I am currently holidaying throughout the private resort islands off the coast of Bintan, Indonesia. It was reported last week that the Oceanic Viking was anchored close to the resort island, Pulau Suka, which opens later this month. I took some photos that show Suka (means “sweet” in Indonesian) in relation to the Oceanic Viking.

Interestingly, Suka is about 43 kilometres (directly) from Tanjung Pinang (the capital of Bintan and location of the Indonesian refugee camp) and further away by sea. This area is somewhat remote so I’d suspect that the Oceanic Viking was deliberately parked here, away from Tanjung Pinang (or Kijang, a large port) to minimise the media glare.

I will keep you apprised of the location of the ship if it moves any time soon.

NT intervention into remote communities; Central Australia is a failed state. I read the comments by Tony Abbott on his four-day visit to Central Australia about how the government has almost certainly missed the opportunity for a new governance model in remote communities.

It is true that the presence of a commander in Major-General Chalmers was a key component in how services would be delivered through the presence of the Commonwealth at 73 locations across the NT. It is true that the NT Emergency Response initially having government business managers in place who reported to the state executive and obviously the commander/minister, was having effect in service delivery and community engagement and relationships.

Then in late 2008 and continuously since, the bureaucrats in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in Alice Springs and Darwin have been pressured to save their jobs. Also look at what hierarchy would be preserved in remote communities by pressure from the shires to ensure the Commonwealth GBMs role is downgraded. The regional FaHCSIA management now controls any of the GBMs left and many of these in Central Australia are now responsible for more than one community. Ask the residents how they feel about the amount of rationed time and effort they have in a part-time Commonwealth presence. They might just as readily deal with a Commonwealth office off location in a major town on the Stuart Highway.

This situation is about to get more confusing for remote residents when the Regional Operations Centres truly get established. In the Top End, there are 11 GBMs to be managed by a FaHCSIA manager moved over to be dedicated to the ROC. The remainder are managed by the department. In Central Australia there are two GBMs to be managed by the ROC, which is to be managed by the FaHCSIA manager already in place, who also manages the remaining GBMs. Elite GBMs versus Others?

How does governance in remote communities improve when old deck chairs are recycled? Boy, does the new state manager Dave Chalmers (formerly Major-General Dave Chalmers, operations commander NT Emergency Response) really have a job on his hands when he starts in 2010! He better be equipped for the deck chairs who have a few months of collusion up on him.

The Melbourne Cup on Tuesday has an interesting runner. Number 5 “Mourilyan” is owned by Chechen warlord and dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov is suspected of having been involved in kidnapping, torture and murder of Russian and Chechen civilians, e.g. execution of human rights campaigner Natalia Estemirova.

The prizemoney of the Melbourne Cup comprises $5.5 million. I just hope we don’t see the predictable red, green and white Islamic colours worn by Mourilyan’s jockey anywhere near the front when it comes to the final stretch of the big race.

Kadyrov has already extracted more than his fair share of royalties from Russia for Chechen oil to continue buying race horses, throwing money to his aids, and maintaining control of his doomed personal republic.

Good work on the Stirling Resources stories. Keep them coming. Interesting to learn about the connection between Kiernan and Pitcher Partners’ Bryan Hughes. I can tell you that Bryan is currently charging $540 an hour to be the administrator of Australian Zircon, before the banks, the employees entitlements and any of the creditors see a single coin.

In reference to your article on pollies at St John’s Cathedral consecration, it was interesting to watch Roman Catholics Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis take communion in an Anglican Church, right in front of Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby, who did not take communion in line with the Catholic Church’s stance that a Catholic can only take communication in a Catholic Church.

Interestingly brewery workers (who on a fortnightly basis get a free slab as part of their “entitlements”) at Foster’s want a 5% + 5% + 5% pay increase over three years. Management has offered 4% + 4% + 4% increase plus one free slab every week! Potentially someone could drink 1248 cans a year for free. That’s responsible drinking, isn’t it?

I attended a breakfast seminar on Friday morning in Perth. Michael Malone, MD from iinet, was a guest speaker, and a good one too. After he introduced himself he went on to say something along the lines of: “iinet had their 16th birthday the other day. Now Telstra can do what they have been doing to us, legally.” This drew a hearty laugh from the audience. I like the man!

Director of lobbying outfit Government Relations Australia Scott Gartrell has joined NSW Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt’s office as chief-of-staff. GRA has undertaken not to contact Gartrell for 12 months.

The Alice Betteridge School in Sydney is apparently in the process of retrenching teachers, even while fees have been increasing. There’s quite a bit of angst among parents, because it’s not clear whether their children have been getting the therapy they need at the school, and they have to come up with money for new equipment. Not a happy situation. The ABS is a private school within the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children at North Rocks in Sydney.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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