Monday, October 31

Friggin’ commie do-gooders

If you’re not from Adelaide you might not know that our Premier has a cunning plan, “We’re going to make Adelaide a better place”.

Mike Rann has a vision.

We’ve known for a while that new trams are on the way. Though it’s only just starting to appear that Mikey is looking through rose sepia coloured glasses.

With enhancements like overhead power cables and no right turns, the main corridor through the city is to be changed from this to this.

All to service this area of inner metropolitan Adelaide.

Thursday, October 27


I paid the deposit on a new steel carport yesterday. After almost handing over $10k for some else to do it, I had a change of heart when I realised the same thing was available in a DIY kit for $4k less.

The plans went in to council today.

Check the date – today the countdown begins.

How long will development approval take?
When will the materials arrive?
What parts will be missing?
Will the Grinder slice himself open on a sheet of corrugated iron?
How much will the project end up costing?

Stay tuned.

The industrial revolution

It would appear John Howard is set to go out with a bang with his industrial relations reforms. Not being one to research too much into these things, I think I recall $20M being spent on the advertising campaign alone.

If the states are unsuccessful in appealing this legislation, most awards will go out the window in an event bigger than federation (whatever that is). Most existing benefits are to be preserved. Some that are plainly extortionate, like 10 days a year off for trade union training, will go out with the bath water. I struggle to respect someone who tries to defend such tripe.

And on it goes.

I’m not going to enter the whole debate, though I must admit some of the changes have made me question my own ideals.

No doubt an inefficient IR system has many indirect costs for business, however, so does taxation. Gauging by the near doubling in size of the tax manuals compared with 15 years ago, I suspect there would be a lot more gained from a simplified taxation system.

There are so many types of tax that people have entire career paths mapped out for them just in one area of taxation within the ATO. This mega department isn’t free, neither is the cost of accounting within business. AND IT DOESN’T PRODUCE A THING.

The Australian tax system needs to be stripped down and built from scratch. Even on the domestic front, the average family needs at least a cert IV in bookwork to keep track of rebates, allowances, thresholds and the rest.

So, before meddling with IR – how about tax reform?

Somehow I see ditching the monarchy will rate higher, and what was that other red-herring of Keating’s – changing our flag.


Tuesday, October 18

The benefit of trust

I may have made mention of my experience with red tape with and within the public service. My views on how public accountability and political leadership make for a not so lean and efficient machine also linger somewhere in the archives.

I’ve watched newcomers to “public employment” trundle wide-eyed into the peat bog of formality only to be slowly and cruelly engulfed. I’ve also seen government vacancies hang open for months because wage structures fail to come close to professional salary levels.

The Australian has chalked up another story of public administrative extravagance.

A Civil Aviation Safety Authority internal review found that the unaccountable $90-a-day travel allowance for food and incidentals was often drawn down on corporate credit cards as cash weeks before the actual travel.

Staff at the air safety regulator have wasted at least $150,000 a year booking their own travel, and have spent more on food and drink when away than on accommodation.

This led to the conclusion that CASA officials were using the allowance, which did not have to be justified by receipts, to top up their salaries.

“Conclusion”? May I suggest “Assumption” is a better word. While the TA for CASA might be more generous than some, I can attest that blowing the dosh before arriving at the destination isn’t necessarily a major scam.

Any regular traveller will confirm how quick the shine wears off spending hours waiting in airports, crammed in economy seating and solitary dining on deep fried schnitzels before retiring to a lonely room and crummy tv. Meanwhile untended domestic responsibilities and neglected spousal relations await your delayed return.

I’ve blown TA on items such as magazines, comfortable trousers, food and drink well before leaving town. Not every destination lends itself to the conveniences and comforts of home.

Still, if you think you’re being ripped off by Joe Public Servant, then support the calls for more controls. It already takes hours to chase down the necessary signatures for approval to travel and with the support of administrative staff about another half a day to process the TA expenditure before and after the trip. Chasing a receipt for a pie, finger bun and a can of coke bothers me for a couple of reasons.

While I’m used to spending my time doing tasks menial, it’s a drag chasing receipts from Harry Shopkeeper and collating the tickertape at the end of a long journey is going to end in tears.

Secondly, public servants pay tax too. Hard to believe I know, but I’ve seen the group certificates. (In fact most public service jobs are so mundane they allow little opportunity for even the most creative of accountants to justify a viable claim and therefore tend to have incomes that have less propensity to escape tax unlike some other career groups).

The hidden cost of authorising, processing and recording the simplest $5.45 luncheon is evident when you’re paid by the hour to search for the hidden claim form on the intranet, interpret the latest travel policy and chase executive for authorisation before sucking up to the finance section to rush through your cheque so you can get to the bank on time to cash it before closing. It can take half a day to get $50 of TA for a night away.

Bring it on.

Thursday, October 13

Listen to your mother

If you’re about to go motor racing you’d better put on some clean underwear because the jock cops are on patrol.

SYDNEY: Australian motor racing officials are upset that the sport's highest paid professionals are ignoring the most basic safety precautions.

V8 Supercar drivers decided among themselves not to wear fire-resistant underwear, which includes full-length body suits, socks and balaclavas. They were exposed at last weekend's Bathurst 1000 when two-time champion Marcus Ambrose and his co-driver Warren Luff were penalised for not wearing the headpiece.

The agreement has angered both the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) and the Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company. Regulators have promised to conduct random underwear checks and impose harsh penalties on drivers who do not comply with the ruling. Chief steward of the V8 Supercar series Steve Chopping said drivers would be warned of their obligations prior…

Tuesday, October 11

Absolutely no recollection

A man wanted to get married.

He was having trouble choosing among three likely candidates. He gives each woman a present of $5,000 and watches to see what they do with the money.

The first does a total make over. She goes to a fancy beauty salon gets her hair done, new make up and buys several new outfits and dresses up very nicely for the man.

She tells him that she has done this to be more attractive for him because she loves him so much.

The man was impressed.

The second goes shopping to buy the man gifts. She gets him a new set of golf clubs, some new gizmos for his computer, and some expensive clothes.

As she presents these gifts, she tells him that she has spent all the money on him because she loves him so much.

Again, the man is impressed.

The third invests the money in the stock market. She earns several ! times the $5,000. She gives him back his $5000 and reinvests the remainder in a joint account.

She tells him that she wants to save for their future because she loves him so much.

Obviously, the man was impressed.

The man thought for a long time about what each woman had done with the money he'd given her. Then, he married the one with the biggest boobs.

Men are like that, you know.

There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Cheap as chips?

Woman awarded $548,000 for slipping on chips
CANBERRA: A Canberra woman has been awarded more than half-a-million dollars in damages for an injury she suffered in a fall at the Woden Plaza seven years ago.

The ACT Supreme Court heard Elizabeth Cairns seriously injured her back when she slipped on hot potato chips shortly after leaving her place of work in the plaza. It found that the shopping centre's owner at the time, Lend Lease Property Management, and the centre's cleaning service, SSL Support Services, breached a duty of care to Mrs Cairns and other people in her position by not cleaning up the spillage quickly enough.

ACT Supreme Court Master David Harper was satisfied that had the food court area been checked every 15 minutes, the chips would have been cleaned up and Mrs Cairns would not have suffered her injury.

Lend Lease was found to be liable for damages, which were assessed at $548,000 plus costs. It was the second-biggest damages pay-out in the ACT this year, coming after Justice Macolm Gray recently awarded $7.5 million to a former Canberra man who became a quadriplegic after diving into the poorly signposted shallow end of Civic pool 13 years ago.

Holy crap! A duty of care? What next, a personal escort from the premises to the employee’s car.

This is an intriguing case, generally (maybe not in the ACT?) an employee cannot take their employer to court; WorkCover are responsible for the rehabilitation and compensation.

Perhaps the injured party took the action as a member of the public and made a civil claim. This makes more sense because the case can be won on the balance of probabilities whereas a criminal case would need to have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cats and Dogs

Cats have nine lives. Which makes them ideal for experimentation.

A dog goes into a hardware store and says: "I'd like a job please".
The hardware store owner says: "We don't hire dogs, why don't you go join the circus?"
The dog replies: "What would the circus want with a plumber".

Choose a headline

a) Civil liberty group on the bandwagon
b) Criminals endangered by police pursuits
c) Tighter chase controls creating more elusive crims

SYDNEY: Nearly one in seven high-speed police car chases in NSW in the year to June ended in a crash, lifting the crash rate to its highest in six years. This was despite attempts by police chiefs to tighten control of potentially deadly pursuits.

New official figures reveal that 284 of the 2146 pursuits in 2004-05 ended with a collision, killing three people. Scores more were injured in 68 of those chases. "The statistics show clearly that even in relation to minor offences, police are continuing to recklessly endanger innocent bystanders," said the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Cameron Murphy.

Since 1994, an estimated 2300 chases have led to a crash, according to calculations using previously released police figures. Between July 1, 1994 and June 30 this year, the state's police have notched up almost 21,000 pursuits.

Guy Stanford, chairman of the Motor Cycle Council of NSW, which represents 30,000 riders, said the high crash rate called in question whether pursuits were the right way to catch offenders.