dennis Ferguson issue (his department housed the infamous paedophile). Apparently, after he was briefed by department staff about how legally next to nothing could be done, a junior hack from the Premier’s media team came storming into his office and demanded he ignore everything and order the immediate removal of said tenant. Well, if that is what the Daily Tele wants … So the Minister faithfully follows the advice from Premiers … making him look like a fool.

The Star City Casino has yet again convinced the New South Wales Government that it should be treated differently to clubs and pubs. Not content with an exemption from the indoor smoking ban, the casino also enjoys a tax rate on its 1500 poker machines, which is barely half that of other pokie venues. Star City is not required to issue a cheque when you cash out, a rule applied to the clubs and pubs. Perhaps the biggest joke of all is that the casino’s pokies run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Clubs and pubs must shut down their pokies for six hours every day.

Now, Star City has convinced the government that despite being the fourth most dangerous venue in NSW, the casino won’t have to obey a ban on serving glass or other safety measures placed upon other licensed venues. Tabcorp management made a series of urgent phone calls to ALP headquarters as soon as the SMH revealed the casino was set to be banned from serving glass after midnight and would be unable to accept punters after 2am.

Being a huge donor to the ALP, the problem has now been fixed, and Star Casino will continue to operate free of any of the alcohol restrictions that have been placed on virtually all its CBD competitors. Tabcorp shareholders can breathe a sigh of relief.

Yesterday, a press release from Medicines Australia (MA) announced the resignation of its CEO, Ian Chalmers. MA is the local industry association for multi-national pharmaceutical companies. MA chairman Will Delaat paid tribute to Chalmers’ achievements. What the press release didn’t say was that Chalmers was forced out by the MA Board.

This was because a group of industry CEOs imported from the US.were unhappy with Chalmers’ pragmatic support of Australian Medicines Policy. Unlike the US, Oz policy espouses equitable and affordable access to necessary drugs (our PBS) as well as a viable and responsible pharmaceutical industry.

The former policy is clearly anathema to US Pharma executives who believe the market should pay whatever they charge. The irony is that, under President Obama, even the US is heading towards an Oz-style medicines policy. Clearly, Yank Pharma CEOs are troglodytes!

In conclusion, one must have sympathy for the CEO of an organisation trying to work with an aggressive board and members having such self-serving views of the world! Presumably, new applicants for the MA CEO’s job will now ask for a large salary increase to compensate for the pressures the job involves.

So much for no staffing crisis in Air Traffic Control. As a direct result of reactionary panic management that Airservices Australia is famous for, all previously approved leave has been cancelled in Sydney from September 19 until December 18. Three months with no leave available to any controller; with three days’ notice. Controllers already on leave have to return to new rostered duty.

To add insult to injury, expect rostered compulsory overtime for days off (sic). If you thought the delays last Sunday were bad, well “you ain’t seen nothing yet” as the only fight back that controllers have will have serious effects on us all.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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