-----Original Message-----From: Roderick Smith [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Friday, 21 April 2017 10:33 AMTo: 'firstname.lastname@example.org'Subject: snippets, Fri.21.4.17
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 Jaguarcrashed into a barrier there after a dramatic police chase this morning (seeposts below) Channel Nine has footage of the Jaguar crash in Abbotsford atthe intersection of Hoddle Street and Victoria Street. The eastbound lanesof Victoria Street have been closed.Police have arrested a man and a woman is in hospital after a dramatic chaseon Punt Road about 2.50 this morning.It's believed officers had been monitoring the man for several days andcaught up with him at a service station this morning, attempting to box inhis vehicle with stolen registration plates.The man drove off, hitting two police vehicles before losing control andsmashing the Jaguar into a pole.He fled on foot, with police reportedly using a taser and pepper spray toarrest him. The man left a female passenger behind in the vehicle and shewas taken to hospital with serious injuries.The eastbound lanes on Victoria Street have been closed while police clearthe scene.VicRoads says that all lanes are closed eastbound in Victoria Street nearHoddle Street after a police incident.It sounds as though a man crashed a car into a barrier at the instersectionof 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 nexttwo federal budgets from the effects of slowing residential buildingapprovals, solving one of Treasurer Scott Morrison's fiscal dilemmas. National spending on transport infrastructure is in the process of soaring73 per cent from last financial year to 2018-19, according to industryresearch company Macromonitor. More videos Michael Pascoe: Building the future, Australia's spending onroad and rail is picking up the slack from housing construction. MichaelPascoe comments. Spending on road and rail hit a cyclical low of about $19 billion in2015-16. In constant dollars, the cycle is expected to peak at $33 billionin 2018-19. That spending would more than cover a 10 per cent decline fromlast year's $63 billion worth of new residential building.The transport infrastructure surge is big enough to add credence to thisweek's more optimistic International Monetary Fund global forecast that oureconomy will grow by a healthy 3.1 per cent this year, producing a fall inthe 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 residentialwork. Photo: Rohan Thomson .The IMF's stated reasons for the upgraded forecast after discussions withTreasury and the Reserve Bank were limited to an improved global outlook -but more than a prettier global picture is required to make up forstubbornly low non-resources investment, weak wages growth and the methodsregulators are being forced to use to hose down the housing market.With the government locked into refusing to limit negative gearing to newproperties, there's little beyond rhetoric to encourage supply whileinvestors are being curtailed. Thus, just as the housing boom helped pick up the slack as the resourcesconstruction boom went bust, road and rail work should cover for anyimmediate reduction in residential work. Among other things, Macromonitor collates transport construction data,adding the confirmed projects and the expected projects and then adjustingfor the overall public sector funding cycle. Spending on road and rail hit a cyclical low of about $19 billion in2015-16. Photo: Ryan Pierse .Macromonitor says our spending on roads has tended to grow by about 5 percent after inflation over the past three decades, but a number of majorprojects are making the cyclical swing unusually large. Such wild swingslimit the economic benefits of the investment.Despite the rhetoric of the Abbott government, spending bottomed in 2015-16and it's the states, led by NSW and Victoria, that have been stepping up thepace. The not-so-good news is that, on present government policies, theMacromonitor analysts expect a steady slide in road and rail spending backto $24 billion in the 2024-25 year, reducing growth. We'll need to come upwith another trick by then. But that challenge is a couple of elections away. In the meantime, theinfrastructure spend is particularly set to carry the NSW and Victorianeconomies higher, reinforcing the new "two-speed" economy. The increasingly wild swings of the cycle also demonstrate the failedopportunity of a more rational approach to infrastructure investment. We'renot gaining as much from the stimulus as we could.In a landmark speech after Joe Hockey's 2015 budget, the RBA'sthen-governor, Glenn Stevens, set out the case for better planning of ourinfrastructure spending beyond the reach of political pork barrelling, thecase the RBA continues to push. Said Stevens: "As often remarked, infrastructure spending has a role to playin sustaining growth and also in generating confidence. I am doubtful of ourcapacity to deploy this sort of spending as a short-term counter-cyclicaldevice. The evidence of history is that it takes too long to start and thentoo long to stop. "But it would be confidence-enhancing if there was an agreed story about along-term pipeline of infrastructure projects, surrounded by appropriategovernance on project selection, risk-sharing between public and privatesectors at varying stages of production and ownership, and appropriatepricing 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 offeringif projects were not just one-offs. The financial sector would be attractedto the opportunities for financing and asset ownership. The real economywould benefit from the steady pipeline of construction work - as opposed toa boom and bust. It would also benefit from confidence about improvedefficiency of logistics over time resulting from the better infrastructure.Amenity would be improved for millions of ordinary citizens in their dailylives. We could unleash large potential benefits that at present are notavailable because of congestion in our transportation networks." The usually-reserved governor was blunt about infrastructure projects beingheld back by political, rather than financial, factors."The impediments to this outcome are not financial. The funding would beavailable, with long-term interest rates the lowest we have ever seen or arelikely to."The impediments are in our decision-making processes and, it seems, in ourinability to find political agreement on how to proceed. "Physical infrastructure is, of course, only part of what we need. Theconfidence-enhancing narrative needs to extend to skills, education,technology, the ability and freedom to respond to incentives, the ability toadapt and the willingness to take on risk. It is in these areas too, wherethere are various initiatives in place or planned, but which often do notget enough attention, that we need to create a positive dynamic ofconfidence, 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 ofMacromonitor's graphs, we are again going through a boom-and-bust cycle,getting out of the jail of an immediate problem, but missing anotheropportunity 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 .Sweepingpublic service job cuts on way GOVERNMENT departments are handing outhundreds of millions of dollars to private companies in a secretive gravytrain 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 lessthan 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 bythe Department of Social Services for "strategic advice and reviewservices". It was for four months work and the department refused to say whyit couldn't be done in-house.A special investigation into every consultancy contract across our 15biggest federal departments during the past financial year calls intoquestion how so much of our money can change hands without even the mostbasic public accountability.The expose uncovered several instances of departments handing out tens ofthousands to former bosses for just a few months' work. And the boards ofmany companies that routinely win lucrative contracts are stacked withformer public servants.Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell was paid $52,500. Picture: CameronRichardson The Daily Telegraph is not suggesting any wrongdoing by theconsultants concerned. But what is concerning is how the departments refuseto answer simple questions or publicly release the work taxpayers' arepaying for.And nearly all refused to explain why the work couldn't simply be donein-house.Many departments refused to answer any questions, with some telling thisnewspaper to use freedom of information laws if we wanted more informationthan 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, theconsultant's name and generic titles for contracts, such as "strategicadvice" or "review services".There is also nothing forcing departments to release information forcontracts worth less than $10,000.Dr Jim Watterston..This allows departments to annually award stacks of tenders without anypublic record whatsoever. The Daily Telegraph can today reveal shockingdetails as part of a push for greater transparency.In one case, the Defence Department paid David Gould $75,000 for just onemonth's work less than 12 months after he left a job heading thedepartment'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 Dyerscored his plum role via a consultancy worth $676,500 registered to CollinsStreet Managment, where he is the sole director. His annual fee was reportedas $205,000, but it can now be revealed taxpayers' will be slugged $61,500for GST too. The Department of Attorney-General paid former NSWdirector-general Laurence Geoffrey Glanfield $83,744 for "independent reviewservices". The money was for less than four months of work. The departmentwouldn't elaborate on what the "review services" were.In another case, the Health Department paid former WA Healthdirector-general Peter Flett $61,600 to "facilitate NPAAC (NationalPathology Accreditation Advisory Council) drafting supervision standards".Dr Flett, who controversially quit the WA health system in 2009, only workedfor 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 anational security review. The money came from the DPMC. The consultancy wasfor just two months. Watt was DPMC secretary from September 2011 to November2014.Former Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour was receiving a $5.6 million salary.Picture: David Geraghty Ernst & Young won mega-contracts worth hundreds ofthousands of dollars across several departments during the 2015-16 financialyear.In February 2014, it announced Andrew Metcalfe was joining the firm after "adistinguished career in the Australian Public Service".This included being Department of Immigration secretary and Department ofthe 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 -directorsincludes current Queensland Department of Education and Trainingdirector-general Jim Watterston.NSW Senator Sam Dastyari. Picture: AAP.Meanwhile, the Department of Communications spent $37,999.90 so a companycalled Watermark Search International could "identify potential candidatesfor the Australia Post board".Australia Post was recently in the spotlight after it was revealed itsformer head, Ahmed Fahour, was receiving a $5.6 million salary.NSW Senator Sam Dastyari last night said this "secret society" had tochange. "Every dollar wasted is a dollar not going to hospitals, schools andthe services people rely on."The public has a right to know and the government has done everythingpossible to make the system complicated so no one can get to the bottom ofit. Frankly, it's time the Senate holds the government departments toaccount ... all options should be on the table," he said.<www.heraldsun.com.au/news/government-departments-fattening-pockets-of-former-public-servants-including-an-expremier/news-story/e8f5ff1a1995f44f2e6fd65b81d21cc9>
Experienced train drivers forced into difficult psychometric testing toqualify for job at Queensland Rail.Courier-Mail April 21, 2017.EXPERIENCED train drivers are being forced to solve maths puzzles difficultenough to stump even university-level mathematics students to qualify for ajob at Queensland Rail.The puzzles, obtained by The Courier-Mail, are part of the onlinepsychometric test experienced train drivers, including qualified driversworking for private freight operator Aurizon, must complete to reach thenext level of recruitment and score a job interview.Aurizon drivers seeking a QR job have expressed dismay at the difficulty ofsome test questions and query why it has taken nearly three weeks to learnwhether they passed.One driver, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two colleagues hadgiven up waiting and accepted jobs for interstate operators.An example of a puzzle used in Queensland Rail psychometric testing. Theanswer is the E symbol (second from left).It comes amid the ongoing chronic driver shortage that forced QR toindefinitely adopt a dramatically pared back timetable to avoid a repeat oflast year's mass service cancellations.University of Queensland mathematics professor Peter Adams rated the puzzlesso difficult that he believed some of his own students studying advancedmaths would fail."I suspect that people who weren't mathematicians or computer scientists orlogicians 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 questionsand 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 lastmonth revealed dozens of Aurizon drivers' job applications had been rejectedwithout explanation. This is despite drivers having qualified to apply asprevious employees of QR.Transport Minister Jackie Trad was forced to intervene by directing QR toreassess the applications.QR chief executive officer Nick Easy defended the recruitment processyesterday, saying psychometric testing had been in use since 2011 todetermine drivers' suitability.He said independent assessment had found the testing had reduced safetyrisks. Ms Trad also defended the testing, saying it was international bestpractice.An example of a puzzle used in Queensland Rail psychometric testing. Theanswer is on the far right.The February driver recruitment advertising campaign sparked controversyafter QR ignored a key recommendation of the Strachan Inquiry into itsdriver crisis by restricting job applicants to experienced former QR traindrivers.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 allapplicants. It had found QR operated with a built-in driver shortagepreference to pump up paid overtime for drivers, which was linked torestrictions on being able to recruit train crew externally.The inquiry also heavily criticised the degree of union control over hiringand crewing at QR.Rail Tram & Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan yesterday did not returncalls.<www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/experiences-train-drivers-forced-into-difficult-psychometric-testing-to-qualify-for-job-at-queensland-rail/news-story/ddd7f2142f847687b1d7986ef3f23506> 62 comments, mainly anti Labor.