Archive for January 31st, 2012

I think this the first time I have heard a news bulletin declare that a government has “stuffed up”

We do often hear the term “bungle” used in relation to government programs, usually with a caveat that “the opposition claims that…”, but I think I heard something new today.

2GB’s 5pm news bulletin contained a line declaring that the NSW Government had stuffed up the new contracts for the disabled student transport scheme.

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2GB newsreader Natalie Peters (image courtesy Twitter)NATALIE PETERS: Macquarie National News at Five. A few showers tomorrow, tops of twenty-two degrees. Good afternoon, I’m Natalie Peters.

The state government will spend an extra one million dollars this week alone to ensure all students with a disability have transport to and from school.

It’s offering some bus drivers revised contracts for term one, after a stuff up before Christmas meant a number of the contracts weren’t finalised before the return of school this week, leaving more than seven hundred students stranded.

Labor claims it alerted the Minister to the problem last Monday, but Premier Barry O’Farrell says while pen may have been put to paper then, it wouldn’t have been received straight away.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrel (image courtesy New South Wales Government)BARRY O’FARRELL: What Mr. Picoli said at yesterday’s press conference was he became aware on Wednesday. Thursday, the Department of Education put out a media release, and I got an email update from Adrian on Sunday that said that, not only had further operators pulled out over the weekend, but seven hundred and forty families were unlikely to have transport yesterday morning.

It is true, and it seems that the government have even acknowledged it…but still, hearing a newsreader say that a government had stuffed up came as a bit of a shock. It was, however, a very welcome shock and I was very glad to hear a newsreader who was not afraid to be direct about telling the truth. Keep up the good work Natalie.

(h/t Audio: Radio 2GB. Images: Natalie Peters’ Twitter profile page, and Barry O’Farrell’s NSW Government profile page)

Samuel

January 31st, 2012 at 06:03pm

Unnecessary Convolution!

Dear Mr. (redacted),

Please accept the wish of the undersigned of a greeting which you may find acceptable given all of the reasonably foreseen and unforeseen circumstances which may impact upon your decision as to what constitutes an appropriate greeting, as may have transpired between the time at which this message was sent (which may either be the time at which it was sent by the sender, or the time at which the sender did conceive of the original idea to send the message, whichever is appropriate, but not the time at which the message was received) and the time at which it was received, taking in to consideration any delays in transmission of a technical nature which may have been or may not have been beyond the control of the undersigned, as determined at the complete discretion of the appropriate party or authority for such determinations.

The Australia Post post office and an Australia Post van in Dickson, ACTIt is the undersigned’s great pleasure to inform you that the hard drive and DVD mentioned in previous communications are now in the hands of agents of the government who, at the time of taking guardianship of said items, were engaged in argumentative bickering over what time of day constitutes the best time of the day to count the money in their tills. Presently and currently as the production of this missive is attended to by the undersigned, a government vehicle has arrived at a designated point near the aforementioned location of the aforementioned agents of the government, to make haste with the facilitation of the transportation of the aforementioned items in an effort to secure the timely provision of the service for which the items were placed in the guardianship of the government, and for which the government received a mutually agreeable amount of monetary compensation.

Yours forthwith and with the appropriate amount of deference and friendly thoughts and wishes,
The Undersigned

Samuel
(the aforementioned undersigned)

With the exception of the photo, which was not included in the original message, this is a message which I sent earlier this afternoon, having been inspired to an extent by the convoluted conversation which the post office staff were having about counting money and how the post office’s policies affect the counting of money. The photo, which was taken a few minutes after the message was sent, was added to provide some context as to who these “agents of the government” are.

For what it’s worth, “agent of the government” is a term Leo Laporte uses in his live-read commercials for stamps.com where he talks about a post office employee coming and picking up whatever it is that you are trying to post via the services of stamps.com. It’s a good description of post office employees.

January 31st, 2012 at 05:23pm

How long until this government collapses?

If the rest of the Parliament doesn’t withdraw support from them, surely the in-fighting will be the end of them seeing as the poll numbers are just getting worse and worse.

Primary support for major parties. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

Two-party preferred support. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

I’m at a loss to explain the two-party preferred figures. Labor and the Greens both lost ground on their primary votes, and yet the Labor number is unchanged. Are Newspoll assuming that all non-Liberal/National votes automatically get distributed to Labor?

Meanwhile Julia Gillard has suffered quite a personal setback after the events of the last few weeks.

During the break – marked by the Prime Minister dumping her written agreement with Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie on poker machine reforms and the controversy over her office’s role in triggering a riot on Australia Day – Ms Gillard’s personal standing fell. Satisfaction with the Prime Minister dropped from 36 per cent last month to 33 per cent last weekend.

Ms Gillard also gave ground to the Opposition Leader as preferred prime minister, with her seven-point lead last month halving to three points as her support fell from 43 per cent to 40 per cent while Mr Abbott’s was a steady 37 per cent last weekend.

(h/t Dennis Shanahan, Political Editor of The Australian. Note: subscription required to view entire article.)

Preferred Prime Minister. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

Satisfaction with party leaders. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

I think we’re in for a very interesting year in Australian federal politics.

Samuel

January 31st, 2012 at 08:51am

Dumb idea averted…but why Barry O’Farrell throught it was a good idea to start with is beyond me

I have to say that I’m happy that the ban on unleaded petrol is New South Wales has been scrapped, but I’m also a bit miffed that they came to the decision last night. If they could have just held on for another day, then I would have been able to get around to writing about how stupid I thought the idea was. You see, I was actually looking forward to the opportunity to prove that, on occasion, I disagree with politicians who are usually on my side, and I’m not afraid to take them to task over it.

Alas, Barry beat me to it.

PREMIER Barry O’Farrell has backflipped on his controversial ethanol policy, dumping a government ban on unleaded petrol due to begin on July 1.

The cabinet decided yesterday to dump the ban a week after the leaking of secret cabinet documents revealed that Energy Minister Chris Hartcher had tried and failed to get the ban dropped last month.

The dumping of the ban came after it was revealed Mr O’Farrell was proceeding with it despite advice to the contrary from Mr Hartcher, his department, the ACCC, the Crown Solicitor and two independent reports.

The ban on normal unleaded fuel was supposed to force petrol companies to make more E10 fuel to meet the mandate of 6 per cent of all fuel being made with ethanol.

(h/t Andrew Clennell of The Daily Telegraph)

To be completely upfront about this, the ban would not have affected me as I don’t use regular 91 octane unleaded petrol. I’m pretty sure (yes, mechanical me and my lack of mechanical knowledge) that my car is supposed to run on 95 octane petrol or higher, but apart from that I have had problems with previous vehicles which I put down to the 91 octane fuel. All that said, I do treat the 91 octane fuel as a backup measure if premium 98 octane unleaded petrol is not available and I need fuel. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to use the ethanol stuff.

In theory, ethanol-blended fuel is safe in modern vehicles, but as I understand it, the fuel is less efficient and so any cost savings at the bowser are quickly offset by the fact that you use more of the stuff. There was also going to be the spectacular problem that it was not going to be possible to produce enough ethanol to meet the demand, which would force the price up, potentially making the premium unleaded fuel cheaper than the ethanol-blended fuel. And then there were the strange exemptions which were going to be granted to service stations, allowing some of them to sell regular unleaded for short periods of time…a product which was not going to be manufactured because it would be almost impossible to sell due to the ban, and for which the logistics were never worked out as service stations would either have to keep an underground tank on standby for the regular unleaded or clean out the ethanol-blended tank for a day of selling the regular unleaded, after which they would have to clean it out again before putting ethanol-blended fuel in there.

Madness!

It was also part of a plan to reduce New South Wales’ carbon dioxide emissions so as to prevent mythical man-made global warming. More madness.

But to my mind, the biggest problem here was not all of that, but rather the fact that due to a poorly thought-out government policy, competition was going to be reduced, choice was going to be reduced, and the consumer was going to suffer.

I’m glad that Barry O’Farrell and his colleagues have changed their mind and scrapped this dumb idea. Now, on to my next question, why was the normally sensible Alan Jones in favour of this idea?

POWERFUL 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones has been revealed as having passionately lobbied the state government to stick with a 6 per cent ethanol mandate which marked the end of unleaded petrol.

The former Liberal speechwriter-turned-talkback radio host unexpectedly arrived with ethanol company boss Dick Honan to a meeting with Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner last November during which Mr Jones lobbied for the mandate.

The meeting occurred a month before Mr Stoner pushed successfully in cabinet against a proposal from Energy Minister Chris Hartcher to dump the mandate.

(h/t Andrew Clennell and Evelyn Yamine of The Daily Telegraph)

I assume it was an ill-conceived attempt to help farmers…but surely a conservative radio host should know better. Haven’t we learnt all that we ever needed to know about the perils of having governments pick winners and losers in industry of late? Even those with the shortest of memories could point to the multiple collapses of subsidised solar energy companies in the US as example of why we don’t support governments that want to do this sort of thing.

January 31st, 2012 at 08:04am

Photo Gallery offline

Just in case you happen to be the one person who is likely to try to visit my photo gallery today (it doesn’t get much traffic any more, one or two people a day at most), please note that it is currently offline for maintenance.

I’ll say more about this later today when I’m done. For now, you can try to visit it if you like, but much of it will be working sporadically for the next little while.

Update:The photo gallery is now back online. There are one or two minor changes, but I’ll address those in a separate post as, although the changes from a user perspective are small, the changes from the backend are not.

Samuel

January 31st, 2012 at 05:43am


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