FW: snippets, Fri.21.4.17
From: Roderick Smith
Date:

-----Original Message-----
From: Roderick Smith [mailto:rodsmith@werple.net.au]
Sent: Friday, 21 April 2017 10:33 AM
To: 'transportdownunder@yahoogroups.com'
Subject: snippets, Fri.21.4.17

Roderick

Melbourne Express: Friday, April 21, 2017 .
6.34 All lanes have reopened on Victoria Street in Abbotsford.
The eastbound lanes had been closed at the location because a stolen Jaguar
crashed into a barrier there after a dramatic police chase this morning (see
posts below) Channel Nine has footage of the Jaguar crash in Abbotsford at
the intersection of Hoddle Street and Victoria Street. The eastbound lanes
of Victoria Street have been closed.
Police have arrested a man and a woman is in hospital after a dramatic chase
on Punt Road about 2.50 this morning.
It's believed officers had been monitoring the man for several days and
caught up with him at a service station this morning, attempting to box in
his vehicle with stolen registration plates.
The man drove off, hitting two police vehicles before losing control and
smashing the Jaguar into a pole.
He fled on foot, with police reportedly using a taser and pepper spray to
arrest him. The man left a female passenger behind in the vehicle and she
was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The eastbound lanes on Victoria Street have been closed while police clear
the scene.
VicRoads says that all lanes are closed eastbound in Victoria Street near
Hoddle Street after a police incident.
It sounds as though a man crashed a car into a barrier at the instersection
of Hoddle St and Victoria Street.
<www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-express-friday-april-21-2017-20170420-
gvoiab.html>

Federal budget 2017: The next boom is under way - before another bust .
A Caterpillar and Komatsu cavalry is arriving just in time to save the next
two federal budgets from the effects of slowing residential building
approvals, solving one of Treasurer Scott Morrison's fiscal dilemmas.
National spending on transport infrastructure is in the process of soaring
73 per cent from last financial year to 2018-19, according to industry
research company Macromonitor.
More videos Michael Pascoe: Building the future, Australia's spending on
road and rail is picking up the slack from housing construction. Michael
Pascoe comments.
Spending on road and rail hit a cyclical low of about $19 billion in
2015-16. In constant dollars, the cycle is expected to peak at $33 billion
in 2018-19. That spending would more than cover a 10 per cent decline from
last year's $63 billion worth of new residential building.
The transport infrastructure surge is big enough to add credence to this
week's more optimistic International Monetary Fund global forecast that our
economy will grow by a healthy 3.1 per cent this year, producing a fall in
the unemployment rate to 5.2 per cent from the present 5.9 per cent.
Road and rail work should cover for any immediate reduction in residential
work. Photo: Rohan Thomson .
The IMF's stated reasons for the upgraded forecast after discussions with
Treasury and the Reserve Bank were limited to an improved global outlook -
but more than a prettier global picture is required to make up for
stubbornly low non-resources investment, weak wages growth and the methods
regulators are being forced to use to hose down the housing market.
With the government locked into refusing to limit negative gearing to new
properties, there's little beyond rhetoric to encourage supply while
investors are being curtailed.
Thus, just as the housing boom helped pick up the slack as the resources
construction boom went bust, road and rail work should cover for any
immediate reduction in residential work.
Among other things, Macromonitor collates transport construction data,
adding the confirmed projects and the expected projects and then adjusting
for the overall public sector funding cycle.
Spending on road and rail hit a cyclical low of about $19 billion in
2015-16. Photo: Ryan Pierse .
Macromonitor says our spending on roads has tended to grow by about 5 per
cent after inflation over the past three decades, but a number of major
projects are making the cyclical swing unusually large. Such wild swings
limit the economic benefits of the investment.
Despite the rhetoric of the Abbott government, spending bottomed in 2015-16
and it's the states, led by NSW and Victoria, that have been stepping up the
pace.
The not-so-good news is that, on present government policies, the
Macromonitor analysts expect a steady slide in road and rail spending back
to $24 billion in the 2024-25 year, reducing growth. We'll need to come up
with another trick by then.
But that challenge is a couple of elections away. In the meantime, the
infrastructure spend is particularly set to carry the NSW and Victorian
economies higher, reinforcing the new "two-speed" economy.
The increasingly wild swings of the cycle also demonstrate the failed
opportunity of a more rational approach to infrastructure investment. We're
not gaining as much from the stimulus as we could.
In a landmark speech after Joe Hockey's 2015 budget, the RBA's
then-governor, Glenn Stevens, set out the case for better planning of our
infrastructure spending beyond the reach of political pork barrelling, the
case the RBA continues to push.
Said Stevens: "As often remarked, infrastructure spending has a role to play
in sustaining growth and also in generating confidence. I am doubtful of our
capacity to deploy this sort of spending as a short-term counter-cyclical
device. The evidence of history is that it takes too long to start and then
too long to stop.
"But it would be confidence-enhancing if there was an agreed story about a
long-term pipeline of infrastructure projects, surrounded by appropriate
governance on project selection, risk-sharing between public and private
sectors at varying stages of production and ownership, and appropriate
pricing for use of the finished product."
The projects would have an effect across the economy, Stevens said.
"The suppliers would feel it was worth their while to improve their offering
if projects were not just one-offs. The financial sector would be attracted
to the opportunities for financing and asset ownership. The real economy
would benefit from the steady pipeline of construction work - as opposed to
a boom and bust. It would also benefit from confidence about improved
efficiency of logistics over time resulting from the better infrastructure.
Amenity would be improved for millions of ordinary citizens in their daily
lives. We could unleash large potential benefits that at present are not
available because of congestion in our transportation networks."
The usually-reserved governor was blunt about infrastructure projects being
held back by political, rather than financial, factors.
"The impediments to this outcome are not financial. The funding would be
available, with long-term interest rates the lowest we have ever seen or are
likely to.
"The impediments are in our decision-making processes and, it seems, in our
inability to find political agreement on how to proceed.
"Physical infrastructure is, of course, only part of what we need. The
confidence-enhancing narrative needs to extend to skills, education,
technology, the ability and freedom to respond to incentives, the ability to
adapt and the willingness to take on risk. It is in these areas too, where
there are various initiatives in place or planned, but which often do not
get enough attention, that we need to create a positive dynamic of
confidence, innovation and investment.
"That is the upside we need to create."
That ideal has not changed, nor have the impediments to it. By the looks of
Macromonitor's graphs, we are again going through a boom-and-bust cycle,
getting out of the jail of an immediate problem, but missing another
opportunity to realise the nation's great potential.
<www.theage.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2017-the-next-boom
-is-under-way--before-another-bust-20170420-gvp11z.html>

Government departments fattening pockets of former public servants -
including an ex-premier.
Daily Telegraph, Fri.21.4.17.
..Workers' comp: Kooky claims from public servants are costing us .Sweeping
public service job cuts on way GOVERNMENT departments are handing out
hundreds of millions of dollars to private companies in a secretive gravy
train often fattening the pockets of high-ranking former public servants -
-including an ex-premier and -director-generals.
In one case, a former fat cat was paid $75,000 for one month's work less
than a year after he left the same department as part of cost-cutting.
In another example, former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell was paid $52,500 by
the Department of Social Services for "strategic advice and review
services". It was for four months work and the department refused to say why
it couldn't be done in-house.
A special investigation into every consultancy contract across our 15
biggest federal departments during the past financial year calls into
question how so much of our money can change hands without even the most
basic public accountability.
The expose uncovered several instances of departments handing out tens of
thousands to former bosses for just a few months' work. And the boards of
many companies that routinely win lucrative contracts are stacked with
former public servants.
Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell was paid $52,500. Picture: Cameron
Richardson The Daily Telegraph is not suggesting any wrongdoing by the
consultants concerned. But what is concerning is how the departments refuse
to answer simple questions or publicly release the work taxpayers' are
paying for.
And nearly all refused to explain why the work couldn't simply be done
in-house.
Many departments refused to answer any questions, with some telling this
newspaper to use freedom of information laws if we wanted more information
than the "short descriptions" available on the AusTender website.
How some of the gravy train breaks down.
These vague descriptions include nothing more than a time frame, the
consultant's name and generic titles for contracts, such as "strategic
advice" or "review services".
There is also nothing forcing departments to release information for
contracts worth less than $10,000.
Dr Jim Watterston..
This allows departments to annually award stacks of tenders without any
public record whatsoever. The Daily Telegraph can today reveal shocking
details as part of a push for greater transparency.
In one case, the Defence Department paid David Gould $75,000 for just one
month's work less than 12 months after he left a job heading the
department's controversial submarines division. The one-month consultancy,
won in March 2016, was for "management and advisory services" as "skills
(are) currently unavailable within agency".
It can also be revealed that national wind farm commissioner Andrew Dyer
scored his plum role via a consultancy worth $676,500 registered to Collins
Street Managment, where he is the sole director. His annual fee was reported
as $205,000, but it can now be revealed taxpayers' will be slugged $61,500
for GST too. The Department of Attorney-General paid former NSW
director-general Laurence Geoffrey Glanfield $83,744 for "independent review
services". The money was for less than four months of work. The department
wouldn't elaborate on what the "review services" were.
In another case, the Health Department paid former WA Health
director-general Peter Flett $61,600 to "facilitate NPAAC (National
Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council) drafting supervision standards".
Dr Flett, who controversially quit the WA health system in 2009, only worked
for four months too.
Former Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Ian Watt was paid
$21,198 for "business intelligence consulting services" as part of a
national security review. The money came from the DPMC. The consultancy was
for just two months. Watt was DPMC secretary from September 2011 to November
2014.
Former Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour was receiving a $5.6 million salary.
Picture: David Geraghty Ernst & Young won mega-contracts worth hundreds of
thousands of dollars across several departments during the 2015-16 financial
year.
In February 2014, it announced Andrew Metcalfe was joining the firm after "a
distinguished career in the Australian Public Service".
This included being Department of Immigration secretary and Department of
the Prime Minister and Cabinet deputy secretary.
The Australian Council for Educational Research - which is an "independent,
not-for-profit research organisation" - was given $426,274 to conduct a
"teaching and learning international survey". The ACER's board of -directors
includes current Queensland Department of Education and Training
director-general Jim Watterston.
NSW Senator Sam Dastyari. Picture: AAP.
Meanwhile, the Department of Communications spent $37,999.90 so a company
called Watermark Search International could "identify potential candidates
for the Australia Post board".
Australia Post was recently in the spotlight after it was revealed its
former head, Ahmed Fahour, was receiving a $5.6 million salary.
NSW Senator Sam Dastyari last night said this "secret society" had to
change. "Every dollar wasted is a dollar not going to hospitals, schools and
the services people rely on.
"The public has a right to know and the government has done everything
possible to make the system complicated so no one can get to the bottom of
it. Frankly, it's time the Senate holds the government departments to
account ... all options should be on the table," he said.
<www.heraldsun.com.au/news/government-departments-fattening-pockets-of-forme
r-public-servants-including-an-expremier/news-story/e8f5ff1a1995f44f2e6fd65b
81d21cc9>

Experienced train drivers forced into difficult psychometric testing to
qualify for job at Queensland Rail.
Courier-Mail April 21, 2017.
EXPERIENCED train drivers are being forced to solve maths puzzles difficult
enough to stump even university-level mathematics students to qualify for a
job at Queensland Rail.
The puzzles, obtained by The Courier-Mail, are part of the online
psychometric test experienced train drivers, including qualified drivers
working for private freight operator Aurizon, must complete to reach the
next level of recruitment and score a job interview.
Aurizon drivers seeking a QR job have expressed dismay at the difficulty of
some test questions and query why it has taken nearly three weeks to learn
whether they passed.
One driver, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two colleagues had
given up waiting and accepted jobs for interstate operators.
An example of a puzzle used in Queensland Rail psychometric testing. The
answer is the E symbol (second from left).
It comes amid the ongoing chronic driver shortage that forced QR to
indefinitely adopt a dramatically pared back timetable to avoid a repeat of
last year's mass service cancellations.
University of Queensland mathematics professor Peter Adams rated the puzzles
so difficult that he believed some of his own students studying advanced
maths would fail.
"I suspect that people who weren't mathematicians or computer scientists or
logicians would find them hard," he said.
"My students would find them hard."
The test gave applicants just a few minutes to solve each of the questions
and only one chance at the test.
Did you guess that the answer is the middle box?
Concerns about the psychometric testing come after The Courier-Mail last
month revealed dozens of Aurizon drivers' job applications had been rejected
without explanation. This is despite drivers having qualified to apply as
previous employees of QR.
Transport Minister Jackie Trad was forced to intervene by directing QR to
reassess the applications.
QR chief executive officer Nick Easy defended the recruitment process
yesterday, saying psychometric testing had been in use since 2011 to
determine drivers' suitability.
He said independent assessment had found the testing had reduced safety
risks. Ms Trad also defended the testing, saying it was international best
practice.
An example of a puzzle used in Queensland Rail psychometric testing. The
answer is on the far right.
The February driver recruitment advertising campaign sparked controversy
after QR ignored a key recommendation of the Strachan Inquiry into its
driver crisis by restricting job applicants to experienced former QR train
drivers.
Queensland Rail debacle continues to frustrate commuters.
The inquiry recommended scrapping controversial closed-shop hiring rules,
which gave first preference to QR guards, by opening the jobs to all
applicants. It had found QR operated with a built-in driver shortage
preference to pump up paid overtime for drivers, which was linked to
restrictions on being able to recruit train crew externally.
The inquiry also heavily criticised the degree of union control over hiring
and crewing at QR.
Rail Tram & Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan yesterday did not return
calls.
<www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/experiences-train-drivers-forced-int
o-difficult-psychometric-testing-to-qualify-for-job-at-queensland-rail/news-
story/ddd7f2142f847687b1d7986ef3f23506> 62 comments, mainly anti Labor.