Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Federal Government PR in Full Swing

Late this morning we had a number of press conferences, where Federal Government Ministers attempted to ameliorate bad news, announce something new, and indulge in a little gratuitous Oppostion-bashing. Don't get me wrong - the previous Coalition Government, now in Oppostion, did the same things.

Parliament is in recess till May, when the budget will be delivered to Parliament. The polls give Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Federal Labor Government substantial leads over the Opposition, led by Malcolm Turnbull.

The Government's response: lay as much blame for the bad news on the previous Coalition Government.
  • Deputy PM Julia Gillard did it when talking about the unfettered highly-debt-geared business plans, and planned market dominance by ABC Learning Child Care, which is now in receivership. At the same time, she announced the "good news" that of the 241 ABC Learning Centres, 210 will be sold, and that the Government has been working with the administrator to find jobs for those who work in others. Oh, and your child care will be prioritised.
  • Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Wayne Swan ran a double act. Roxon ran the new alcopop legislation to validate tax already collected , and the "new" related legislation to retain teh increased tax rate; and the health benefits. Treasurer Swan took his turn, and indulged in a spot of Opposition bashing: the Liberal Party, the Opposition, and Malcolm Turnbull all copped a serve.

All round, it was presented as "good news from the government", and a "smack in the mouth for the Opposition". Monty Python would be proud. Ahhh. Don't you just love marketing ... err ... I mean "press conferences"?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Respite For Premier Rees

NSW Premier Nathan Rees will doubtless see the Easter holidays as a welcome distraction.

The media is full of Easter stories, tabloid "stories" about "celebrities" (Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban; Hugh Jackman; Cathy Freeman's wedding; TV/radio people; Sydney's social butterflies; 2-bit starlets, et al.), sport, more sport, and Kevin Rudd.

Nathan Rees will welcome the respite from the recent news stories about
  • two electrical blackouts affecting Sydney CBD & surrounds;
  • former (sacked) Minister for Small Business, Tony Stewart, who is suing the State for unfair dismissal ( ); Memo: it's politics, Tony, get over it!
  • voter and media dissent over Joe Tripodi's 3-week around-the-world trip at taxpayers' expense. He will visit Hong Kong, China, New York, Canada, London and maybe Spain, hoping to find a buyer for NSW retail electricity assets. Given the parlous state of the financial world in New York and London, Mr Tripodi might find potential buyers scarce in those places. He might still find a few people at tourist venues. Many, especially the media, will look forward to his timely, comprehensive report to NSW Parliament. (ROFLOL!) I just can't help remembering that there were whispers in Joe's right-wing ear that it might be time for him to retire from Parliament.
  • news that NSW proposes to sell NSW Lotteries, an enterprise that returns more than $400 million to NSW Treasury each year. The news was released on Thursday, just when many voters were setting off for the Easter weekend, and when many voters are not interested in news.
Little wonder Premier Rees was looking forward to Easter. I hope he, and his new wife, enjoy the break.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Sydney Buildings Told To Reduce Power

Sydney's CBD and some surrounds were again affected by a power blackout on Saturday. It was the second blackout in six days. Both also affected the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, and an emergency generator has reportedly been installed to ensure it remains open. Owners of large buildings have beeen asked to reduce power consumption, especially from air conditioners, to avoid more blackouts.

Energy australia has indicated it will take some time to restore all the "backup" supply lines, and repair the main, 130kV, line under Circular Quay, which apparently failed when some earth subsidence affected its insulation.

Perhaps it is pertinent for the NSW State Government to look at:
  • electricity supply lines to the CBD, and other strategic areas.
  • current and future requirements, capacity and infrastructure.
  • building codes for large, multi-storey, air conditioned buildings. Should there be a requirement for emergency power to take lifts to the next lowest level, from backup generators or battery systems? Before you laugh, consider the dozens of people who had to be rescued, largely in darkness, from 34 lifts across the CBD last Monday, 30 March. 34 different lifts for emergency services to attend! Perhaps, too, building codes for new multi-storey buildings to have solar power generators on their rooftops, and greater requirements for passive cooling systems on all buildings to reduce reliance on energy-gulping air conditioners. Hey - there'll be economic stimulus & job creation benefits, too.
Governments, and Oppositions, in this situation are usually light on action, and big on talk and approtioning blame. Premier Nathan Rees's Government will likely be no different. Someone else will be told to "fix it".