Consulting Oracle. A WA public servant writes: “my heart sank when I saw that Oracle is involved in the proposed e-health records system to be developed for the Federal Government (‘Roxon’s health records system a ‘massive waste of $467 million’ , Crikey, Thursday 18 August 2011). The Western Australian Government got enmeshed with Oracle in building its Office of Shared Services, a bureaucracy which aimed to take over all finance and human resources functions for government agencies. It was launched about six years ago and it has been a total disaster. My agency “went into” OSS last year and simple finance or HR functions that used to take minutes when we had our own admin staff now take hours. OSS was supposed to cost about $60 million. When the cost blowout reached over $300 million even Premier Colin Barnett took notice. OSS will now be “decommissioned”, leaving lots of redundant public servants and lots of anger. Oracle is getting the blame. Its web-based front end has been appallingly slow and cumbersome. Good riddance, say thousands of WA public servants.”

Where’s Tony? A tipster tells…”Following Julia Gillard’s appearance on Q&A on July 11, equal time was offered to the leader of the opposition who is quite keen but evidently his minders are worried about letting him loose in a public forum on national TV without prior briefing on questions: watch this space.”

The Russians love Abbott. A Crikey reader has spotted the Opposition Leader’s head splashed on a Russian website: “a very good (I think) finance newsletter based in Moscow (English language) illustrates its “Idiots” issue with a picture of Tony Abbott. They never mention Australia (except AUD occasionally) so the pic seems to have been chosen on aesthetic grounds rather than merely political.”

Sure enough, here he is on the Truth and Beauty website with absolutely no explanation…

More disgruntled university students weigh in. A Melbourne University student writes: “I think the tipsters re Sydney University and their fall in the Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings are missing the point. The rankings are based on research outcomes, not the learning experience of students.  As a postgraduate student at the University of Melbourne (aren’t we all postgrads now?) most of the ‘top’ researchers don’t perform the lowly task of teaching students. If they do, it is often one of the bunny subjects where they swan around and make jokes about how inferior students of other Victorian universities are and how great we all are to just be here. It’s as patchy as most Australian universities on course content and assessment. Last semester one of their famous professors made our assignments available for collection two days before the exam — the sum total of feedback for the entire semester. He indicated that a textbook he had written was a compulsory buy, when half of the course content was not covered by his book and was better dealt with by other textbooks which he constantly referred to. Many international students piggy back off domestic students with the group assignments and take home assessments, making it relatively easy to scrape through. I no longer perceive the qualification of Masters from an Australian university as anything of particular note anymore. Higher education in Australia is a money-making scam. Everything is dumbed down and narrowed in scope to make it easier for international students who can get by with rote learning techniques. Deep and critical thinking and the ability to synthesise information is not an outcome of the educational experience. The University of Melbourne has been a depressing experience for someone who chose to pursue further study after a few years in the workforce with a real thirst for knowledge and further learning. I can learn independently without paying the exorbitant fees. Congratulations on your ranking, University of Melbourne. A Pyrrhic victory?”

We waz robbed. The glittering PANPAs took place last night, and a Gold Coast reader writes: “Gold Coast Bulletin editor Dean Gould has claimed in the paper this morning that GCB came “second” overall in PANPA last week. The insider’s view was that honour went to the Townsville Bulletin. GCB was stone motherless last according to the goss.”

Here’s the blag in the Bully this morning:

Crikey checked the PANPA website but they haven’t updated it with the winners yet, which make things difficult. But judging by the report there’s no mention of second or third… Did GCB just award itself silver?

Food dreams and legal eagles. An interested observer responds to our sighting of former Masterchef contestant Peter Kritikides: “Before (and during — he took leave without pay) and after pursuing his food dreams, Peter worked as a lawyer with Lander and Rogers in Melbourne.  Because of his ‘pursuing the dream leave, he was overlooked for promotion that year (2010) but was promoted the next.  Mind you, even though they gave him the ‘dream’ leave,  they extracted their pound of flesh on his return, with him fronting numerous client functions, most of them involving cooking. He’s a really personable guy, and they have a great asset there. Funny how many lawyers end-up on Masterchef, but not surprising when you look at what a miserable career it can be.”

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey