In the CBD. 1 point…..
I wonder if he wears deeley-boppers and leg-warmers at the weekend while listening to his new Wham! album (vinyl)?
A less-flippant blog post today with a few simple observations as an outsider to the national annual day of remembrance, ANZAC Day.
For those not aware, ANZAC Day (Australia/New Zealand Army Corps) is April 25th and commemorates the first landing of Australian and New Zealand forces on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915. It’s observed by Australia and New Zealand (and some Pacific islands) with dawn services, parades and other events.
In recent years, it’s expanded to include commemoration of all conflicts in which the two countries have been engaged. Having been here for Remembrance Day last November, I can compare and contrast the two occasions and ANZAC Day is by far the greater observed and gets exponentially more media exposure.
Yesterday was an interesting day for me, as an outsider; it seemed more nationalistic than I was expecting and the sentiments seemed quite confused at times, certainly by the extensive coverage in all forms of the news media. During the many televised marches and services, there were a lot of people wearing Australian sporting attire, rugby shirts, beanies, scarves, etc. This is outside of my previous experience; I wouldn’t have thought of dressing in an English rugby shirt to attend a Remembrance Day service in the UK, it just wouldn’t have seemed appropriate.
The media coverage of the day was interesting for other reasons too. I think I’d be pretty upset if I were a Kiwi in Australia yesterday as there was very little mention of the NZ element of the acronym “ANZAC”. While we’re on that subject, recent conversations with Australians about the history of Gallipoli suggests that there has been a very selective teaching of the subject within Australia; regardless of one’s opinion on Churchill’s decision to attack the peninsula, the casualty figures are quite instructive – the British:ANZAC ratio of deaths was 4:1, a fact I am often surprised that Australians aren’t aware of. This was not a military disaster with exclusively Australian casualties in the “cannon fodder” myth that seems to have permeated.
From some purely anecdotal evidence from yesterday (and this is a personal blog, so I’m allowed to do that), ANZAC Day is for some a large excuse to partake in all-day drinking. From the “gunfire breakfasts” (coffee and rum after the dawn services) and ANZAC Day special events in the full-to-the-brim local pubs to the sight of a young lad in battle fatigues passed out on the pavement of the high street at about 2.30pm and a very loud barbecue near our house, I witnessed a lot of drinking and the results of drinking yesterday. By contrast, a brief visit to the local hardware store suggested that many of the non-caucasian Australians choose to use the day off work to do some home repairs instead and keep away from the high street.
I suppose there’s a fine line between nationalism and national pride. An outside observer is always going to feel excluded and perhaps that’s what I was experiencing yesterday. I’m fairly sure that I’ll be staying clear of future ANZAC events and will be attempting to keep my opinions on the subject to myself (and this blog).
ANZAC Day is for and about Australians and I’m not currently invited. And that’s probably fair enough.
Did you miss me? I’m back from the partial circumnavigation attempt this week on a Bavaria 31.
Actually, the waters of Pittwater and Broken Bay are just an enlarged boating lake populated by adult versions of the pedalo. In fact, the charter company specifically banned us from taking the yacht out to sea across an imaginary line drawn from the heads at Palm Beach to Lion Island. Not that they’d ever have known if we did as the boat didn’t have that newly-invented device that hit the market this year, an erm, GPS plotter.
With a couple of small kids on board and Charlie being heavily pregnant, we weren’t really up for a strenuous week of smashing through 2m swells and tacking down the coast though, so the location was perfect. Even more so as we’d picked the week before Easter so practically had the place to ourselves.
That is until Friday.
This is the point in today’s post where long-held prejudices about people in boats raise their ugly head….
Some quick points to be made;
Probably the most amusing aspect of the week on the water however, was the prevalence of mooring buoys. If you’re not into messing around in boats, here’s a quick education about parking them for the night; you have three choices – tie up in a marina like sardines, tie up to a mooring buoy or drop the anchor. Of these, anchoring is free and generally more pleasant if you like to keep a bit of distance from the nearest neighbour and not hear them having domestic arguments/drunken sex all night.
All one needs to anchor is a modicum of intelligence (pick a place where there is a lump of land between you and the direction the wind is coming from and calculate what the tide will do to the water level overnight, etc.), a decent anchor and a little knowledge of the technique to use.
Which probably explains why 90% of the boats in Refuge Bay use mooring buoys. The place is full of them, at an estimated cost of around $3,000 a year to maintain (this is Australia – a government regulatory body has to send a diver down once a year to check the safety standards, of course). So in addition to marina fees, most of the boats we shared the anchorage with also pay for their buoy in another part of the bay. The same bay we sailed into and dropped anchor in for free.
I suppose people can and do spend their money how they wish, as evidenced by the floating beer fridge/powerful stereo moving devices many choose to purchase but it does seem a little bourgeois and not strictly in line with my preconceptions about the hardiness of the little Aussie battlers.
…..what the poor are doing today?
Refuge Bay. Not too shoddy.
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It’s been a shite week for the dozen or so of us who work in the private sector here in Australia. Me and my 11 fellow net-taxpayers (there are a few more who pay tax but get it all handed back in rebates and benefits) have been given several pieces of news that set alarm bells ringing in the region of our wallets.
Firstly, the National Pornband Network has decided that a competitive tendering process to select suppliers and pricing rates is not the best way to spend 43 billions of taxpayers dollars, despite it being exactly the way that the world’s most profitable companies choose to ensure best value for money. It would seem that they started the process with four suppliers but didn’t like the prices that came back from any of them. So, a couple of things may have been happening here; either the requirements written by the government (not known previously as a subject matter expert on data networks) were expensive to satisfy OR the suppliers have got together in an illegal cartel and fixed their prices. Of course, the government decided that the latter was the most obvious answer so is, erm, going to choose a supplier and tell them what they are prepared to pay but not prosecute any of the offenders.
Conclusion of this taxpayer? The supplier’s lawyers will craft a deal that fits the price dictated by the NBN but with high costs associated with every request to change anything like dates, locations, equipment, etc. Example; the price stands as long as the NBN team can ensure that the road is dug up and ready on the exact day that it says on the plan, any deviation to this costs $fuckingloads.
Second tax hit of the week; the treasurer, Wayne Swann (more parents should name their children “Wayne”, don’t you think?) allegedly leaked the bad news about this year’s budget. The bad news being that tax revenues have fallen short of the forecast to the tune of $13bn. That’s about £525 for each Australian resident. Except most of them are net-receivers not payers of tax so you can probably triple that figure for the “few”. It reminds me of Churchill’s quote about much being owed by so many to so few, except it seems that getting free flying lessons in a Spitfire isn’t part of the deal this time.
Third tax hit of the week; the insane fucking Carbon Tax had some more bad news. Unsurprisingly, the unions are petitioning Julia Gillard to carve a deal that sees several industries getting out of having to pay it. Industries such as, erm, anything associated with steel production and road transport. The government is such a lame duck in parliament that there will have to be a swathe of concessions to get any kind of legislation through. Brilliant. So that probably just leaves lettuce farms, cycle rickshaws for tourists and therapeutic crystal-production as the only areas to pay the tax. Oh, and me and my 11 fellow non-public sector colleagues.
Lastly, and I can’t stress enough the concern this caused me, NSW had a record downpour of rain on Friday night. 57mm in one day. If you’re not an Australian taxpayer, that might simply sound like a lot of water to you but in reality, every drop that fell took us closer and closer to an emergency press conference by Julia Gillard where she would have to announce a levy (different to a tax, apparently) to help repair the damage across the state. In fact, at the height of the storm, a leak developed in the roof above our kitchen and I wasn’t sure whether to call the letting agent to arrange the repairs or a Federal department in Canberra.
Anyway, in a fit of pique as a petulant reaction to these tax bombshells, we’re taking the week off. Going on strike. Boycotting any tax revenue-generating activities. In fact, we’ve chartered a Bavaria 31 and will be doing a bit of creek-crawling up in Pittwater and Broken Bay. All aboard.
“I ain’t gonna work on Julia’s farm no more”.
I’m guessing this advert was commissioned and paid for before the Ashes.
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A good friend of mine who, to protect his person and reputation, shall remain anonymous except to say that his name begins with an “M” and ends with “agic”, got busted by the traffic police yesterday. The crime?
Failure to prove that he had paid $80 to be issued a piece of plastic.
So the circumstances; waking up on Sunday morning in his penthouse bachelor pad, he nudged the pair of supermodels out of the black silk sheets and jumped into his Italian sportscar to drive to Bondy for an early morning jog and swim. Not wishing to carry his wallet on the run or leave it in the car, he left it and its contents at home. On the drive back, he was stopped by an RBT (Random Breath Test – for those not in Australia and not able to view the “gripping” TV that is their police reality show) unit.
Policeman: Can I see your driving licence?
Magic: It’s at home, I’ve just been for a swim and didn’t want to carry it to the beach.
Policeman: Ok, that’s $86. Put this in your mouth and blow, please.
Magic: Oh, is it Rotary Club night already?
I’ve done the research, and here’s some interesting various current legislation (in NSW, other states are different obviously – this is multi-layered government-land);
1. You can be stopped by the police and breathalised at random.
2. Failure to comply with a breathtest carries the same penalties as failure to pass one.
3. Failure to physically carry your driving licence while driving is an offence.
4. Unless they suspect you of a crime or being witness to a crime, a policeman cannot force you to identify yourself at any other time.
Now, I’m a new immigrant to Australia and as such, I have to accept the laws and comply with them. That I will do.
However, I was under the impression that the Westminster system was adopted and in force here which is founded on “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat”, or that the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. I’m used to police needing to have a legitimate reason to stop me from going about my business, for example; erratic driving, faulty brake light etc. The concept of me being selected at random as today’s presumed guilty party is anathema.
Further reading of the legislation relating to the RBT units indicates that these should be operated, as the name suggests, at random.
So my advice to Magic, Pyrmont’s very own Rosa Parks, is to challenge the algorithm used. By which, I mean ask the police what recognised mathematical or computational method of producing random selections was employed to determine that yesterday was his turn to get pulled over. Surely if it truly was a “random” breath test, then there would need to be a device indicating to the police whether each passing driver was to be selected or allowed to continue unhindered. Otherwise, the alternative is that the police employ their own personal prejudices to persecute and victimise their own bete noir demographic.
Maybe the cops are playing “car colour snooker”, where they play a red then a yellow, a red then a green, a red then a brown, etc.
In which case, it’s probably time that Magic put that shiny new Fiat 500 up for sale.
The global economic landscape post-GFC has changed us forever; we’ve all learned to trim fat from our operations, have a long look at our processes to ensure they are lean and still relevant and sometimes we’ve had to make tough decisions about colleagues who aren’t contributing to the required level.
With the Chinese bubble starting to deflate and a potential “GFC-2″ about to sweep through Australia, the focus on costs and discretionary spend has never been more germane.
Sometimes though, the defining factors separating a thriving company from a dying company
is are attention to detail, delight in quality, a culture of excellence.
Detail. Quality. Excellence. Three words that leap to the front of my mind like a returning salmon up a Scottish waterfall whenever I think of Bunnings.
There’s just one flaw, however……. punctuation.
As I understand it, Bunnings was founded by the brothers Arthur and Robert, a pair of cockney immigrants with a shared surname of Bunning. Grammatically, a warehouse owned by Arthur would be known as “Bunning’s Warehouse”. Conversely, a warehouse in joint ownership of Arthur and Robert would be referred to as “Bunnings’ Warehouse”. There isn’t though, to my knowledge, an instance where “Bunnings warehouse” would be grammatically-correct. An “s” indicates plural, contraction or ownership; of these, the plural doesn’t carry the burden of the costly apostrophe.
Look John, I know times are tough. I understand that the extra paint required to pop an annoying little apostrophe on all the signs on all the warehouses from Rottnest to Rotorua would cost the equivalent of your CFO’s weekly Lavazza and croissant bill. I understand that nobody in the western suburbs has ever spotted that there’s a grammatical error in
you your signage. I know that the marketing department would have to come in a couple of hours earlier (say, 2pm) one day to re-write the brief to Saatchi and Saatchi in time for the next jingle-heavy TV campaign, but this is a question of standards. “Si toleras esta”, as they said after Guernica.
I’m here to help. My mate Magic and I are prepared, without recompense and in our own time, to go around Australia and New Zealand and borrow a ladder at every Bunnings (sic) store, climb the dizzying heights and add that conspicuously-absent apostrophe. You decide which side of the “S” you want it, just tell us before we start.
The New Australian
EDIT: Hypocritical errors fixed.
Maybe my current client is not typical of the Australian business landscape, but I’ve spent the last few weeks going to meetings where I’ve regularly been picking my jaw off the floor at the commercial naivety and poor judgment being demonstrated at a senior level in a regulated financial entity.
Some examples to illustrate this;
Stupid Colleague 1: “Hi TNA, we didn’t ask them to but a supplier has given us a proposal to outsource some of our financial processes and it looks pretty good, can we just go ahead with it?”
TNA: “Yeah sure, that sounds perfectly reasonable. While we’re at it, why don’t we drop our pants and bend over with a tub of vaseline in one hand and our open wallet in the other?”
TNA: “Shall we sit down and plan the budget for next year for the investment cost of the project we want to run?”
Stupid Colleague 2: “What do you mean, isn’t the business case enough?”
TNA: “Erm, no. Surely we have to allocate the investment cost in the budget to ensure that the funds are available. Isn’t that how the budgeting process works here?
Stupid Colleague 2: “What’s a budgeting process?”
(sound of The New Australian slamming his cock in a drawer repeatedly)
These are just a couple from this week but it’s repeated day in and day out. I’m particularly shocked at the number of deals I’m finding that have been agreed without any real commercial competition, golf-course handshakes in other words.
This means one of two things; either the person agreeing to these deals is corrupt or incompetent.
As far as I’m concerned there’s no middle ground on this, there’s either an awful lot of swimming pools being built for free in the backyard of my client’s executive’s houses or the executives actually have no idea how to get value for money when writing large contracts. I’ve not worked out which it is yet.
However, maybe an indication can be found by looking at the global view and asking ourselves how well Australian companies fare when they try to operate outside the cosy environment of the national boundaries. I can only think of a handful of internationally successful Australian companies; BHP Biliton, Rio Tinto, Westfield and Macquarie. Of these, the first two are successful mainly because of the Australian government would prefer to grant mining rights to Australian companies and Macquarie is really a spin-off from a British company (Hill Samuel).
So the evidence seems to be pointing to Australian business acumen being a little below the level required to play on a global scale. That conclusion certainly matches my recent experience in the Sydney central business district.
Without wishing to sound spiteful, probably the best thing to happen to Australian businesses would be a recession; the poor practices and commercially naive staff would be quickly cut from the corporations like the cancer that they are. Of course, that assumes that the government wouldn’t step in first with some kind of “GFC-2 levy”. On second thoughts, that’s absolutely guaranteed to happen. Hit the “more government button” again…….
Another from “Magic”.
Dirty white shoes and white socks.
Is this the 1980′s? Is Pretty in Pink still being shown at the cinema?
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The future of Australian rugby union is not looking good. It pains me to write this, as I have been a fan of the Australian national team since, well, OK maybe I haven’t ever been a fan of the Wallabies.
My irrational distaste for the Wallabies stems from regular visits to Twickenham in the 80s and 90s to watch the ritual humiliation of England at the hands of them and the All Blacks in various international matches and latterly, when we lifted the sanctions, the Saffas joined in the whipping too.
Actually, I have an issue with any international team that thinks it’s OK to have two national anthems (Advance Australia fair AND Waltzing Mathilda in Australia’s case, Ireland seem to often have two, South Africa have three and New Zealand have an anthem followed by a bit of a rap and a boyband dance).
Today saw our first-born son, Biffa, heading off to his first ever rugby match. He’s playing in the under 6 team so it’s not exactly trials for the Waratahs just yet. In fact, contact sport is still several years away, they just play tag until they reach 8 years old.
So how is it that several of the kids in the mini rugby teams turned up wearing scrum caps?
The “rugby” being played is just like the games of tag or stick-in-the-mud played in the schoolyard at lunchtimes. Do these kids wear scrum caps at school break time?
It makes sense though when one looks at the performance of Australian teams over recent years. They are stereotypically world-class in positions 9 through 15 but sadly lacking in firepower as the numbers decrease from 8 down to 1. So much so that when I completed the immigration forms to come here I was honestly expecting to see the positions Loosehead, Hooker and Tighthead described as “Preferred Skilled Migration Professions” and given double points on the approvals process.
When one debates the pitiful forward talent pool in Australia with Australians, they often revert to the excuse that their style of rugby is all about entertainment and keeping the ball moving. This is a fair point and, for the sake of diplomacy (an idiom I’ve made my trademark) I agree with them; in fact I regularly find their collapsing scrums or rapidly retreating packs hugely entertaining. I’m not sure that’s quite what they meant but let’s not split hairs.
On the subject of Biffa and rugby, several folk have commented with a smirk that when he grows up he’ll qualify to play for the Wallabies. Two words are all I need in response to that sentiment; “Ben Gollings“.