Foreign shuffle at Fairfax. Informed sources inside Fairfax say European correspondent Paola Totaro and India-based South Asia reporter Matt Wade will soon return home with the company’s opaque succession program dictating that the positions be advertised internally, despite those next in line being decided by management well in advance.

The Fin goes bush on QR. Eyebrows are being raised among finance media types regarding the Australian Financial Review’s increasingly one-sided coverage of the QR National float. There was much bemusement at last Wednesday’s front page where a stockbroker from Toowoomba was the latest interview talent used to talk down the float. The mostly positive quotes from big-city brokers apparently don’t fit the brief. Ballarat and Wagga Wagga brokers should expect a call before next month’s trading debut.

Funding issues at Griffith, too. In relation to your article about what is happening at UNSW, you will find that this is an increasing trend. The university I work at, Griffith University in Brisbane, is doing something very similar. At our Nathan campus, we have had a new building under construction for some time and apparently the building is going to be used for and funded by major publicly-listed companies for training purposes.

Whether this building will be used by anyone else I am unaware of. But from what I have gathered, the companies involved are Qantas, a major mining company and another I cannot recall. This sets a very, very dangerous precedent. In a time when the social value of education has become so devalued, I am very concerned for the future of our university sector. The universities as a result of changes to the sector only care for the bottom line and what helps the bottom line more than anything else is churning out the students, in particular Asian students whether they can speak or write English or not. A sad sad state of affairs.

Pay cuts at Suncorp. I work for the Suncorp/GIO/AAMI massive conglomerate and after last financial year’s brilliant turnaround where Patrick Snowball announced the company doubled its profits, and insurance customers have had to suck up massive increases in premiums and excess payments, the proposed new enterprise agreement for staff has been announced.

They are offering a pissy 2% increase in the base wage, and an additional 2% potential pay increase for performance-based pay for the first two years, going down to 1.5% for two years after that. The old agreement was 3% per annum increase with 1% performance pay. As you can imagine, this means big savings for Suncorp as obviously staff who ‘don’t perform’ will only get 2% per annum, well below inflation and CPI increases. The bulk of frontline staff at Suncorp are on around $47,000 so we’re not talking about a base wage of $800,000 plus performance pay as is common at the big end of town.

Save your money, cops. Why are current trainees at Goulburn Police Academy accruing thousands of dollars in HECS debt for a course that may not gain accreditation?

Peter Fray

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