OptionA Noddy redtape

Public servants fleece Australian workers ,laughing all the way to see their banking mates!
Cutting costs … former premier Bob Carr spent $100,000 less in expenses in 2009 than the previous year, but still rang up a bill of more than $326,000. Photo: Simon Schluter
RETIRED premiers spent more than $1.2 million in taxpayer-funded expenses last year on top of their parliamentary pensions.
The former Liberal premier Nick Greiner spent more than $500,000 on an office, chauffer-driven car, first-class flights and secretarial staff in 2009, 17 years after he left office.
Neville Wran’s perks cost the state $411,483 last year, despite the former Labor premier leaving Parliament in 1986.
Bob Carr, who retired in 2005, cut his expenses by more than $100,000 on the previous year, spending $326,525 in 2009, including $2500 on stationery.
Morris Iemma, who won the 2007 election but was in office for only three years and one month, was relatively cheap, spending $36,199, mostly on car expenses. Mr Iemma, who has recently begun
working as a solicitor after a long illness, receives an indexed
lifetime pension of more than $130,000 a year.
His successor, Nathan Rees, who returned to the backbench after a 15-month stint as premier, chose not to take up Kristina Keneally’s offer of a car and driver: ”I catch trains and work out of
my electorate office.”
The figures, obtained under freedom-of-information laws by Channel Nine, reveal the lifetime entitlements granted to those premiers who served at least one parliamentary term are much more
generous than those who had shorter stints in the state’s top office.
A spokeswoman for Ms Keneally said the system of entitlements for long-serving premiers was set up in 1975 and includes an office with two staff, a car and a driver, 12 first-class flights
within Australia, 12 flights within NSW, free public transport in Sydney
and free rail travel across Australia.
The Labor premier Barrie Unsworth, who served 21 months until 1988, and the Liberal premier John Fahey, who served less than three years until 1995, receive virtually nothing above their
parliamentary pensions.
Since resigning as premier and treasurer in 1992, Mr Greiner has established a lucrative career as a company director.
Last year taxpayers forked out $209,000 for salaries and superannuation for his staff, $169,000 for his Macquarie Street office, $9000 in air travel, $40,000 in car expenses and $72,000 on IT
consultants and utility bills.
The state’s longest continuous serving premier, Mr Carr, is now a highly paid consultant to Macquarie Bank and a director of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
He spent $174,000 on staff, $87,000 on his Bligh House office, $2700 on air travel, $33,000 on a car, $2500 on stationery and $26,000 in other expenses.

Cutting costs … former premier Bob Carr spent $100,000 less in expenses in 2009 than the previous year, but still rang up a bill of more than $326,000. Photo: Simon Schluter

RETIRED premiers spent more than $1.2 million in taxpayer-funded expenses last year on top of their parliamentary pensions.
The former Liberal premier Nick Greiner spent more than $500,000 on an office, chauffer-driven car, first-class flights and secretarial staff in 2009, 17 years after he left office.
Neville Wran’s perks cost the state $411,483 last year, despite the former Labor premier leaving Parliament in 1986.

Bob Carr, who retired in 2005, cut his expenses by more than $100,000 on the previous year, spending $326,525 in 2009, including $2500 on stationery.
Morris Iemma, who won the 2007 election but was in office for only three years and one month, was relatively cheap, spending $36,199, mostly on car expenses. Mr Iemma, who has recently begunworking as a solicitor after a long illness, receives an indexedlifetime pension of more than $130,000 a year.
His successor, Nathan Rees, who returned to the backbench after a 15-month stint as premier, chose not to take up Kristina Keneally’s offer of a car and driver: ”I catch trains and work out ofmy electorate office.”
The figures, obtained under freedom-of-information laws by Channel Nine, reveal the lifetime entitlements granted to those premiers who served at least one parliamentary term are much moregenerous than those who had shorter stints in the state’s top office.
A spokeswoman for Ms Keneally said the system of entitlements for long-serving premiers was set up in 1975 and includes an office with two staff, a car and a driver, 12 first-class flightswithin Australia, 12 flights within NSW, free public transport in Sydneyand free rail travel across Australia.
The Labor premier Barrie Unsworth, who served 21 months until 1988, and the Liberal premier John Fahey, who served less than three years until 1995, receive virtually nothing above theirparliamentary pensions.
Since resigning as premier and treasurer in 1992, Mr Greiner has established a lucrative career as a company director.
Last year taxpayers forked out $209,000 for salaries and superannuation for his staff, $169,000 for his Macquarie Street office, $9000 in air travel, $40,000 in car expenses and $72,000 on ITconsultants and utility bills.
The state’s longest continuous serving premier, Mr Carr, is now a highly paid consultant to Macquarie Bank and a director of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
He spent $174,000 on staff, $87,000 on his Bligh House office, $2700 on air travel, $33,000 on a car, $2500 on stationery and $26,000 in other expenses.

Drug dealer granted tax deduction by public servants as Australian workers denied deductions for childcare

October 28, 2004 SMH

A convicted heroin dealer will be allowed to claim a $220,000 tax deduction for money lost during a drug deal after the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) lost a bid to appeal against a full Federal Court ruling in his favour.

The commissioner of taxation had been seeking leave in the High Court to appeal against the Federal Court’s decision that Perth man Francesco Dominico La Rosa could write the money off as lost income.

The ATO had been trying to make La Rosa – who served a 12-year jail term for dealing heroin and amphetamines – pay tax on his 1994-95 assessable income, which it estimated amounted to $446,954.

But La Rosa insisted his taxable income should be reduced for that year because it wrongly included a sum of $224,793.

The money had been buried in La Rosa’s backyard and was dug up for use in an intended drug deal in May 1995, but was stolen during the transaction by unknown people.

In 2001, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal held that the money was lost during activities directly connected with La Rosa’s illicit drug-dealing business and was lost during operations to acquire trading stock.

On the basis of those findings, the tribunal concluded that while the income had been properly included in La Rosa’s income as part of the default assessment process – enacted when he failed to lodge tax returns for seven years – it was properly allowable as a deduction.

The ATO appealed to the Federal Court, arguing there was no evidence the money had been stolen and it was against public policy to allow stolen money as a tax deduction.

But the Federal Court upheld the tribunal’s decision.

The ATO subsequently appealed to the full court of the Federal Court and that appeal was dismissed in June 2003.

Yesterday, in a Perth sitting of the High Court, the ATO’s application for special leave to appeal was also refused.

The ruling means the ATO has now exhausted all avenues of appeal.

However, Prime Minister John Howard said last December that if the High Court action failed, the law would be changed.

“If the appeal is unsuccessful, we will take steps to amend the law,” he told Parliament at the time.

A spokeswoman for Treasurer Peter Costello yesterday said the Government would now pursue the necessary amendments.

“The Government is disappointed that the High Court refused the commissioner of taxation leave to appeal,” the spokeswoman said.

“The proceeds of crime are taxable and the tax commissioner has been arguing in the courts that deductions for losses incurred in deriving illegal income should not be allowed.

“Since the courts have not ruled this way, the Government will now seek to amend the legislation to prevent such losses being allowed as deductions.”

Tourism Australia Shackled By Red Tape

Australian public servants are party up as they spend the workers money

7 December, 2009 by Martin Kelly

EVERYONE has an opinion about Tourism Australia and the job it does in marketing our country to the world.

While those opinions vary, and many in recent years tend toward the negative, no-one will deny it’s an incredibly tough job with all the politics and bureacracy being a government funded enterprise entails. Change is tough.

Just how tough I found out the other day (after clearing a couple of bureaucratic hurdles) on checking out a Request For Tender Tourism Australia is currently running for strategic consultants and market research agencies.

The tender document is 45 pages of legal gobbledegook that would make any sane person run a million miles. A company could spend days filling it out and still get nowhere.

Which surely means a lot of prospects would simply focus on the job at hand and ignore the tender, leaving the field open to large operators, ie the incumbents, who have the staff to do this kind of work.

That would surely defeat the purpose of opening up to new blood.

On this evidence, you have to feel kind of sorry for the people at Tourism Australia – whose ability to do their job appears to be severely restricted by the politics of their job.

Doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, however.

If you’re still keen, the RFT document can be found at http://www.tenders.gov.au reference # TA144/2009.

The tender closes on December 11.

PS: For a insanely good example of how Government tenders can go wrong, check out this story from the Daily Telegraph. Someone got the deal of a lifetime – and it wasn’t tax payers.

Common sense has no place in our burgeoning bureaucracy

November 9, 2009 SMH

A group of altruistic young mothers has organised a school fete for next Sunday. They want to raise money to pay the salary of a remedial reading teacher at their state primary school.

It’s a noble purpose, but the mothers made a grave tactical mistake. They decided to hold the fete outside the school grounds, in a nearby park. This placed them at the mercy of the local bureaucracy, Woollahra Municipal Council, an institution not noted for mercy.

I have on my desk a 10-page document the council gave the mothers. It is 10 pages of legalistic, pedantic, pettifogging strictures, demands and obligations devoid of any sense of compassion or common purpose. Compliance with the council’s demands has taken months and cost thousands of dollars.

The council requires a $4000 deposit be lodged against the potential cost of any repairs to the park deemed necessary as a result of the fete. It required a development application and an environmental impact statement (cost $500). It required a traffic management assessment and scheme (cost $1000). It required liability insurance.

To convey the full flavour of the majestic repressiveness, I quote from the document: ”The applicant must provide a copy of a certificate of currency prior to each event showing public liability insurance to the value of $10,000,000 for each fete …” That is not a misprint.

The council’s thought police have also been busy. Stipulations have been made about what can be written on any promotional banners and where they can be displayed. The council has provided two pages of instructions about food service. It requires the hire of portable toilets. It also requires ”adequate security measures”. And so on.

This response is not singular to this fete, this school or this council. It is the way Australia’s occupying army of 1.5 million federal, state and local bureaucrats and lawyers see the world – through a prism of risk and legal liability.

Mercy? Flexibility? Community? The lower you go down the administrative chain the more inflexible and rule-driven the administrators behave. Last week I saw a parking inspector put a ticket on a neighbour’s car that was parked in their own driveway. They had been packing the car for a trip. When I told this to the parking inspector, he replied stonily: ”It’s illegal to park in your own driveway.”

Common sense suggested he cancel the ticket and place a warning sticker on the windscreen advising of the change to the law. But that’s not how the system works. Once written, a parking ticket cannot be cancelled. Only formal administrative disputation can change the result.

Australians have this outdated idea of themselves as easy-going pragmatists, but we are becoming a nation of petty laws and fearful citizens, too gutless to confront this creeping, productivity-killing, initiative-destroying, community-sapping tide of compulsion and constriction, much of it driven by a corrosive ideology of the need for government control and intervention.

Look no further than the volunteer surf lifesaving movement, a totemic symbol of Australian culture and mateship. It is being progressively suffocated by local councils and their obsession with legal liabilities and micro-management. Instead of reforming our ponderous, expensive, dysfunctional, excessively technical legal system, it is the dysfunctional legal system that is colonising the rest of society. Laws pile upon laws, regulations upon regulations. Nothing is repealed, every rule is expanded.

But laws and compulsion do not create civil order. The real moral authority in society comes from community standards, peer pressure, communalism and a sense of natural justice, and all of these elements are under assault.

That’s why transparency is crucial. Take the shocking conduct of the Office of the Board of Studies that affects the lives of the 67,000 students who sit for the HSC each year. In 2001, when a group of aggrieved students sought to see their raw marks, the board blocked them at every turn, even after the Ombudsman intervened on the students’ behalf.

The Ombudsman’s office held 19 hearings into the matter and issued a report last month that found the board had engaged in an adversarial, obfuscating, legalistic war of attrition that was itself in breach of the law. No one at the Board of Studies resigned, because the board is a bureaucracy devoid of honour.

These are no more than a few fleeting examples of the oppressive cultural monolith we are building for ourselves, a monolith whose construction has sped up with the arrival of a genuinely Napoleonic prime minister in Kevin Rudd. All the trends towards the centralisation of control have accelerated and consolidated as the Federal Government seeks to spread its power over every aspect of society in ways the framers of the Commonwealth never intended.

This growing distance between the flexibility of localism and the rigidity of centralism took me back to a brilliant little book by a social visionary, the late Jane Jacobs, whose last work, Dark Age Ahead (2004), offered a warning.

Among her many observations was this: ”Central planning, whether by leftists or conservatives, draws too little on local knowledge and creativity, stifles innovations, and is inefficient and costly because it is circuitous.”

Central planning does not come only from Canberra. It comes from every level of government, and the cost of the bureaucratisation of society is as enormous as it is insidious. As the mother who helped organise next Sunday’s school fete told me: ”If I had known in March what I know now, there would never have been any thought of a fete.”

Common sense has no place in our burgeoning bureaucracy

Australian public servants party with lawyers and their expanding Redtape NODDY festival

November 9, 2009 SMH

A group of altruistic young mothers has organised a school fete for next Sunday. They want to raise money to pay the salary of a remedial reading teacher at their state primary school.

It’s a noble purpose, but the mothers made a grave tactical mistake. They decided to hold the fete outside the school grounds, in a nearby park. This placed them at the mercy of the local bureaucracy, Woollahra Municipal Council, an institution not noted for mercy.

I have on my desk a 10-page document the council gave the mothers. It is 10 pages of legalistic, pedantic, pettifogging strictures, demands and obligations devoid of any sense of compassion or common purpose. Compliance with the council’s demands has taken months and cost thousands of dollars.

The council requires a $4000 deposit be lodged against the potential cost of any repairs to the park deemed necessary as a result of the fete. It required a development application and an environmental impact statement (cost $500). It required a traffic management assessment and scheme (cost $1000). It required liability insurance.

To convey the full flavour of the majestic repressiveness, I quote from the document: ”The applicant must provide a copy of a certificate of currency prior to each event showing public liability insurance to the value of $10,000,000 for each fete …” That is not a misprint.

The council’s thought police have also been busy. Stipulations have been made about what can be written on any promotional banners and where they can be displayed. The council has provided two pages of instructions about food service. It requires the hire of portable toilets. It also requires ”adequate security measures”. And so on.

This response is not singular to this fete, this school or this council. It is the way Australia’s occupying army of 1.5 million federal, state and local bureaucrats and lawyers see the world – through a prism of risk and legal liability.

Mercy? Flexibility? Community? The lower you go down the administrative chain the more inflexible and rule-driven the administrators behave. Last week I saw a parking inspector put a ticket on a neighbour’s car that was parked in their own driveway. They had been packing the car for a trip. When I told this to the parking inspector, he replied stonily: ”It’s illegal to park in your own driveway.”

Common sense suggested he cancel the ticket and place a warning sticker on the windscreen advising of the change to the law. But that’s not how the system works. Once written, a parking ticket cannot be cancelled. Only formal administrative disputation can change the result.

Australians have this outdated idea of themselves as easy-going pragmatists, but we are becoming a nation of petty laws and fearful citizens, too gutless to confront this creeping, productivity-killing, initiative-destroying, community-sapping tide of compulsion and constriction, much of it driven by a corrosive ideology of the need for government control and intervention.

Look no further than the volunteer surf lifesaving movement, a totemic symbol of Australian culture and mateship. It is being progressively suffocated by local councils and their obsession with legal liabilities and micro-management. Instead of reforming our ponderous, expensive, dysfunctional, excessively technical legal system, it is the dysfunctional legal system that is colonising the rest of society. Laws pile upon laws, regulations upon regulations. Nothing is repealed, every rule is expanded.

But laws and compulsion do not create civil order. The real moral authority in society comes from community standards, peer pressure, communalism and a sense of natural justice, and all of these elements are under assault.

That’s why transparency is crucial. Take the shocking conduct of the Office of the Board of Studies that affects the lives of the 67,000 students who sit for the HSC each year. In 2001, when a group of aggrieved students sought to see their raw marks, the board blocked them at every turn, even after the Ombudsman intervened on the students’ behalf.

The Ombudsman’s office held 19 hearings into the matter and issued a report last month that found the board had engaged in an adversarial, obfuscating, legalistic war of attrition that was itself in breach of the law. No one at the Board of Studies resigned, because the board is a bureaucracy devoid of honour.

These are no more than a few fleeting examples of the oppressive cultural monolith we are building for ourselves, a monolith whose construction has sped up with the arrival of a genuinely Napoleonic prime minister in Kevin Rudd. All the trends towards the centralisation of control have accelerated and consolidated as the Federal Government seeks to spread its power over every aspect of society in ways the framers of the Commonwealth never intended.

This growing distance between the flexibility of localism and the rigidity of centralism took me back to a brilliant little book by a social visionary, the late Jane Jacobs, whose last work, Dark Age Ahead (2004), offered a warning.

Among her many observations was this: ”Central planning, whether by leftists or conservatives, draws too little on local knowledge and creativity, stifles innovations, and is inefficient and costly because it is circuitous.”

Central planning does not come only from Canberra. It comes from every level of government, and the cost of the bureaucratisation of society is as enormous as it is insidious. As the mother who helped organise next Sunday’s school fete told me: ”If I had known in March what I know now, there would never have been any thought of a fete.”

Multiply this by a million.

Australian Public servant thought police create NEW ISP police force for your children

The federal government is hiding controversial plans to force ISPs to store internet activity of all Australian internet users – regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing – for law-enforcement agencies to access.

Political opponents and other critics of the scheme have described the draft policy as “alarming” and accused the government of going “on a fishing expedition for as much data on the public as they can get”. One ISP executive has described the plan as “a nanny state gone totally insane”.

The Attorney-General’s Department has been holding consultations with industry about implementing a “data retention regime”, similar to that adopted by the European Union after terrorist attacks several years ago.

Reports last week suggested data that ISPs would be required to store included contents of communications such as web browsing history.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland denied web browsing histories would be stored, saying the government was only seeking to identify “parties to a communication”, such as senders and receivers of emails and VoIP calls.

However, it is difficult for the public to get a clear picture of the policy because the government has sworn all parties to secrecy.

Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, criticised the government for not being transparent and open with the public about its intentions. Coroneos said he was forbidden by confidentiality agreements from discussing any details of draft proposals he has been provided.

“The decision at this stage to keep the process under wraps is the decision of the government. It’s not the decision of the industry,” he said in a phone interview.

“We still argue that there be an open and transparent process here.”

Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam also criticised the lack of transparency, saying in a phone interview he had a researcher investigating the scheme to “try and work out how it fits in to the government’s supposed grave concerns and fears about online privacy”.

“To me there seems to be some profound contradictions going on there,” Senator Ludlam said, adding that the policy “on first glance looks quite alarming”.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has recently fired barbs at Facebook and Google over privacy failures and their alleged disregard for the sanctity of users’ personal information.

Colin Jacobs, spokesman for the online users’ lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the government appeared to be trying to access whatever passes through any ISP in this country, while displaying “no regard whatsoever for our privacy or our civil liberties”.

“What has emerged in recent days has been a clear picture of a government on a fishing expedition for as much data on the public as they can get,” Jacobs said.

“It’s not just a fishing expedition, it’s casting a driftnet for the communications of all Australians regardless of whether they have ever been suspected of the slightest wrongdoing.

“Combined with the censorship policy, a pretty unhappy picture is emerging of this government’s attitude towards our digital lives.”

Some commentators have said the copyright lobby would inevitably try to use the scheme to hunt down and prosecute illegal file sharers, but Sabiene Heindl, head of the music industry’s anti-piracy arm, Music Industry Piracy Investigations, said: “We have no present intention to do that.”

McClelland’s spokesman defended the lack of transparency, saying the government had consulted broadly with industry about the plan but “it would not be appropriate to disclose policy discussions which are the subject of consultations with the industry”.

“These consultations have involved identifying the parties to a communication, where and when that communication is made and the communication’s duration,” the spokesman said.

“It does not include the content of a communication such as people’s conversations or contents of an internet banking session, for example.”

It is understood that earlier reports that web browsing history would be included were based on earlier drafts of the policy which stipulated content such as this would be logged and stored. The government appears to have since stepped down on this aspect of the scheme, although nothing is set in stone.

ZDNet.com.au, which originally reported that web browsing history would be logged, has stood by its original report, quoting sources yesterday as saying claims that URL history would not be retained were “not accurate”.

“The government has not as yet made any decision in relation to a data retention regime. However, any arrangement will strike the appropriate balance between individual privacy, commercial imperatives and community expectations that unlawful behaviour is investigated and prosecuted,” McClelland’s spokesman said.

Coroneos, who is able to comment more generally on similar data retention regimes adopted by EU states, said the industry in Australia already had a track record of assisting law-enforcement agencies and questions the need for a “blanket” regime covering the communications of all internet users.

“[Users] have legitimate privacy expectations and assume that their online communications and browsing activities are private unless they’ve been clearly informed otherwise,” he said.

“Secondly, there’s a question of whether the harm being being addressed is outweighed by the economic or social burden of the measures proposed. Are we cracking a nut with a sledgehammer here?”

Coroneos also raised concerns about security of the information that will be stored by ISPs and the expected high costs of implementing any scheme, which would inevitably be passed on to end users.

Australian Public servants create flu virus HOAX crisis and throw out over 20 mill down the drains whilst workers do more paperwork…

January 7, 2010 – SMH

Although only a quarter of them have been administered, taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill for 21 million swine flu vaccinations purchased by the government.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon was joined by the Australian Medical Association in her plea for people, particular children and pregnant women, to be vaccinated, News Limited is reporting.

Ms Roxon said because the government had prepared for each patient requiring two doses, when it has transpired one will suffice, there are plenty of free vaccinations available to the wider community.

Either way, taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill for the purchase of the vaccines which the government has committed to.

Australia has had 37,000 confirmed cases of swine flu and 191 deaths, private health insurers MBF have previously said.

We’ll fight them on the beaches: Bondi rubbishes council depot plan

JOSEPHINE TOVEY SMH

January 6, 2010

A COASTAL park in Bondi will become home to a 5000 square metre industrial depot under a council plan residents have described as absurd.

Waverley Council has been looking for a site to build depots after its facility in Zetland was earmarked for redevelopment by the City of Sydney.

But the choice of Hugh Bamford Reserve, a park at the northern end of Bondi Beach, as the site of one of the new depots has angered residents, who say it is a misuse of green space and are worried about noise, traffic and the destruction of heritage items.

The two-level depot, which would be built underground, would become home to 127 council workers and about 20 maintenance trucks and other vehicles, and would operate from 6am until 6pm every weekday.

More than 400 residents have joined a protest group on the Facebook website in the past three days.

A resident who lives opposite the reserve, Marietta Davis, said: ”They’re trying to move something from an industrial area to this beautiful, coastal land.

”It’s completely absurd.”

Several other council sites within the Waverley local government area – one of the most densely populated in Sydney – were considered but the reserve was deemed most suitable.

A Waverley Greens councillor, Mora Main, said the council should continue to explore other options, including buying a commercial site outside the council area. ”There is always a temptation for council to just jam everything into parks – depots, childcare centres, swimming pools,” she said.

”Open space is a land use in its own right.”

A council spokeswoman said moving the depot within the council area would reduce both travel times for staff and the council’s carbon footprint.

In order to build the depot the council would have to amend the open-space zoning of the site. The reserve is also home to the historic Ben Buckler gun battery, and has Aboriginal heritage significance.

The council spokeswoman denied excavating the site would endanger the heritage items. ”The proposed subdepot at Hugh Bamford Reserve has been designed to be built with a footprint that is clear of the rock carvings as well as the Bondi gun emplacement.”

The proposal is in its first phase of community consultation on the council website. A report on the feedback is expected to go before the council in March.

Public servants destabilise our world wide telecommunications footprint who continue to party on junkets to Hamilton island

Posted by David Braue @ 18:1026 comments

Streaker Robert Ogilvie may have learned the hard way that getting naked can be painful, but many other Australians are apparently learning the same lesson as they try to break ties with Telstra once and for all.

The promise of unconditioned local loop (ULL) services was always significant — allowing Internet service providers to offer customers a range of services over existing last-mile copper lines without relying on Telstra — but it appears that turning them into reality is proving much more complicated.

Just ask many of the would-be customers of so-called ‘Naked DSL’ services offered by iiNet, which bundles ADSL2+ and VoIP phone service over a ULL connection — without forcing customers to pay Telstra around AU$30 per month for a local line.

Although the mechanisms are in place to enable their switching, some iiNet customers are waiting far longer than expected to get hooked up with the new service.

This doesn’t bode well for a rather revolutionary telecommunications product that needs to get things right — and quickly — to resonate correctly with customers. It’s the kind of service that is likely to irritate Telstra supporters, who no doubt see it as unfair piggybacking on Telstra’s copper network.

Nonetheless, ‘naked’ services have become a rallying point for a host of Telstra competitors including Internode, Exetel, Adam Internet, Amnet, TPG, and Primus Telecom. Response to the offer has been strong: Optus’ Q3 results (for example, show that the company added 64,000 ULL customers in that quarter alone — bringing its total to 265,000 and contributing to a 28 percent increase in consumer on-net revenue. During the same time, Optus shed some 89,000 Telstra wholesale (‘off-net’) customers, which confirms the company’s strategy of promoting connections to its own network instead.

Perhaps the only company not seeing the potential of ULL is Telstra, which is hardly going to give customers a landline-free option no matter how much they may be asking for it. Heck, Telstra doesn’t even offer a consumer VoIP service; things just work differently in Telstra’s strategy.

Yet things couldn’t have worked better for Telstra after what many would-be iiNet customers are reporting waits of more than 30 days to get connected to Naked DSL. For a service that’s being marketed to the general population, you’d think the kinks would have been worked out in advance.

These kinds of problems are PR disasters for any kind of mainstream service — and are very hard to overcome if poor word-of-mouth isn’t contained early on. After all, just look at the VoIP industry, which was riding the early wave of anti-Telstra sentiment but has faded into a quiet obscurity of sorts as VoIP providers de-accentuate the fact that they’re actually using VoIP.

iiNet, like many others, is one of those trying to avoid consumer associations by focusing on what VoIP delivers, rather than how. “I think it’s irrelevant to customers,” said Michael Malone, iiNet’s founder and managing director, when I rang him to find out what was going on with Naked DSL.

“The questions we get up front are just about making sure everything goes to plan — but that’s normal for any broadband service. Your average customer doesn’t care about the technology.”

Certainly, however, waiting for more than four weeks is not a normal part of broadband service, I asked? Was Telstra being helpful enough in assisting iiNet’s customers to ditch their Telstra local loop services?

For someone whose company last week joined eight rivals in formally protesting Telstra’s wholesale-free ADSL2+ rollout, Malone was commendably restrained.

“I don’t actually see any of this as being malicious intent by Telstra to cause difficulty for our customers,” he said. “That’s the way it’s positioned sometimes, but the technicians themselves are doing what they’re required to. In reality, 97 percent are commissioned within the required timeframe of 20 working days; the ones you’ll hear about on Whirlpool are the ones where the wheels fell off.”

Well, not literally. But since each ULL rollout requires not one but two Telstra truck rolls — one to handle work at the Telstra exchange and another to confirm the service is working at the customer end — inevitable delays have blown out timeframes.

So, too, have a rash of floods and wild weather that has had Telstra techs battling more than just their swelling job lists.

Those lists have struggled to keep up with higher-than-expected demand, Malone explains (iiNet has connected over 8000 ULL customers in two months, ten times higher than the 500 to 1000 it predicted to Telstra when preparing to launch the service).

iiNet, you see, had initially begun offering ULL on the sly to business customers, who had been reluctant to stuff around with services that work, even if they’re expensive and slow. But once the word got into the general consumer space, things took on a life of their own — and so did the potential for delays.

Telstra, the consummate retail market payer, is great at managing broadband expectations — even if it does so by setting them low (in the case of fixed broadband) or high (in the case of Next-G). Can iiNet find equal success? “A year from now, I’d like to see this being our biggest selling product by a wide margin,” Malone said.

The goals of iiNet and its peers are ambitious — and, judging by demand, seemingly realistic. However, while the mixed experience of early ULL customers may be typical of any new technology — call quality and bandwidth issues hit many early adopters of VoIP, for example — ISPs hoping to use ULL to liberate customers from the Big T clearly need to figure out how they can better manage expectations for their soon-to-be naked customers.

Have you had issues getting naked (DSL)? Are there better ways to get rid of the landline? Or do these problems, perhaps, show why ULL was a bad idea from the get-go?

Public servants have bankrupted the UK with their banking mates in preparation for a flat 50% tax rate by 2020.

One in three public Servants has a £1m pension… and retires years earlier than private sector staff

By BECKY BARROW-Daily Mail 2010

1st January 2010

Biggest winner: Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, has a pension pot worth £2.55m

Nearly a third of top civil servants have a pension pot worth more than £1million, research reveals today.

The findings expose the gold-plated retirements which the ‘millionaire mandarins’ will enjoy at the expense of taxpayers.

To add insult to injury, the average civil servant retires at 58, an age when many private sector workers face another decade at work.

The figures, buried in Government documents and uncovered by Liberal Democrat research, highlight the pensions apartheid between the public and the private sector.

There are nearly 60 top civil servants whose pension pot is worth a six-figure sum. With a £1million pot, they can look forward to a pension worth about £50,000 a year, double the average salary.

Fewer than a third of private sector workers pay into a company pension scheme but, as taxpayers, will have to pay towards the lavish pensions of civil servants.

For the lucky few who do have a pension, the average pot is worth £26,000, according to the National Association of Pension Funds. This would pay a pension of £1,300 a year.

Lord Oakeshott, LibDem Treasury and Pensions spokesman, said civil servants’ pensions are like something out of ‘cloud cuckoo land’.

He said: ‘Mandarins with their millionaire pension pots are like landowners last century driving round in gas-guzzling Rolls-Royces.

‘It was a magnificent spectacle but unfair and unaffordable for the peasants who pay the bill.’

He called on the Government to cap the ‘monster’ pension pots to control the ballooning cost.

The research looked at the 188 senior civil servants whose pension pots are published every year in each Government department’s annual accounts.

The total value of their pension pots is £133million, according to the latest figures in the 2008/09 accounts.

To make matters worse, these valuations are usually extremely conservative, and experts say they can be up to 50 per cent below the real value of the pension.

The biggest winner is Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, whose pension pot is worth £2.55million.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the 60-year-old will get an annual pension of around £130,000 as well as a lump sum of around £380,000.

The second biggest winner is Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, who has a pension pot worth £2.3million.

This will give him a pension worth about £100,000 a year plus a lump sum of around £300,000. He resigned last month and will leave in May.

Ironically, another of the big winners is Leigh Lewis, permanent secretary to the Department for Work and Pensions.

His pension pot is £1.9million, which will give him a pension worth about £85,000 a year plus a £255,000 lump sum.

The basic state pension, which his department administers, is currently £95.25 a week, which is less than £5,000 a year.

The civil service pension scheme is one of the most generous in the world, and most workers are required to pay in just 1.5 per cent of their pensionable earnings.

The Treasury insists that public sector pensions remain ‘fully affordable and sustainable into the long term’.

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One thought on “OptionA Noddy redtape

  1. I have been watching “Border Security” on our pay TV satellite service. To watch the supercilious, bureaucratic officials who “protect” Australia’s borders, I for one, will never put myself at risk of the anally retentive security officials at your airports. That said, I have no idea why anyone would want to visit nanny state Australia.
    But that’s just me….

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