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Daily Archives: July 9th, 2012


GG 23/12
19 February 2012

Campaign targets 1.5 million potential voters

Special Minister of State will today launch the Year of Enrolment – an Australian Electoral Commission campaign to enrol the 1.5 million eligible Australians who are not on the Commonwealth roll.

Major targets will be young people and Indigenous Australians.

“Each month more than 22,000 Australian citizens turn 18,” Mr Gray said. “Based on current estimates, only 36 per cent of 18 year-olds are enrolled to vote.

“Enrolment has declined since about the mid-90s. This decline requires a response from both young Australians and the AEC.

“The challenge, not only for the AEC, but for us all, is to arrest this trend of declining enrolments and engage with the growing number of disenfranchised Australians.”

Mr Gray was speaking before the official launch of the Year of Enrolment by the electoral commission, which is marking the 100th year of enrolment and the 50th year that Indigenous Australians became entitled to vote in federal elections.

A DVD on the history of the Indigenous vote will be released and 25 field staff will be encouraging more Indigenous people to enrol.

The broader campaign for enrolment will include online advertising, a mail-out to Australian households and a special stamp issued later this month by Australia Post.

“Ironically, young people are certainly not reluctant to express their voice in other areas of their life – tweeting, blogging, social media, voting for anything and everything online,” Mr Gray said.

“But when it comes to voting for their elected representatives, something is turning them off.”


  • From: AAP
  • June 26, 2012 4:20PM

Related Coverage

Queensland’s floods, Cyclone Yasi and the ongoing drought in Australia’s southwest are signs of the urgent need to adapt to climate change, a leading researcher says.

NATIONAL Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) director Jean Palutikof says mankind has a lot of work to do to ensure it copes with the turbulence of a shifting climate.

“(Climate change) is insidious and essentially non-linear, and has the capacity to deliver shocks and surprises which we are currently not well protected against,” Professor Palutikof told the Climate Adaption in Action conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“Decision makers in government, business and the community are faced with making choices now that will determine how successfully we manage the impacts of climate change in the future.”

A host of national and international researchers are sharing their ideas on how individuals, businesses and governments can cope with the impacts of climate change.

CSIRO chairman Simon McKeon lamented mankind’s “love affair with fossil fuel”, saying that without it, the conference likely wouldn’t have been needed in the first place.

He also said endless debate in the media over the plausibility of climate change had hampered action.

“Change is hard enough, but when science isn’t given a fair go in the media it’s doubly hard,” he said.

Preventing food shortages and managing natural disasters are among the topics being tackled by some 700 people at the three-day conference.

Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said in a brief video message that the impacts of climate change were increasingly demanding a more proactive approach to wild weather in Australia.

“Building resilience is about preventing and preparing for natural disasters, not just cleaning up afterwards,” he said.

Indigenous Wurundjeri tribe elder, Aunty Diane Kerr, offered the simplest – and perhaps most telling – advice as she offered a traditional welcome to the land: “If you do care for the country, the country will care for you”.

The conference, jointly hosted by the CSIRO and NCCARF, continues until Thursday.


  • From:
  • December 12, 2011 9:42AM

  • Recruiter sends jobseeker rejection email
  • Hits reply all, sends email to 4000 people
  • “You’re too stupid to get a job, even in banking”

stressed office worker

Recruiter fired for sending email saying “please f*** off”. Picture: ThinkStock Source: Supplied 

Manchester-based Gary Chaplin is now seeking a new job himself after being forced to quit his job, and £200,000 salary, for his expletive-ridden message.

Manos Katsampoukas mass-mailed recruiters, a move that lit Mr Chaplin’s short fuse and resulted in a nasty response, the Daily Mail reports.

But Mr Chaplin, in addition to over-stepping the mark, made the cardinal sin: he replied all.

“I think I speak for all 4000 people you have emailed when I say, ‘Thanks for your CV’ – it’s nice to know you are taking this seriously,” he said.

“Please f*** off … you are too stupid to get a job, even in banking. Yours hitting the delete button, Have a nice day!”



Ok, not this blog’s usual blogtastic blog content, but very sensible advice to those jetsetters amongst the readership.
High Flyer

David Flynn is a business travel expert and the editor of Australian Business Traveller

View more entries from High Flyer

More than half of the world's lost bags meet their fate during transfers from one aircraft to another.More than half of the world’s lost bags meet their fate during transfers from one aircraft to another.

Every business traveller and frequent flyer knows the scene. You arrive at your destination but your bag never made it onto your plane. Maybe it’s somehow made its way to another airport entirely.

We’ve all been there, done that and got nothing but the T-shirt we wore on the plane to show for it.

Pack your carry-on bag as if you expect your checked luggage to be delayed.

An analysis of annual Air Transport Industry Baggage Report by Flight Centre found that one piece of luggage for every 100 passengers loses its way at the airport.

This represents 25 million pieces of luggage ‘mishandled’ around the world per year. 25 million bags that are delayed, damaged and in some cases actually lost (or stolen), never to be seen again.

“For every Boeing 737 aircraft, carrying around 189 passengers, approximately two people aboard will lose an item of luggage,” says Flight Centre’s Colin Bowman.

I’ve been blessedly fortunate on my travels, and even as I write this I am touching serious wood to ensure my luck remains.

Only once have I had a bag go AWOL en route to another country, and that was due to a too-tight connection at Hong Kong swapping between flights.

That bag arrived the next morning, but left me without a clean change of clothes for a dinner that night – a sin for which the airline coughed up sufficient cash to buy me a new shirt and a quick press of my pants.

Lesson one: pack your carry-on bag as if you expect your checked luggage to be lost.

The more you put into your checked luggage the more you stand to be inconvenienced if it goes astray.

Don’t go overboard, of course. Just stick to the essentials.

On international flights with a connection, the chance of lost luggage increases dramatically. More than half of the world’s lost bags meet their fate during transfers from one aircraft to another.

So on all trips with a transfer I’ve upgraded from a laptop bag to a roller which stows into the overhead bins.

That gives me room for a clean shirt, a pair of trousers plus a few other items that I’ll need on the job.

Here are some more tips to reduce the risk of your bag becoming a statistic in next year’s lost luggage report.

Before you get to the airport pull out your smartphone and take a photo of your checked luggage. Keep that photo on your phone. If the bag is lost en route it’s much easier to show that photo to the baggage claim desk rather than try than try and describe the bag.

In fact, take some snaps of the contents of the bag as well. Many lost luggage forms ask you to state the contents, and if your bag ends up permanently lost then you’ll have a better case with your travel insurance.

Slip your business card in the transparent card window on the bag tag and ensure you remove any previous baggage tags from your case. Keep an eye out for those little barcodes that some airlines peel off the main tag and stick on the back and sides of your luggage.

Doing the self-check in and bag-drop routine? Make sure to peel off all the backing from the tag’s adhesive section. Don’t leave a strip waving in the breeze, because the tag is more likely to fall off – or be yanked off by the moving parts in the baggage system.

If you’re entitled to a priority bag tag because you’re flying in business or first class, or are a top-tier frequent flyer with your airline, make sure the check-in staff attach the appropriate fluorescent priority tag.

Considering that 85 per cent of all mishandled bags were delayed or diverted at the point of baggage handling, that tag could be what keeps your bag on the right track.

Check in staff sometimes overlook tagging based on your frequent flyer status when you’re flying with an airline which belongs to the same alliance as the one responsible for your status. For example, if you’re a Qantas Platinum on an American Airlines, BA or Cathay Pacific flight, you may have to ask for your bags to be appropriately tagged.

If you’re in the market for new luggage, buy coloured or patterned bags that will stand out from the crowd. A black 22-inch wheeled carry-on bag in a pile of lost luggage is like a needle in a haystack.

I’ve even heard of passengers who’ve had their non-descript black bag taken off a plane because it was assumed to be the black bag of a ‘fail to board’ passenger who didn’t show up for the flight.

Avoid tying loose ribbons to your black bag, however. These are more likely to get your bag stuck in the luggage system.

What’s your experience with lost luggage? How have you fared with airline reimbursement and what are your own tips for helping your bags end up on the same flight as you?

David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.

Read more:


July 9, 2012 – 2:04PM

Treasurer Michael Baird ... managed the first step by telling the truth about dopey tax on insurance premiums, but has failed to deliver the second leg.NSW Treasurer Michael Baird … managed the first step by telling the truth about dopey tax on insurance premiums, but has failed to deliver the second leg.

Some tax reforms are so bleedingly obvious that a disinterested observer must doubt the sanity and/or integrity of governments that fail to implement them.

An alternative reason for failure, though, might be the depressing rise of “popularism” – a bottom-up takeover of the political process by opinion poll and social media that leaves government timid and leaderless.

You might think a competent Treasurer would be capable of saying: Right, that was the clear problem, here’s the best solution. And you would be wrong.

To keep the topic out of the religious fervour that fogs federal politics, let’s use an example from the ranks of state governments and then move to the general.

And to remove the imperative of imminent political survival, we’ll use an example of a government enjoying a massive majority dealing with an issue that is a no-brainer for reform just to catch up with what happens in the rest of the country.

(If you’re not from NSW, stick with the story because there is a broader message with a suggestion that there are both technological and generational reasons for the demise of political leadership.)

The O’Farrell coalition government might be redefining “cautious” as it slowly proceeds on several fronts to improve what it inherited in March last year. I’m assured reform is happening, various ducks are being arranged in rows, but it hasn’t been rushed perhaps in deference to the trainer wheels on ministers and the new regime’s suspicions about the public service.

However, some issues are too simple to deserve the pussy-footing treatment. Exhibit A: the current practice of funding nearly three-quarters of the emergency services budget by taxing the people who are responsible enough to take out insurance.

It took tragic bushfires and a Royal Commission to get Victoria to find the obvious path on this one, but they got there. NSW is still trying.

Last week Treasurer Mike Baird bravely announced what he loosely called a “discussion paper” on Funding Our Emergency Services and called for “community feedback to develop a better, fairer and more efficient way” of funding said services.

Damning view

The treasurer’s media release took just four short paragraphs to comprehensively damn the system he has been in charge of for 15 months and will enforce for several months more:

“The current system has serious weaknesses and is economically inefficient. Taxing insurance increases the price of insurance and can lead some people to under-insure and others not to insure at all.

“The system is also unfair because people who are either not insured or are under-insured do not contribute to the funding of our emergency services, but still receive the same coverage as those who do pay insurance.

“NSW property owners who insure their properties are subsidising the 36 per cent of households who don’t have home contents insurance – the highest rate of non-insurance in Australia.

“A better and fairer system would spread the costs across the whole community. The Government is considering a number of ways to replace the current insurance-based levy to bring NSW into line with most States and Territories.”

(It goes without saying that the series of Labor governments before O’Farrell deserve condemnation for failing to get as far as issuing such a media release, but that miserable administration is now irrelevant.)

It was coalition policy in last year’s election campaign to have a look at this inherently bad tax. That the promise was only to consider doing something, instead of a straight-out pledge to ditch it, also says plenty about wimp campaigns.

So, with all the expertise and expensive consultants available to it, never mind the off-the-shelf solutions available to it from what every other state and territory does, you might think a competent Treasurer would be capable of saying: “Right, that was the clear problem, here’s the best solution”.

Leadership AWOL

And you would be wrong.

Instead there will be three months of “community consultation” which looks suspiciously like a mixture of push-polling, preparing the ground for discounts for National voters and backside-covering so that Treasurer Baird can claim the public, not the government, is imposing a “big new tax” on property owners.

Given that this small, beneficial and overdue tax reform was indeed greeted by the media with the new tax angle – “NSW eyes emergency services tax” – you might have some sympathy for Baird’s mimsy positioning, but it also represents a lack of leadership.

Baird’s on-line community feedback effort very neatly fits a pattern of political weakness that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman blames for the rise of popularism:

“It’s the über-ideology of our day. Read the polls, track the blogs, tally the Twitter feeds and Facebook postings and go precisely where the people are, not where you think they need to go. If everyone is “following,” who is leading?” asks Friedman.

Baird’s online community feedback form seems to go a step further, pushing the technology out to the public under the name of consultation.

Too hard

With reference to the much bigger present failures of European and American governments, Friedman suggests both technology and generational change generate governments incapable of making hard decisions:

“The wiring of the world through social media and Web-enabled cellphones is changing the nature of conversations between leaders and the led everywhere. We’re going from largely one-way conversations – top-down – to overwhelmingly two-way conversations – bottom-up and top-down.

This has many upsides: more participation, more innovation and more transparency. But can there be such a thing as too much participation – leaders listening to so many voices all the time and tracking the trends that they become prisoners of them?

“This sentence jumped out from a Politico piece on Wednesday: “The Obama and Romney campaigns spend all day strafing each other on Twitter, all while decrying the campaign’s lack of serious ideas for a serious time. Yet at most junctures when they’ve had the opportunity to go big, they’ve chosen to go small.”

Boomers bomb

The generational thing is uncertain ground – everything has always been some generation’s fault ever since we were capable of differentiating generations – but Friedman does it nicely:

“As for the generational shift, we’ve gone from a Greatest Generation that believed in save and invest for the future to a Baby Boomer generation that believed in borrow and spend for today.

“Just contrast George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush.

“The father volunteered for World War II immediately after Pearl Harbour, was steeled as a leader during the cold war – a serious time, when politicians couldn’t just follow polls – and as president he raised taxes when fiscal prudence called for it. His Baby Boomer son avoided the draft and became the first president in US history to cut taxes in the middle of not just one war, but two.

Friedman quotes an executive coach who claims nothing inspires people more than being told the truth. That should be the minimum requirement for wannabe leaders.

In the NSW government example, Treasurer Baird has managed the first step by telling the truth about dopey tax on insurance premiums, but has failed to deliver the second leg: simply telling the public what the most efficient, fair and sensible solution is by way of a property tax and then doing it.

It means he’s a big step ahead of the rubbish he’s replaced, but still falls short of strong, honest leadership.

At the domestic federal level, it is of course worse, on both sides. Labor’s flip-flopping before the last election at the whim of opinion polls might end up being viewed as the beginning of its end, while the appalling distortions preached by the opposition about the state of the economy are a long way from truth.

Popularism indeed rules.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor.

Read more:


QUEENSLAND’S job market has flatlined and done nothing more than track broadly sideways for the best part of three years, according to the ANZ job ads series.

Queensland’s job market plunged after the global financial crisis and has yet to show any recovery despite the mining boom and its impact on engineering and construction.

Since 2009, Queensland employers have placed about 1000 advertisements a week looking for staff, well below the 3000 that were placed before the US sub-prime mortgage market imploded and sent shockwaves around the world.

An overall fall in the national job ads for June was led by Victoria and the two mining states, Queensland and Western Australia, which ANZ said was in stark contrast to the overall robust market in WA.

“It may reflect the fact that the booming mining sector has a greater tendency to use other media channels to recruit staff, including advertising overseas and in one instance, seeking many thousands of mining workers in a single advertisement,” the bank said. 



South Australia’s water sales have fallen sharply as consumers cut back their consumption by 60 billion litres. Source: Supplied

HOUSEHOLDERS are changing their habits, wiping 60 billion litres off SA Water’s sales in the last financial year.

SA Water internal documents obtained using Freedom of Information show high water prices and water-saving lessons learned from the drought have caused a slump in sales to “historical lows”.

South Australians were on target to use only 140 billion litres of water in the last financial year compared with SA Water projections before the drought and price increases of 203 billion litres.The average annual household water bill this year will be $825 compared with $547 in 2007.

Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire said he made the FoI application to see if the drought had brought about permanent water savings.

“Clearly the documents show SA Water are under pressure to get better returns to government but the community has clearly woken up that water is expensive and permanent water savings may be the only good thing to come out of the drought,” he said. 

One document shows SA Water partly blames consumer reaction to higher prices for the slump: “Quarterly billing, smart bills, December announcement of price increases and increased water awareness”. The documents also show SA Water’s disappointment with dwindling water sales, in contradiction to its public stand that water conservation is a major goal of the organisation.

In the documents each report that sales have improved is accompanied by a smiley icon and each report where sales have dropped is accompanied by a frown.

“The spin is that SA Water is committed to water saving initiatives and that is what makes them happy but the truth is, behind that, Treasury (is) demanding more and more returns so sales decreases are met with a frown,” Mr Brokenshire said.

SA Water traces the downward spiral in sales to a failure of customers to return to pre-drought consumption.

“(SA Water) … assumed demand would `bounce back’ once restrictions were lifted,” states the minutes for an SA Water board meeting scheduled to discuss 2011/12 revenue. 

Despite the reduced demand the minutes show the SA Water board asked management to explain how it planned to “maintain cash flow and profit”.


By Anita Bruzzese, Gannett

Updated 2d 4h ago

All sorts of gizmos and gadgets can help you be more productive at work, and theories abound on how you should structure your days to get more done.

Entrepreneur Wendy Woods, meditating next to her BlackBerry, says it helps her be more creative.

Entrepreneur Wendy Woods, meditating next to her BlackBerry, says it helps her be more creative.

But a new study finds that becoming more focused, productive and less stressed at work may involve nothing more than learning to meditate.

David Levy, a computer scientist and professor with the Information School at the University of Washington, found that those who had meditation training were able to stay on task longer and were less distracted. Levy and his co-authors discovered that meditation also improved test subjects’ memory while easing their stress.

Levy, who has used meditation for many years in his own life, decided to do the experiment involving the workplace after reading Darlene Cohen‘s book, “The One Who Is Not Busy: Connecting to Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way.”

“In the book she was talking about how she’s adapted some Zen training to the workplace,” he says. “For 20 years I’ve been looking about how to add balance to the workplace, and that gave me the idea for the experiment.”

Levy had one group of human resource managers undergo eight weeks of mindfulness-based meditation training. A second group got eight weeks of body-relaxation training. The third group received no initial training but then was given the same training as the first group after eight weeks.

Subjects were given a stressful test on their multitasking abilities before and after each eight-week period. They had to use email, calendars, instant-messaging, phones and word-processing tools to perform common office duties.

Researchers looked at their speed, accuracy and number of times they switched tasks. The participants also were asked to record their stress levels and memory performance while doing the jobs.

Researchers found that the meditation group not only had lower stress levels during the multitasking tests but also were able to concentrate longer without being distracted.

But for the other two groups — those who received relaxation breathing training and those who had no initial training — stress did not go down. However, when the third group received meditation training after eight weeks, their stress also decreased.

Further, those who meditated also spent more time on tasks, didn’t switch between different chores as often and took no longer to get their work done than the other participants, the study found.

“Meditation is a lot like doing reps at a gym. It strengthens your attention muscle,” Levy says.

Levy says that he knows what it feels like to be overwhelmed at work, calling himself “stunned” when he left a Palo Alto, Calif., think tank to take up academic duties.

“I kept thinking, ‘This is crazy,’ ” he says. “I do wonder why we make ourselves work this way. There’s no time to even think. We’ve gotten to a place where we’re just speeding up and we don’t do things well. We’ve got to slow down.”

While Levy says further study is needed to determine whether the meditation benefit can continue over the long term, in his own life he says meditation has helped calm his stress. He thinks it can be worth a try for workers who feel overwhelmed, distracted and stressed.

Many employers are beginning to agree. For example, Google offers “Search Inside Yourself” classes that teach mindfulness at work. Employees reportedly have given the program rave reviews and say it increases their focus and decreases stress.

“There’s an awful lot going on in this area,” Levy says. “You see it in health care, in the schools and in the workplace. It’s really turning into a serious direction and finding a place in American lives.”

For those who have not had training in meditation or mindfulness, Levy says the first step can be a simple one.

“The simplest form of mindfulness meditation I know is to just to sit and pay attention to your breathing,” he says. “To feel the actual sensations of your breathing and when you mind inevitably goes away to something else … just bring your mind back. Bring it back to the sensation of the breath again and again.”

“It really can make a difference in your life,” he says.

Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy … and How to Avoid Them,” Find an index of On the Job columns . Write to her in care of Gannett ContentOne, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22107. For a reply, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.