The Federal government’s Department of Infrastructure released the 2nd round of the Regional and Community local Infrastructure grants in December and nominated this coming Friday as the closing date for applications. However, the federal government revised the guidelines and application form just before Christmas leaving many community groups and local governments in an impossible position to get quotes from contractors due to their annual Christmas close-down period.

To make matters worse, while people have had to work over Christmas to complete the applications, the department’s information phone line has been on a recorded message service over much of the period. Now with two states having heat-wave conditions and computer servers crashing left, right and centre; requests for extensions have not been considered. It seems it is OK for Canberra and Kev to take a holiday but not everyone else.

Yesterday was a day of total fire ban in Victoria. The CFA website and the bushfire information line say quite clearly — NO NAKED FLAMES INCLUDING CANDLES FOR WEDDINGS outside on a day of total fire ban ANYWHERE IN VICTORIA. Funny how then when I want to report an incident in a restaurant with candles and burning torches outside in Melbourne I go and telephone them they tell me to dial 000  and report it to police for emergency attendance.

So I do that and the police then call me back and say they have spoken to the Melbourne Fire Brigade who advise the police that they have no concerns about it if it’s in the metropolitan area. I asked if there were an exception to the law in the metro area and they said no, but the MFB did not regard the total fire ban as extending to such things.

Looks to me like the MFB is undermining the CFA’s declaration of a total fire ban, and  its consequent psychology. This is too important an issue in Victoria for these kind or turf wars and lack of consistency.

I went to the feedback form on Tony Abbott’s website a week or so ago to comment (negatively) on his idea that we should “turn the boats around”. Never mind that my comment was clearly one-time and anti, I’ve since been regularly receiving PR crap from his office. When I got fed up deleting it I had to manually unsubscribe myself from his distribution network.

I have written to numerous politicians online in the past (and some of them more than once!) but this has never happened to me before. Way to get my vote Tony! Bombard someone who clearly disagrees with your views!

The ANZ Bank recently announced a simplified bank account fee structure. Quicker wits would know this to be a euphemism for higher account-keeping fees, but I only realised when questioning a charge on my latest statement. The bank now has an “excess cheque transaction fee”. What would be excessive I asked — writing maybe five cheques a month ?  No, it transpires this fee applies to any cheque in excess of zero, nothing, zip. Gives a new slant to the word meant to describe going beyond normal, usual or moderate.

Peter Fray

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