-----Original Message----- From: Roderick Smith [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Friday, 21 April 2017 10:33 AM To: 'email@example.com' 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 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.