Andrew Twiggy Forrest has been bopping around the Pilbara with a few journos in tow, someone from The Australian and someone from the SMH. Some “exclusives” coming up perhaps? Is the story Twiggy spinning news or more of the same old spiel? Anything to do with the BHP-Billiton-Rio Tinto iron ore joint venture that is due to be tied up by this Saturday?

Several representatives of the Australian army are in Phnom Penh this week, staying at the lovely Villa Langka Hotel.They have $45 rooms, which are the cheapest available but they are not happy — they say that the rooms are too small. They had booked for another five nights for their return to Phnom Penh next month but they have now cancelled.

There are also nine members of the US Special Forces in the hotel at the moment and they have no problem at all with the accommodation. The Villa Langka has a beautiful pool, colonial-style rooms, it is in a picturesque location and has terrific French food.

Castle Towers — the biggest (in turnover) shopping centre in Australia — is now without a bookshop. This from Dymocks head office:

Dear Supplier

We regret to advise that Dymocks Castle Hill entered into liquidation on 10 November 2009. The store had been part of the Dymocks network for over 20 years. Despite our efforts to preserve the site for the Dymocks network the site reverted back to the landlord, QIC, and a new tenant was found for the site by the landlord. The store has been trading for a short period after the liquidation in order to clear stock but is expected to close permanently by the end of this month. We all wish Tom & Fiona and their families the very best for the future and thank them for their past efforts.

There were two bookshops, Unleash (formerly a Collins Bookshop) packed up its tent and disappeared several months ago.  You have the choice of David Jones, Myer, Kmart or Target.  None of these have what might be called a depth of choice or wide range.

Re. Your story about a so-called DLP candidate running in Higgins. Mulholland is really being supported by the National Civic Council. At its end-of-year breakfast and book launch last Saturday (Labour and Justice by Gavan Duffy and launched by  Joseph Santamaria, QC) a form “Stop the Greens in Higgins” was launched by NCC president Peter Westmore. The form asked for volunteers to man polling booths this Saturday in Higgins. The NCC feels that a Green candidate could get up, either in Higgins or Bradfield and that the Greens policies are not only bad on climate change/ETS but also on abortion and euthanasia and that Kelly O’Dwyer is pro-family and pro-life.

The new Victorian ticketing system, MYKI, launches tomorrow.  Problems (card readers that don’t work, wrong fares, excessive time to swipe the card, trams seem not fully connected to network) are well covered by the various blogs but putting money on the card takes at least 24 hours when the system’s working.  Most times it takes more like a week or not at all.  Oh and after launching it (and screaming some more at any one who happens to be in front of her at the time), Lynne Kosky will go on holidays and leave the shitfight to Tim Pallas.  Another job well done, Lynne.

Some union leaders have been quietly fuming at the role corporate lobbyists CPR have been playing in the election of a new ACTU president. Rumour is they’re sticking their nose into internal union business and backing Ged Kearney’s candidacy. Seems the ex-ALP apparatchiks in CPR — such as Tim Gartrell who’s now heading up CPR’s research arm Auspoll — can’t help but do the numbers, setting up meetings between union leaders and Kearney, the current ANF national secretary.

Questions are being asked about exactly what the ANF is paying CPR for and if member’s funds are being spent in the presidential bid. The fact that former-CPR staffer Sue Bellino is now working for the ANF has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Judging by some push-polling at the weekend you can brace yourselves for a media announcement from Australia’s oil explorers decrying the lack of government financial incentives. Woolcott Research is undertaking the poll. Given that the questions are heavily slanted to show strong public support for the oil industry’s claims, the media and government shouldn’t appear overly surprised when the media release lands on their desks.  Here’s a tip — ask to see the methodology including the questions. That’ll put the whole survey into its proper perspective.

Typical of Alice Springs. A strange place. The Alice Springs Town Council has just passed its controversial bylaws in regards to causing a nuisance in Alice Springs. They cover many behaviour in public such as advertising, protesting and alcohol consumption. It was quoted in the Centralian Advocate (1/12/09) that one alderman said he wanted to “rip the top off a bottle of red”.  Go figure.  No protests when a uranium mine is about to be built within 30 kilometres? With proposals to legalise drinking in public places only where tourists visit (parks and wildlife) but a stringent, enforced (by rangers) target of the most vulnerable — the drunk and the homeless.

Meanwhile, from the poetic grassy knoll … As this youthful scribe observes from her window, the rush of the modern city and the silhouette of the bridge against the fading orange sky, her attention is drawn again to a Dickensian scene being played out in the city to the south where a small number of loyal RMIT staff is facing retrenchment on Christmas Eve.

One wonders if the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future will rattle their chains and appear in time to sway a change of course of this relentless exercise. Dickensian indeed, but we must pause a moment to remember that even in that timeless Dickens story Bob Cratchit still had a job to return to with Mr Scrooge after the brief Christmas celebrations. How far we have come in all this time.

How far…

Peter Fray

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