Dacka's Razor

Asbestos in future NBN pits - So who's to blame?

072361-130531-nbn-asbestosFurther to my other post - Another NBN farce, there has been further developments in who is to blame in what is fast becoming a scandal for the Government.

A serious health scandal that they can well afford given the latest Newspoll results.

While the Government is frantically trying to pin everything on Telstra, what is really at the heart of the issue is NBN Co not adequately planning for the safe removal of asbestos that they were advised years ago existed in Telstra pits that they always planned on using to roll out the NBN.

Not only were they repeatedly warned about the risk that these pits presented but the NBN has also been accused of providing inadequate training and preparation of NBN Co staff and contractors in removal of the asbestos by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Today's article in The Australian NBN shares asbestos blame as clean-up begins lays the groundwork (if you will pardon the pun) for what could be a devastating blow for a Government already renowned for an abysmal record in implementing major policy.

THE federal government agency building the National Broadband Network is being blamed for exposing workers to asbestos risks amid revelations it was warned two years ago to act on the danger.

Union officials accused NBN Co of failing to honour an agreement in 2011 to prepare workers for the asbestos hazards as emails confirmed that company executives were told of the challenge to the $37.4 billion project.

611187-raining-moneyGiven that the NBN is a project dreamed up by Rudd and Conroy on the back of a paper napkin on a plane flight without any proper planning or cost / benefit study, it is also not surprising to hear that the Government and its NBN lovechild has "managed" to bungle it's way into yet another embarrassing issue during its roll out phase.

I use the term "managed" very loosely, for the NBN has barely managed to do anything successfully other than spend money. Our money.

At the end of the day the pits are Telstra's property, however the NBN Co is a government "business" and the senior management of NBN Co are all appointments of the Federal Government.

Ergo, the Commonwealth Government is ultimately responsible for the work undertaken by NBN Co and it's affiliated contractors.

The Australian once again sheds light on the details that Labor are very anxious to keep out of the news.

As Julia Gillard sought to hold Telstra responsible for the workplace failures, The Australian was told last night that at least two recent asbestos incidents related to contractors working for NBN Co, not Telstra.

While attention focused on the release of asbestos by a Telstra contractor in Penrith in western Sydney, companies confirmed to The Australian that other incidents involved work for NBN Co.

One contractor, VisionStream, has been hit with two "improvement notices" by Comcare on asbestos handling at sites in Tasmania where it is conducting work for NBN Co, not Telstra. Last night NBN Co clarified that the incidents did not relate to asbestos exposure but to problems Comcare found with administrative processes and the safety gear contractors were required to wear.

But the company confirmed another incident involving one of its (NBN Co) contractors allegedly mishandling asbestos on a site near a Telstra pit in the Perth suburb of Victoria Park in February.

Another contractor, Syntheo, is the subject of complaints about asbestos released in the southern Adelaide suburb of Seaford, where it is doing work for NBN Co.

Already this issue looks like blowing up in Labor's face. SA Senator Stephen Xenophon is quite adamant about where the blame ultimately lays.

Senator Xenophon said the responsibility now went beyond Telstra. "This is a legal minefield in terms of NBN Co and ultimately the commonwealth bearing responsibility for shoddy practices that have exposed the public to deadly asbestos," he said.

Unfortunately for Labor it's not only the politicians from the other side of the ideological divide that are lining up either. The Unions are also far from impressed.

Union officials urged NBN Co in early 2011 to prepare the project's workforce for asbestos handling but that getting the company to act was "like pulling teeth".

Senior officials from the CEPU said they strongly backed Labor's NBN policy but believed the government company had failed to honour an agreement to protect workers from asbestos risks.

ETU assistant national secretary Allen Hicks was the union co-ordinator on the NBN project in 2010 and 2011.

Another official, David Mier of the CEPU, also said the government company had not listened to warnings and acted inadequately.

Mr Hicks and others raised the asbestos problems directly with NBN Co in 2010 and 2011.

To me it also looks like the Unions themselves really didn't do much to prevent what is shaping up to be quite an alarming issue.

If asbestos was such a concern for the Unions involved and some of their highest officials were intimately involved with the project and were experiencing issues getting NBN Co to address their concerns, why are we only hearing about it now after the damage has already been done?

In May 2011 NBN Co general manager of industrial relations Craig Byrnes told Mr Hicks and others by email the company would ensure workers were trained in a safety course on asbestos

But Mr Hicks said NBN Co had not delivered on its agreement.

"NBN Co haven't lived up to their end of the deal and they haven't enforced their agreement with the union on safety," he said yesterday. "It was like pulling teeth to get them to agree and recognise there was a problem."

Mr Hicks said NBN Co could be doing "significantly more" to address the problem.

"Even before the agreement was reached with Telstra we were talking to NBN Co," he said.

 

VicCFMEUohs rally 010909 076_0What the? The Union had "problems" getting the management of NBN to recognise the risk of asbestos? PROBLEMS RECOGNISING THE RISK OF ASBESTOS?!?

If the various Unions actually gave a stuff about the workers that they purport to represent and the wider public at large, how in the hell did they let the bloody work be undertaken in the first place when they were all well aware of the risks involved?

Isn't one of the main battle cries of the Unions about OH&S?

Aren't the Unions meant to protect the workers?

safetylogo-200x117It seems that the only times that OH&S is a critical issue is when it is on a commercial work site such as Grocon's various sites in Victoria, where the CFMEU held mass rallies to protest about not being allowed to have CFMEU appointed OH&S officials.

Oh, but that's different. But then again, so is asbestos.

Whether the NBN is a good policy objective in such financially troubled times is irrelevant. What matters now is how the public will perceive the obvious lack of planning and risk management, as well as the total lack of accountability in decision making in relation to remediating the existing asbestos.

This could be extremely damaging to the long term viability of not only the NBN Co, but also for the Unions involved, and ultimately the Labor government that clings grimly to power due to the support of the very same Unions.

Only 101 days to go.


Another NBN farce

Bill Leak - The Australian

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What type of format do you prefer to see on Dacka's Razor?

mr-busy-webAs I mentioned in my previous post, things are a little hectic in the Dacka household at the moment, which has resulted in me being a little irregular with my posts.

There are so many things going on, not only in my life, but also in the world that I would dearly love to comment on but unfortunately I am struggling for time to post at will like I used to.

I need to not only determine a set publishing timeframe but also understand what type of post format you prefer to read.

I do love to refer to an issue and then give my own detailed viewpoint on it, but I also read quite extensively and as a result I come across a good number of items on other blogs and in the papers that I feel deserve and need wider circulation in order to break through the MSM blockade.

Let me know what type of post format you prefer so that I can integrate that with the results from the previous poll to determine a posting format and timetable that people are interested in.

Once again, please vote so that I can tailor things to your preferences.

Cheers... Dacka


What day do you like to read Dacka's Razor?

11280504-cartoon-illustration-of-busy-businessmanOK so I have been a been a bit haphazard with the regularity of posts lately here at the Razor.

I am sorry for that, but I have quite a few things going in my life right at this very moment...

My wife and I are eagerly awaiting our first child, who is only about 6 weeks away, so we are busily readying the nursery and other bits and pieces around the house as well as attending the normal array of doctor appointments and the like.

On top of that, I am also busy working on getting my own business off the ground.  As anyone who has also gone through this process will understand, there are so many elements to this that it is taking up a lot of my time and energy.

To cap all of this activity off, I am also working at nights during the week in an effort to keep the money rolling in while my business is in it's infant stages.

Phew!  So much to do and so little time!

So what I would like members of the Razor Gang (that's you, my avid readers and followers!) to tell me is what day you would prefer to read Dacka's Razor.

Please vote and let me know!

Cheers... Dacka


The internets is back in town

funny-cat-away-Tom-Hanks-helpJust a quick one to say sorry for the being incommunicado lately...

I have been experiencing extreme internetdownitis this week when my modem decided to no longer allow me to connect to the world wide web of weirdness.

Suffice to say it is extremely difficult to blog on a smartphone over 3G.

But the internets gods today decided to send digital manna from heaven when they gave me the inspiration to not call telstra tech support and instead contact the maker of my modem.

Ten minutes later, internets problem solved.

Now, onto blogging so as to catch up... there's been a fair bit happening lately.

 


Labor's lasting legacy... Debt.

Debt is the word on the tip of everyone's tongue at the moment.

Everyone has some degree of private debt, such as mortgages, personal loans or credit cards, but do we really understand what debt is?

A debt is created when a creditor agrees to lend a sum of assets to a debtor.

Debt is usually granted with expected repayment; in modern society, in most cases, this includes repayment of the original sum, plus interest.

So, as most people would understand, debt must be paid back to creditors eventually.

We also have a maximum amount that creditors are willing to lend us.  Normally this debt ceiling is tied to our income and our propensity to pay back our debts.

So debt could be summed up as follows:

Whatever is borrowed must be paid back, with interest, and there is a limit to what we can borrow.

debt-ceilingBut what about government debt?  Surely that has to follow the same rules?

Well, that is only partially true. Governments do have to repay the debts that they rack up and they also have a debt ceiling.

The difference between people and governments is that governments can vote to increase their debt ceiling which, in a world of spiralling debt that is getting close to being out of control, is a little scary.

While most Australians would be well aware of our increasing level of national debt that Labor has saddled us with, what few would realise is that under this Labor government Australia's debt ceiling has been raised three times in the last four years and the future is anything but rosy.

Australia's rising debt ceiling

March 2009

  • Debt ceiling raised from $75 billion to $200 billion
  • Reason given - To allow for huge deficits stemming from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC)

May 2001

  • Debt ceiling raised from $200 billion to $250 billion
  • Reason given - Actual deficits exceed initial forecasts

May 2012

  • Debt ceiling raised from $250 billion to $300 billion
  • Reason given - Wider structural changes included in Budget, mainly to allow Labor to project budget surplus in 2012/13

December 2014

  • Debt ceiling will need to be raised again as Government Bonds on issue to fund repeated Budget blowouts finally exceed the current debt ceiling
  • Reason given - "Sledgehammer blow" to expected revenues due to dampened commodity prices for resources

Originally, Labor told us that the deficits were temporary and that increases to our debt ceiling would merely provide us with a buffer against the GFC.

In fact, it was Wayne Swan who boldly declared back in 2010:

Well, we’re getting back into surplus in three years. Come hell or high water.

Renowned speaker of truth, Prime Minister Julia Gillard also reassured a nervous electorate in 2010 that her team of economic wunderkinds were all over this surplus thing:

The Budget is coming back to surplus, no ifs no buts, it will happen.

However, the reality is that Australia's deficits and resultant debt has been anything but temporary, and the oft promised surplus of 2012/13 is now just a distant and faint memory blip in the torrent of soundbites that we are bombarded with from a constant 24/7 media cycle.

While most respected commentators realised that the promises of the magical surplus from Gillard and Swan were hollow platitudes, most of Australian's took them at face value. How could you not after they trumpeted them far and wide to all that would listen for 3 years?

Estimates abound that between them all Labor politicians promised the surplus over 300 times since 2010.  Catallaxy Files has a great synopsis of the surplus promise timeline which makes for entertaining, yet infinitely depressing reading.

It was Julia Gillard who yet again reinforced Labor's commitment to balancing the budget at Rooty Hill prior to the last election

Failure is not an option.

Unfortunately for us, failure is the ONLY option when it comes to the Australian Labor Party and money.

There will be no budget surplus in 2012/13 and as Wayne Swan confirmed in his budget speech there will be no surplus for the next four years, and when it does eventually arrive in 2017 it will be so wafer thin that it will have minimal impact on our economy.

By that time the Australian economy will very well have passed the tipping point of no return.

So what has Labor projected for the foreseeable future of our economy?  Deficits, more deficits and even more deficits to come.

Labor's decade of deficits

  • 2012 / 13 - $19.4 billion deficit
  • 2013 / 14 - $18.0 billion deficit
  • 2014 / 15 - $10.9 billion deficit
  • 2015 / 16 - Budget in balance
  • 2016 / 17 - Budget in surplus

cash-balance (1)This is on top of the accumulated deficits that they have already racked up since 2007 (see image at right).

Excuse me if I call "Shenanigans"

The last time a Labor Treasurer delivered a surplus was way back in 1989 so it’s hardly surprising that this year’s Labor surplus promises in 2013 are no more believable than the 300 odd promises they have given us since 2010.

By the time that these clowns manage to eventually get the budget back to surplus our national debt will have balloned to more than $400 billion dollars, all but blowing our current debt ceiling out of the water.

That is FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND MILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT.

Let's ask the world's greatest treasurer if we will once again have to raise our debt ceiling due to his gross ineptitude:

When asked if whoever won the election would need to raise the ceiling, Mr Swan said:

"Well, that will be a matter for them."

Um, no Wayne me old mate.  It is not just going to be a matter for the Liberals.

It is going to be something for ALL OF US Wayne. You know us, the REST OF AUSTRALIA?

If there was ever a clear cut example of the complete lack of care about this dire situation by the Labor Party, then surely Swan's disgraceful comment must be it.

debtDon't worry about the NDIS or Gonski reforms being Gillard and Swan's legacy.

Labor's legacy is a mountain of debt.

Always has been.

Always will be.


Is Tasmania a political wasteland? - Guest post by Tassie Trapper

watch-amanda-palmer-map-of-tasmania_hSome of you probably don't know this but I used to live in Hobart, Tasmania many years ago.

After losing interest in the rat race that was Melbourne, I decided to move to Tasmania so that I could attend the University of Tasmania in the relative peace that is Hobart and get a degree.

I had never been to Tassie before then, but like many Australians I had a quaint, somewhat idealistic notion of the place.

I thought that Tassie was a little behind modern times and was a pleasant throw back to a more sedate time in our society.

A place where people genuinely spoke to others in the street, where you knew your next door neighbours well, and you could comfortably have a chat to a stranger in the front bar of the pub without the raise of an slightly suspicious, questioning eyebrow.

All in all, things were generally a little more pleasant down in Tassie and I must say that thankfully, all of these things were true about Tassie.

Tassie is a lovely place, populated by a great number of humble, affable people that welcomed me with open arms, as well as being a place of unique environmental beauty.

But it wasn't until I had worked for the Tasmanian State Government in Economic Development that I started to take notice of the politics of Tasmania and how very different things were in Tassie to the rest of Australia.

Tasmania, like several mainland states, was a die hard Labor state when I was arrived in 1998 and not much has changed in the years since I left.

The Labor party has been in government for over 14 years now and it has overseen Tasmania's inexorable march to economic decline, a path that is well worn by socialist governments not only here in Australia but around the world.

A mate from Hobart that I used to play footy with summed up the situation recently with a post on Facebook that I felt outlined the situation in Tasmania very well. So well in fact that I contacted him to see if I could reproduce it here for you all.  Thankfully he was very receptive to the idea :)

With that in mind, I present to you the inaugural guest post by my mate Trapper on Dacka's Razor, hopefully the first of many such posts looking at the finer points of living in Tasmania from a local's perspective.

I hope you like it - Dacka

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Is Tasmania a political wasteland? - Guest post by Tassie Trapper

All other Australian states want economic development, especially Queensland and Western Australia, where they relentlessly pursue it.

These action orientated states deeply resent the stifling regulations that they perceive as being instigated from a remote and paternalistic national capital, administered by people who have no real idea of local needs or constraints.

In short, states such as WA and QLD go for it, as far and as fast as they can - and it pays off. Tasmania however is very different.

greenjobs

Any sort of proposal for almost any degree of change or development is almost always met with loud and instant opposition.

Overnight a committee springs up, and interest groups with no skin in the game essentially make decisions on behalf of all Tasmanians that will stymie development and virtually stall projects forever.

Of course, no-one would argue for a Rafferty’s rules type situation here in Tasmania – our island is far too special to allow that.

However, it is time we all acknowledged the elephant in the room and Tasmania’s economic elephant is called structural dysfunction.

Mainland states are becoming increasingly resentful of Tasmania's continual expectation of increases in GST funding to support our comfortable lifestyles, as they see it, at their expense. WA Premier Colin Barnett recently railed against the anti-development nature of Tasmania.

If they (Tasmanians) continue to reject any sort of development, well, what right is there to simply take the spoils of hard work in other states? - Colin Barnett

Objectively, you can see their point.

For every dollar raised in GST in the west, Western Australia only receives .71 cents in the dollar back from the Federal government.

Tasmania, on the other hand, receives $1.60 from the Federal government for every dollar raised in GST.

As the inequitable distribution shows, the only real thing Tasmania possesses is a serious lack of self-sufficiency.  Tasmania has become so reliant on handouts from the mainland that federal taxpayers prop up almost 70% of the Tasmanian budget.

protest1-wideIn its simplest terms, one-third of Tasmania's workforce is in the public service, one-third is on social welfare, the other third is in private enterprise.

Tasmania has more public servants per head of population than any other state – one for every 16 people, as against one for every 21 in Victoria for example.

The Tasmanian public sector has even outstripped the growth seen in Canberra, with increases of almost 34% in the past 10 years.

One financial analyst has calculated that the public sector wages bill has risen from $1.32 billion in 2003-04 to $2.23 billion in the last financial year alone.

These levels of imbalance are simply unsustainable.

The response to this structural dysfunction has been to snip around the edges of the problem; take some mobile phones away from police officers, threaten small schools with closure, trim the health budget, and shy away from reunifying the three electricity authorities to achieve/restore economies of scale.

Difficult as it may be to accept, none of these things will address the real problem. This is the modern equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns. If we are to move beyond this unsustainable structure, we need to totally rebuild our economic model – and that means growing our state’s income, as well as reining in costs.

Late last year, former Labor minister Julian Amos interviewed 60 Tasmanian CEOs, union leaders, heads of peak industry bodies, economists, heads of government agencies and political commentators and came up with a damning assessment of the state's economy.

On the front page of the report, Dr Amos said

Tasmania is wallowing in the comfort of mediocrity, a mendicant state, fast becoming an aged care facility in a national park.

The Labor government has no clear direction for the ailing economy of this state or its long term future. The Labor Government has had long enough to prove itself as a erudite and visionary party.

While it's clearly time for change,  I agree with the notion that there will be no overnight fix for the economic wilderness that Tasmania currently finds itself in.

BaconpremierLabor have been in power since 1998 when the late Jim Bacon was elected into power after his home state of Victoria had basically sent him into exile as they had no confidence in his ability.

Bacon then set about creating a union paradise by enticing his old union mates such as John Halfpenny and company down to the Apple Isle to live a life of power and almost dictatorship.

The arrangement was rolled gold for some, almost to the extent of insider trading, but as with all things, the good times must come to an end and they have  well and truly ended for Labor in Tasmania.

Since Bacon's untimely death from cancer in 2004,  there has been a string of Labor leaders fill the rotating post of Premier of Tasmania.  All of these momentary leaders eventually lost the confidence of not only the Tasmanian populous but also from the rest of our nation.

Constant scandal has surrounded the various leaders of the Labor party in Tasmania and the current Premier is only there by proxy.

sign1Lara Giddiness, sorry Giddings, (sometimes predictive text has a habit of suggestive ironic alternatives!) has no real thrust to her political vision, nor does she possess the ruthless nature to create the vastly different political landscape that Tasmania needs to ensure a prosperous future.

In essence, Giddings has no credibility here in Tasmania let alone on the Big Island that our mainland cousins call Australia.

Lara, please stop with the outstretched hands; Develop a real economic plan and stop relying on assistance from the Big Island to underwrite our state.

The Liberal party doesn't have all the answers to our problems and as we all know from the proverb Rome wasn't built in a day but after 14 long years of no real long term economic vision, inept political bungling and blatant featherbedding, surely the time for the winds of change to sweep over the Tasmanian political plains is now.

windsofchange


What is wrong with these kids?

bullyingKids.  We all know that kids can be mean, malicious even with their teasing and bullying like behaviour.

In our day school yard bullying existed but it was kind of looked at it as a somewhat normal trial of childhood that most of us had to endure, something that made us stronger and more resilient as we came out the other side.

But not today.

Schoolyard bullying has reached such shocking level that now kids are being scarred for life or even worse, taking their own lives due to the incessant torment of moronic, out of control children who have no moral compass.

Today's news that a young child who suffers slight autism has lost both hands after a homemade explosive device was thrown at him just makes me ill.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale this morning said the boy had spoken for the first time since the incident.

He has just come out surgery and he has related he was sitting around the table with a few boys and some young boy ... who has always been a bully to him has thrown some sort of golf ball explosive  device at him and it has exploded.

All I'm saying is this person needs to have some consequences for his actions because what he has done has sort of destroyed a young 15-year-old boy's life.

So this doesn't sound like a random accident, this sounds like a premeditated effort.  It comes as no surprise that the alleged offender has form.

Mr Clifton said he was told people in the community knew about the homemade bomb earlier in the day.

"I'd just like to see justice done," he said. "If he has done wrong punish him (the boy who allegedly threw the device).

"He has been in trouble with the law heaps of times before and they just don't punish these kids."

Not only should this "child" be punished, he should be punished as an adult would.  Anyone with half a brain knows how dangerous explosives are and what the ramifications of throwing it at someone would be.

Not only should the child have the book thrown at him, so too should his parents.  Just who are these people?

Next we will hear that there is some mitgating reason behind this foul persons behaviour, which is just rubbish that enables and excuses young people from their actions.

Regardless of who, what, where and when, these people should be held fully accountable for ruining a young man's life.

One that was already difficult enough due to his autism but made infinitely more difficult because of one child's anti-social behaviour and his parents obvious lack of moral guidance


Petrol Pump Got Talent

Americas-Got-Talent-Reality TV shows have been all the rage for several years now.

Whether you think that this is a good thing or not is beside the point, they are popular.

Currently the flavour of the month in reality TV land are shows such as The Voice or America's Got Talent, shows which focus on everyday showbiz hopefuls showcasing their sometimes dubious singing talents in an effort to become the next singing superstar.

This grab from Jay Leno's Pumpcast News in the US may have inadvertantly discovered a couple of people who could rival any contestant on those staged shows. This is as raw as you can get!

The clip features a couple of everyday Americans getting down with some impromptu versions of the 80's most popular songs whilst pumping gas.

And as you will see in the video below, despite being blissfully unaware of the hidden cameras, they have an absolute gas hamming it up!

Now these guys have real talent and a real verve for performance to boot.

Gold, absolute gold effort from the couple at pump 16 in Birbank, California.