Archive for June 21st, 2010

ACTION goes full circle

The regular four-year cycle of ACTION staff rostering has made a full revolution a few months ahead of schedule. On Friday, ACTION’s drivers will be on strike all day. Funnily enough, the reasons for this strike are pretty much the same as the reasons for the last strike. The biggest difference that I can see though is that this time around, the strike is being conducted with a few days notice rather than a few hours…otherwise we seem to be going around in ever-repeating circles.

As I said to 2CC’s Mark Parton a few weeks ago, this ongoing pattern seems to be mostly due to ACTION being a government department which, like all other government department, shuffles all of its decision makers around as often as possible so as to prevent anybody maintaining any corporate knowledge, and therefore causing the new bosses to make the same old mistakes all over again each and every time the pay negotiations come around.

Case in point, the big boss at the time of the last strike, Mike Zissler, has long since escaped the public service and the man now at the top, James Roncon, was the general manager of Cowra Shire Council as recently as last year (scroll down linked page about three quarters to see the article). In other words, today’s boss wasn’t even in the ACT to see the news articles, let alone receive an in-depth inside understanding of the issues at play when we last went through this circus. To make matters worse (and exemplify my point) James didn’t even start off in Canberra at ACTION…last year he worked for the Land Development Agency (page 11).

Unlike the last strike, I won’t be working when this one occurs as I have Friday off, however I will admit that things like this did then, and do now, make me thankful to have access to a car. The fact that I often finish work after midnight makes me even more thankful for this. I do, at the very least, hope that the advance warning of this strike will allow people to plan ahead more than they were able to do last time.

And on that note, I leave you with The ACTION Song, to the tune of Herman’s Hermit’s No Milk Today.

No ACTION today, they took my bus away
The busses are just fine, but there’s a picket line
No ACTION today, the drivers are on strike
But people at the stop, don’t know the reason why

How could they know that there is a strike
There’s no signs around, media just catching up
How could they know that there is a strike
They’re all stuck there, at the bus stop

No ACTION today, they took my bus away
the shifts on offer are, very very poor

But all that’s left is a bus stop filled with people
looking very con-fu-used
They’ll all need to arrange other transport
Like a taxi

No ACTION today, they took my bus away
The drivers might be fined, but they don’t really mind
No ACTION today, they took my bus away
Services could be halved, but the drivers won’t take part

Stanhope’s regime has caused this
massive budget cuts, and lots less busses
How will people get from A to B
If there’s no bus, in the middle of the day

No ACTION today, they took my bus away
The drivers are on strike, fighting the good fight

All they want’s a decent roster
without split shifts and poor service
They want people to use the busses
And keep them in a job

No ACTION today, they took my bus away
Things are looking up, the talks have resumed
No ACTION today, they took my bus away
The split shifts are gone, the union is pleased

Who knows what might be next
What tricks are left, and who will win
Will we have another strike
Only time will tell, we shall wait and see

No ACTION today, they took my bus away
We play the waiting game, and let the talks go on

Who knows what might be next
Will services be intact, and who will win
Who knows what might be next
Will services be intact, and who will win
Who knows what might be next
Will services be intact, and who will win

Samuel

June 21st, 2010 at 04:09pm

Join the dots to form a maze

Police press releases are usually written in strange and peculiar ways so as to not influence court proceedings; I accept and respect this, but I can’t stand it when they enter the realm of the indecipherable. Yesterday the NSW Police Media Unit produced a perfect example.

Teenager critically injured after falling from moving car – Broken Hill
Sunday, 20 Jun 2010 03:44pm

A man has been critically injured after falling from a moving vehicle in the state’s far west.

Two male youths were consuming alcohol at a party in Duff Street, Broken Hill, with a number of other people overnight.

About 2.30am today, a 17-year-old male youth left the party in a green Daewoo sedan.

Witnesses have told police they saw a second 17-year-old male youth travelling on the back section of the vehicle.

A short time later, the teenager fell from the vehicle onto the bitumen roadway.

The teenager suffered critical head injuries and was taken by NSW Ambulance Paramedics to Broken Hill Base Hospital for emergency treatment.

He has since been transferred to The Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The driver of the vehicle – who failed to stop at the scene – was arrested at a residence in Ryan Lane, Broken Hill, and taken to the local hospital for mandatory blood and urine tests.

No charges have been laid at this stage and investigations are continuing.

Anyone who witnessed the incident and hasn’t already spoken with police is urged to contact Broken Hill Police Station via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Right…did you get that? You can re-read it if you like, but I doubt it will help. I tried that and was left with even more questions. Let’s take it from the top.

Teenager critically injured after falling from moving car – Broken Hill
Sunday, 20 Jun 2010 03:44pm

A man has been critically injured after falling from a moving vehicle in the state’s far west.

A man? The title said “teenager”. The two aren’t mutually exclusive as two of the teenage years do coincide with adulthood, but still it is odd for the police to refer to adults as teenagers.

Two male youths were consuming alcohol at a party in Duff Street, Broken Hill, with a number of other people overnight.

Convoluted…how about “people consumed alcohol at a party in Duff Street, Broken Hill overnight” instead? As it happens, this line does lead to something, but it’s still a very strange line.

About 2.30am today, a 17-year-old male youth left the party in a green Daewoo sedan.

Witnesses have told police they saw a second 17-year-old male youth travelling on the back section of the vehicle.

OK, let’s call the first 17-year-old male “Male #1” and the other one “Male #2”. I immediately have to ask how Male #1 left in the Daewoo, as the driver or as a passenger? Normally the police will indicate if a given person was driving when they mention them in relation to a car.

A short time later, the teenager fell from the vehicle onto the bitumen roadway.

That would be Male #2, or so I’m inclined to assume.

The teenager suffered critical head injuries and was taken by NSW Ambulance Paramedics to Broken Hill Base Hospital for emergency treatment.

He has since been transferred to The Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The driver of the vehicle – who failed to stop at the scene – was arrested at a residence in Ryan Lane, Broken Hill, and taken to the local hospital for mandatory blood and urine tests.

“The driver”? But we haven’t established who, if anyone, from the rest of the story was driving (or alleged to have been driving, as the case may be).

No charges have been laid at this stage and investigations are continuing.

I suspect that this is the cause of the incomprehensible nature of the press release. The police haven’t charged anyone with anything and therefore can’t allege that anyone did anything in particular.

All that the press release really tells us is that two youths, possibly Male #1 and Male #2, were drinking at a party. Male #1 left in a car that he may or may not have been driving. Male #2 was on the back of the car, fell off and received injuries. A man, as opposed to a youth, may also have fallen from the back of a car and received injuries, but we really don’t know much about that.

By inference we can conclude that the arrested person, whom we know was driving the car from which Male #2 fell, probably passed their blood and urine tests as they would have otherwise been charged with drink-driving. It’s interesting that the police don’t make mention of this though. Surely they could say that the test was positive, negative or that the result had not arrived.

The real question for me though is why Police Media would produce a press release as ridiculous as this…a press release which is going to have the media interpreting it and drawing their own conclusions (the most likely one being that Male #1 is the driver…something which the police were careful to avoid saying) when they could have simply said, in a handful more words, that “a 17-year-old male fell from the back of a Daewoo sustaining head injuries, said male is in hospital, police request witnesses to call Crime Stoppers”? It would have made a lot more sense, avoided any potential legal problems, and said everything that it needed to say.

My theory is that they drafted it on the assumption that they would charge the driver with something…then didn’t charge the driver, and made a few quick alterations to the draft which removed problematic references but left a thoroughly perplexing story. Why the media unit then went ahead and released it is beyond me…but then again, so is the question of why I’ve dedicated almost 1000 words of a blog post to deciphering this nonsense.

These are the mysteries which keep me awake in the morning when I should be getting some sleep in preparation for a night shift.

Samuel

June 21st, 2010 at 08:57am

Missing miners

The plane load of missing mining bosses in Africa is concerning for a number of reasons. Most importantly of course it’s concerning because the plane has been missing for over 20 hours with absolutely no communications. Whilst I hope that it all turns out well for all on board the plane, I fear that it won’t.

Domestically this is concerning because of the impact it may have on the ongoing debate over the mining super profits tax (which is a crazy scheme, but that’s a debate for another time) in which the mining companies and the federal government are locked in a bitter fight. Under normal circumstances, a missing chartered flight carrying a handful of Australians somewhere in Africa wouldn’t get a lot of attention, in fact it would probably be in the news one day and not be in the news the next, however with the ongoing battle over the mining tax, anything to do with mining takes on extra importance in the media.

Neither the government nor the miners will want to be seen to be playing politics with this, however it seems somewhat inevitable that they will use it in one way or another. Take Foreign Minister Stephen Smith for example. He’s in a rather tricky situation…he runs the department which is responsible for doing everything it can to ensure the safe return of the missing miners, however he is also a member of a government which would be quite glad to have a handful of mining executives and a mining company off their backs. Stephen Smith gave a press conference yesterday as, after all, that is what the Minister for Foreign Affairs does when a group of Australians go missing overseas, however he did not look in the least bit comfortable. He looked like I might look if I was dragged out of bed at 4am to answer questions about a topic which is not as interesting as my sleep. He looked like he was forced to be there, but really didn’t care about the missing people and was just there because somebody else in the government decided that they needed to look as if they are doing the normal things for missing people.

The miners on the other hand could also use this to their own advantage, although I don’t think that they will be stupid enough to do it directly as, currently at least, they are winning the PR war over the mining tax and would know better than to use a potential tragedy for political gain…something to which Australians don’t usually take kindly.

It could be pointed out that the mining executives were en route to an almost unpronounceable mining project in a mostly unpronounceable part of Africa…the type of foreign project which would be more likely to occur on a more regular basis if the proposed mining tax forces the companies to invest more heavily in foreign projects. These less developed parts of the world have less safe transport infrastructure, and it could be argued that the mining tax would lead to a higher likelihood of lives being lost.

As I say though, it’s unlikely that the miners will say that directly, and certainly not this soon, but I think it is inevitable that the missing miners will influence the direction of the debate over the mining tax, which is sad. In the infamous words of Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste”.

I do sincerely hope that the missing miners are found safe and well. Any time that people go missing it is concerning, especially when it involves a plane in a remote area.

On the bright side though, we can usually learn from situations like this, and I think it’s safe to say that the one good thing which will definitely come out of this is that companies will be much more careful about allowing their entire board to travel together from now on.

Samuel

June 21st, 2010 at 06:56am

The state of things

I’m constantly amazed by this. I go away for a while and people keep visiting the blog. The numbers drop off a bit, but there is still a steady stream of visitors. I suppose it’s nice to know that somebody other than me finds this blog interesting.

I’ve been away for far too long for me to try and catch up on everything that I’ve missed. Mostly of late I have been working, sleeping, and using the remaining time to try and avoid having to do much of anything. Nights at work like the last couple do give me a greater incentive to want some downtime, but the guilt of neglecting this blog never goes away, nor does the insatiable urge to fill the blog with content. In one of my fleeting thoughts the other day, I equated it to the The Eagles’ “Hotel California” from which “You can checkout any time you like but you can never leave”.

This was all reinforced for me this weekend when I bumped in to an old friend at a service station (maybe “bumped” is the wrong word here…I’m always nervous about using it and other “collision” words in sentences involving motor vehicles) and the first question they asked was about this blog…followed by a comment about how they enjoy reading it.

I also found out overnight that I work with a person who used to listen to my calls to Clive Robertson when he was doing the overnight shift on 2UE, 2CC and the rest of the network in 2007 and 2008. This world just seems to be comprised of circles…lots and lots of circles.

Anyway, no promises, no guarantees, but I’m still here and will still write things. It’s nice to know that you’re still out there watching the repeats of my old posts while you wait patiently for new ones.

Samuel

June 21st, 2010 at 06:13am


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