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Daily Archives: April 29th, 2009

29 April 2009 8:05am

More than half of employees in the Australian finance profession have had to take on extra tasks after staff cuts, but employers are failing to put in place countering work/life balance initiatives, a survey has found.

Almost one in two accounting and finance professionals (48%) works in a department affected by restructuring, according to Robert Half’s research, which involved 366 Australians (and 4,830 workers worldwide).

Some 58 per cent have taken on extra responsibilities as a result of consolidation, and 49 per cent report increased workloads (Australia was second only to Singapore in this regard, where 58% of workers had higher workloads).

Roughly in line with these figures, almost half (48%) of workers are reporting greater stress, the survey says. Some 33 per cent also report lower morale.

Robert Half found that despite these numbers, only 13 per cent of companies have introduced programs to manage work/life balance, and just 35 per cent have increased the level of communication between managers and staff.

According to David Jones, the managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific, the one rule that employers should currently be living by is: “you can’t over-communicate in tough times”.

He acknowledges that communication can be more challenging when employees and managers are fearful for their jobs, and suggests giving people the opportunity to ask questions anonymously, “in an open forum whereby questions are submitted in an envelope so nobody knows who’s asking [them]. This ensures managers are made aware of the core issues in their departments and gives them the opportunity to respond.

“Without these sorts of initiatives, managers are often left in the dark and staff continue to feel insecure or unappreciated, leading to a decline in productivity,” he notes.

April 29, 2009 12:01am

SOUTH Australia is on alert and braced for the arrival of swine flu.

Chief medical officer Paddy Phillips said every reported flu case would be investigated and the state would not be caught off-guard.

“While this is a serious situation we’re well prepared,” he said yesterday.

“We’ve been preparing for a situation like this for several years.

“We’re asking people who’ve been to the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and who’ve got headaches, fevers, aches and pains and who have flu-like symptoms, to attend one of the designated hospitals – that’s the Royal Adelaide, the Women’s and Children’s, Flinders hospital and in the country, Berri, Port Lincoln, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta and Whyalla (hospitals).”

Staff at those hospitals have received extra training and equipment to deal with a flu epidemic.

Today, posters will appear at emergency department entrances warning recent international travellers with flu symptoms to don masks before entering the hospital.

Professor Phillips appealed for anyone who was experiencing flu-like symptoms to isolate themselves.

“Wearing a mask is not part of our culture (but) if someone has a respiratory tract infection of any type it can reduce the spread to other people,” he said.

Pharmacies contacted yesterday said they had face masks in stock but were yet to see any significant increase in requests for them.

In 2007, the Health Department devised a plan to deal with pandemic influenza.

The plan estimates an “attack rate of 25 per cent” would result in 46,000 new cases a week and 2600 deaths over two months.

During a pandemic, “border nurses” would be stationed at the airport to screen international arrivals for influenza.

Designated flu clinics would be established, as well as fever checkpoints at hospitals and surgeries.

University of South Australia microbiologist Mary Barton, who researches zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases, said Australia appeared to be taking “appropriate action”.

It was too soon to tell whether swine flu would develop to pandemic proportions.

“It’s a wait and see,” she said.

“It could just be a new strain of flu that isn’t very nice.”

April 29, 2009 12:01am
SANTOS will lay off more than 50 staff because of the global financial crisis and low oil prices.

Another 90 or so contractors would also lose their jobs.

An email sent to staff yesterday by chief executive David Knox said the company had recently completed a review of the business, leading to the elimination of some roles.

“We have tried to minimise the impact on our employees by reducing both external recruitment activity and the size of our contractor base,” Mr Knox writes in the email, obtained by The Advertiser.

“We have also initiated a redundancy program today that will affect less than 60 employees.

“This process is now underway and I expect that most of those affected will have had conversations with their leaders by tomorrow afternoon.”

“I also want to reassure you that, while we must always continue to review our operations, what we have done to date has been thorough and extensive and I hope sufficient to position Santos to weather this economic storm.”

In addition to the redundancies, 70 staff were offered alternative roles, including several at the company’s Gladstone liquefied natural gas (GLNG) project in Queensland.

Santos employs about 2000 people across its operations in South Australia, Queensland, and Indonesia.

Santos spokesman Matthew Doman said yesterday the redundancies were across all levels and operations.

Santos made a net profit of $1.7 billion in 2008, however almost $1.2 billion of that came from the sale of a 40 per cent stake in its GLNG project.

April 29, 2009 12:01am

UP TO 40 service and mechanical jobs will be created as a result of MTU Detroit Diesel Australia’s relocation to a new, green facility at Edinburgh Parks.

Premier Mike Rann yesterday opened the new state-of-the-art facility with Transport Minister Patrick Conlon and MTU Detroit Diesel Australia president Doug Seneshen.

MTU Detroit supplies high-powered engines to the defence sector for patrol boats, frigates and armoured vehicles.

The Edinburgh location will help the company grow its business.

MTU is a world leader in low-emission diesel technology and alternative fuel, including commercial fuel cells for power generators. It also services the mining, construction, power, agriculture and transport sectors.

“The move to Edinburgh Parks has offered a major upgrade for all of our Adelaide customers and employees,” Mr Seneshen said. “As a leader in high-performance and high-technology engines in Australia, it is essential we invest in world-class facilities.”

The new Adelaide facility is an indication of the company’s

April 28, 2009 09:30pm

SOUTH Australia is well positioned to win the lion’s share of a predicted naval ship-building boom over the next 40 years.

The Federal Government is preparing to unveil its long-awaited Defence White Paper, outlining the future direction of defence policy and laying out tens of billions of dollars in high-tech defence acquisitions.

Defence analysts expect the White Paper, which could be released as early as today, to set out plans not only to replace the six Collins-class submarines, but also a virtual doubling of the underwater fleet once the first new subs enter service after 2020.

A move to bigger surface ships is also on the cards, according to sources.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, when in opposition, committed to build the next generation of submarines in Adelaide.

But the likelihood that the size of the submarine fleet will be doubled is a potential boon for the state. Members of Canberra’s defence community also expect the White Paper to call for a new class of larger “destroyer class” surface ships capable of much greater flexibility than the smaller frigate-sized vessels currently used.

Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James said the widely expected move to use some larger ships with greater “sea-keeping” abilities made good sense.

He said that would be a change from the Hawke and Keating governments’ thinking which had “saddled the navy with ships that are too small”.

“Bigger ships aren’t that more expensive to build and operate but they’re much more capable,” Mr James said.

Construction of the new ships would represent billions of dollars in extra contracts and could be split between shipyards in SA and Victoria.

The White Paper, the first such document since 2000, may also set the future for some of the smaller military bases like Adelaide’s Keswick, Warradale and Woodside barracks.,22606,25395863-2682,00.html

Mark Metherell, Phillip Hudson and Jonathan Dart
April 29, 2009 – 8:47AM

THE Federal Government has secured sweeping powers to combat swine flu as the number of possible cases under investigation in Australia was lowered from 111 to 91 this morning.

The Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, announced last night the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, had consented to new powers allowing health officials to detain and disinfect people suspected of having the swine flu.

Melb passengers quarantined
Passengers with any flu-like symptoms are being quarantined at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

Concern spreads over swine flu
Global concern spreads over swine flu; Perth IGA store robbed at gunpoint and 9/11 plane scare over New York.


At a glance

Australia – 91 possible cases

New Zealand – three confirmed cases, 40 people in isolation.

Mexico – over 150 deaths, 1600 suspected cases

Canada – 13 confirmed cases

USA – 65 confirmed cases

Costa Rica – 1 confirmed case

Spain – 2 confirmed cases

Scotland – 2 confirmed cases

Israel – 2 confirmed cases

The move, which Ms Roxon said was precautionary and gave “reserve-like powers”, came as officials were seeking to contact 22 Australians, eight of them from NSW, aboard a flight from Mexico to Auckland at the weekend.

On the same flight were 10 New Zealand students, at least three of whom were confirmed last night to have swine flu.

Apart from the 22, another 69 Australians, including 10 from NSW, are being tested for the flu which has proved to be relatively mild in confirmed United States cases, but has been associated with more than 150 deaths in Mexico. There are more than 1600 suspected cases there.

Ms Roxon said there had been no confirmed cases in Australia and results of tests should be known in 24 to 48 hours. She said it had taken some time to identify those Australians on the flight from Mexico, and state authorities were now seeking them and they would be tested.

The Government has also upgraded the quarantine regime to level four, to boost efforts to delay the entry of swine flu into Australia.

The new powers, which extend existing quarantine laws to swine flu, would enable the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop, to put people under surveillance and enforce quarantine measures on planes and ships.

Ms Roxon said about 4800 people flew into Australia each day from the Americas, but yesterday only four possible cases were identified, and only one of those would need to be tested.

Yesterday authorities stepped up other precautions affecting both blood donors and travel to Mexico.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service said it would defer potential blood donors for a period of two weeks from the time they left Mexico as an “added safety measure” to cover the incubation phase of swine flu.

The Government has upgraded travel warnings for the second successive day, and is now asking people to reconsider any plans to travel to Mexico.

NSW’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said all 10 suspected cases had undergone testing, and the results were expected today rather than at the end of the week, as was initially announced.

Dr Chant said NSW had activated its pandemic plan, as had other states. Suspected victims were given the antiviral drug Tamiflu and were ordered to stay at home until results were known.

“These people would have been to Mexico, the US or Canada and obviously we are monitoring their situations closely,” she said.

Ms Roxon, stood by the decision of Australian experts not to declare pandemic status, as the US had done, saying it was a decision for the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer.

In the US there had already been a large number of confirmed cases and travel between Mexico and the US was common. “So we need to make decisions that are appropriate for our circumstances,” Ms Roxon said.

Jonathan Dart and Erik Jensen
April 29, 2009

Risky business … safety equipment supplier Todd Saunders said one company bought enough masks for a month. Photo: Domino Postiglione

A CASE of swine flu has yet to be confirmed in Australia but Todd Saunders is already working overtime to combat the virus.

Sales of protective face masks have boomed in the past two days, said Mr Saunders, the general manager of safety equipment supplier Big Safety. One of his corporate clients has placed an order for masks to protect its entire workforce in the case of an emergency.

Melb passengers quarantined
Passengers with any flu-like symptoms are being quarantined at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

“They’re planning to have enough masks for the next month for a workforce of 50,” Mr Saunders said. “We’ve also had a rush overnight of people ordering the masks.”

Only a handful of people arriving at Sydney Airport yesterday wore face masks. They came from Hong Kong and Japan – neither are flu-affected countries. “The news was quite excited,” said Hiroko Rosse, who was wearing a mask on a flight from Japan. “It was just to be safe. You never know.”

NSW nurses, seconded to the federal response, swept planes for people complaining of symptoms that “met the case definition for swine influenza.”

Five people were take to hospital for further testing, bringing the state total to 10. None of the cases have been confirmed. Two have been cleared. “They [the nurses] were going to everyone individually, checking symptoms,” said Grant Charlesworth, who had flown back to Sydney from Los Angeles. “They [the cabin crew] were making a lot of announcements an hour or two before we landed. They went through a whole heap of procedure: ‘If you have any flu symptoms, let the air crew know. If you have any symptoms in the next week, contact a doctor.’ ”

Four people complained of symptoms on Mr Charlesworth’s flight. None were deemed to require further testing. Once off the plane, customs procedures continued as normal.

Direct Health Solutions, a company that manages health issues for corporate clients including ANZ and the NAB, has had a 50 per cent increase in health inquiries, with 150 calls taken on Monday alone.

“We’re having a lot of enquiries,” the chief executive, Paul Dundon, said. “We’re running a 24-7 nurse call centre supporting around 20,000 people and there have been a lot of calls from people calling about their symptoms,” he said. “We’ve been flat out.”

The outbreak has also had a big impact on internet traffic, with Nielsen Online survey finding that almost 2 per cent of Twitter conversations involved the subject.

By Melissa Maddison

Posted 1 hour 37 minutes ago

Map: Brisbane 4000
A major coal mining company says more job losses are likely if changes are not made to the proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The chief executive officer of Anglo Coal, Seamus French, told a Senate inquiry into the proposed scheme that as it currently stands, it would have a significant impact on its operations and that assistance would be needed to protect coal mining jobs.

Mr French told the hearing in Brisbane yesterday that under the current design, it would cost Anglo Coal $118 million per year to buy carbon permits – which he says would have wiped out the company’s average annual profit over the past five years.

He says there is currently no technology available that would allow Anglo to reduce emissions from its operations.

Mr French is calling for the scheme to be amended to either include coal mining as an exempt industry, or phase in the auction of carbon permits.