Getting up early to monitor for Burke. Tony Burke’s department (was DEWHA, now SEWPAC) have just sacked an external contractor, a full-time media monitor (junior position) who previously worked at AAP Canberra, because he didn’t agree to change his start time to 5.30am (half an hour earlier than his contract specified) during sitting weeks . No competence or other issues, apparently — he had been interviewed for the permanent position and told off the record that he was probably a shoo-in and he has been given one week’s notice just ahead of Christmas, cutting short his contract. The department “happened to have one of the other applicants for the permanent position waiting in the wings to take over”.

The minister’s office was pressuring the department to provide media monitoring before 7am. That would be fine — but the department did not offer any penalty rates. In fact the contractor was already being paid some $4 less per hour by his agency than an internal staffer would be paid. It was “take it or leave it”. For parliament’s extra sitting days, he was instructed to come in at 5.30 with no negotiation.

Hughie junior on the march. Greg Williams, the son of outgoing Queensland Transport Workers Union secretary Hughie Williams, has left his dad’s side during the union dinosaur’s last days at the desk of the union. Greg has given a month’s notice and has walked out the door. The funny thing is, all the other staff and officials are waiting around to see what sort of payouts are on offer when the New Transport Workers Team takes over in January. A few were too loyal to Hughie and will want to go, but they will want redundancy.

Gail waits patiently for her bank. I was sauntering down Gouger Street in Adelaide this morning after a coffee in the Central Markets. I then had to make a quick trip to the Westpac branch in Gouger Street to deposit a cheque. I arrived there around five minutes before opening time, and there was a lady waiting at the door trying to get the attention of staff and it appeared she wanted to go inside. The staff were indicating that she should wait another five minutes.

I looked a bit closer and then realised who the person was — it was Gail Kelly! She may have been shocked that I recognised her as I said to her how “being first among equals is not so easy sometimes”. To her credit at no stage did she exclaim “don’t you know who I am!”.  Good work, Gail, patiently waiting before the branch opens. Maybe it was payday and she need some cash to go buy a coffee?

Cheap booze, from offshore. My local liquor shop owner had just finished dealing with a rep for a national distributor of major imported brand spirits — who he told me had just spent a good part of his afternoon photographing barcodes on bottles in our town’s two majors liquor shops. Seems the big boys are suspected of setting up their own direct offshore purchasing apparatus — then selling direct to the parents in Australia, apparently resulting in some very big savings. Shame about the parallel import laws — seems the local distributors are very annoyed.

More bread for your bread. A local bakery in the Sydney suburb of Drummoyne had a sign in the window apologising for a 15% to 30% price rise for its products. And that was before the rain damaged the wheat crops in NSW …