News sub-hubs add travel miles. More on News Limited’s centralised subbing hubs: I’ve been working at Quest Newspapers in Brisbane for more than five years and have seen staff members moved from an office with no regards to where they live or their personal circumstances. We’re talking an area from Ipswich (40 kilometres west of the CBD) to Redcliffe (40 kilometres north) to Springwood (20 kilometres south). They get away with it by using the phrase “in line with business requirements” and offer no compensation for travelling expenses (including tolls) and extra time on the road. Some have seen it as a form of punishment, and a way of trying to get you to quit. With the amount of staff turnover, it seems to be working …

Electrical storm missed the target. The storm of outrage confected in Victoria this week by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell and his unlikely sycophant, Electrical Trades Union heavy Dean Mighell, about the first public safety incident in 480,000 smart meter installations across Victoria has completely missed (or deliberately ignored) the much more significant safety story. Well over a thousand homes have been found by smart meter installers to have electrical wiring so dangerous that the power had to be turned off immediately, and not reconnected until repairs were completed. Every one of those incidents was potentially a life-saving event. And the smart meter rollout is not even 20% complete.

More fee gouging from Sydney councils. Sydney suburban councils are running a newish fee gouging rort: if you want to develop your block into dual occupancy or build a granny flat at the back of the existing house, councils such as Blacktown and Baulkham Hills are insisting the owner install a stormwater retention system (which is standard anyway) and place what’s called a “positive caveat” on the title that says the council has the right to enter the block and clean it out at the owners’ cost if there’s a problem and the owner won’t or can’t clean it out.

But before that, the council charges fees for the design and registering of the stormwater retention system (its to clean run-off from the block before it gets discharged into the stormwater system in the street). It’s usually a tank, and the whole system has to be described and added to the positive caveat. With legal, council and bank fees and charges it can add $1000 to the cost of the development. Doesn’t sound much, but it was $1000 councils were not getting two years ago.

Peter Fray

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