Is helping a pregnant woman people smuggling? Three days after the anti-people-smuggling legislation was passed, it is taking effect. A journalist who was interviewing a destitute refugee in another country — a young woman who had just had a baby — was asked to pass her $100 to buy things for the baby. He refused on orders from his employers, who told him that they could all be charged with providing funds for people smuggling. This is exactly the purpose of the legislation — to instill fear so that no-one will help refugees and asylum seekers.

The hypocritical workplace campaigner. Which architect of the Your Rights @ Work campaign is presiding over a workplace where employees are being bullied into “volunteering” for redundancies?

System waste at Superpartners. I work in the Australian financial services sector and heard a very worrying piece of information about Australia’s largest superannuation administrator, Superpartners. Superpartners has a variety of administration platforms that manage the superannuation accounts for millions of superannuation members. Some of the systems are quite old, and some are maintained in-house, so they embarked on a system replacement process a couple of years ago. After a system selection process, they selected the CapitalX system from Synchronised Software and also contracted in Tata Consultancy Services as a third-party integrator.

All was fine on the surface until recently, when some serious holes started to appear and the project missed critical delivery dates. Superpartners management investigated and found that the system could not perform rudimentary tasks. Apparently Superpartners were locked into the contract with Synchronised Software as it did not contain the necessary termination conditions that would allow them to cancel the project.

Some backroom deal was done that saw Superpartners buy the source code of the system for an undisclosed sum. Effectively they bought their way out of the contract. They also sacked Tata. So now Superpartners have spent a truck load of money and they have the source code to a system that does not work.

Apparently the budget spent to date is around $70 million. This is a lot of money for something that does not work. But to make matters worse, apparently they have budgeted an additional $120 million to develop the system internally to a stage where they can actually use it. So a total of around $190-200 million to roll out a new superannuation adminstration system. This is an insane amount of money, and it is being indirectly paid for by the members of the superannuation funds administered by Superpartners.

Read all about it in the Herald — and The Fin. The crisis at Fairfax can’t get any better and growing editorial overlap between its titles won’t stop it from getting worse. Who is going to buy/read the Financial Review AND the Sydney Morning Herald if they continue to duplicate stories? Last Thursday they were at it again — both ran the same long think piece about the British coalition by Simon Jenkins. Neither paper carries any significant foreign affairs news of their own generation (The Fin uses the New York Times and Bloomberg and the Herald has The Guardian and NYT) and now that the Fin‘s weekday circulation is sliding inexorably downwards towards the iconic 75,000, the bean counters must be wondering whether it’s worth keeping the grumpy old beast alive or merging it with the BusinessDay supplement to the Herald and The Age.

Courier Mail — now free at servos? I drove back home to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane last week and stopped in at the McDonald’s on the highway near Caboolture and there were piles (more than one, and impressively high piles too) of the The Courier Mail on the counter, being given away to anyone with an outstretched hand (or not). Not sure if these count in the circulation numbers, but clearly they shouldn’t. Half of them were in the bin outside.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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