Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Australian Airline

The topic was: what was my take on the quarrel between Qantas and the various unions? I observed that Qantas had announced that it was going to move part of its operations to Asia and as a result cut 1,000 Australian jobs. This decision and announcement was approved by the Qantas board. The reason the unions were being so difficult is that they had demanded guarantees of continued employment for their members and these were not forthcoming. In addition, Qantas had repeatedly failed to make any offer on pay over a period of several months.

If I were Dictator of Australia I would invite Mr Joyce to visit my office and I would say:

" Mr Joyce, the Government of Australia has determined that the Qantas decision to move part of its operations to Asia is anti-Australian, and we therefore invite you to move the whole of Qantas' operations off-shore. The Government understands that this will cause Qantas to terminate the employment of quite a lot of Australians, but that won't be a problem, because the Government intends to establish a new Australian airline, operating domestically initially and subsequently internationally, and this new airline will employ every single one of your Australian staff. With their wages, conditions and entitlements intact.

" The new airline will be known as The Australian Airline (TAA), which may not mean a thing to you, but it has quite a lot of resonances for Australians. The airline will initially be 100% government owned, with that ownership diminishing to 50% over the first 5 years, and then staying at 50% thereafter. Just like Singapore Airlines, really.

" Now you're going to find that you have many short haul aircraft surplus to your future requirements, because your licence to operate domestically is going to be revoked. However, the Government will be happy to purchase every single one of them at a fair price to be determined by the Government Compensation Tribunal. Subject to extensive airworthiness checks by Air Services Australia, of course. In order to prevent you being your usual sneaky Irish self and flying the aircraft offshore we have grounded the Qantas domestic fleet as of right now.

" Now I'm sure you don't have any questions, because it's all pretty straightforward really. So on your way out the door, could you please call your staff and get them to start painting out the kangaroo on the tails of your international fleet? Better get rid of that 'Spirit of Australia' gubbins on the fuselage while you're at it. Quite inappropriate tag line for an Asian airline, wouldn't you think? "

Well, it's all very satisfying and self-indulgent, but it ain't gonna happen because Gillard doesn't have the ticker for that sort of decision. And Abbott isn't bright enough to think of it (probably couldn't sell what amounts to a nationalisation to his party anyway).

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

What's Hiding Under The Covers?

I came back from my walk to find a familiar motorcycle in the driveway and one of my sons inside the house. He said there was something for me hiding inside the house. Well, it wasn't very well hidden, but it looked so funny, all tucked up in bed, that I couldn't resist sharing my good fortune with my readership. Yes, dammit, I mean both of you   :-)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Hypocrisy Writ Huge

Joining a chorus of calls for an investigation into how Moamar Gaddaffi actually met his death:

" US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has backed calls for an investigation into the circumstances of his death.
Ms Clinton says there needs to be accountability for Gaddafi's death.
' I would strongly support both a UN investigation that has been called for and an investigation that the Transitional National Council has said they will conduct,' she said.
'I think it's important that this new government start with the rule of law, start with accountability.' "

So it's perfectly OK for NATO aircraft to hit Gaddafi's convoy with a sufficient number of high-explosive missiles to turn each one of 70 vehicles into a blazing inferno, but when the Misrata Militia finally catch Gaddaffi hiding in a ditch after escaping the bombing, it's not OK for them to kill him.

What about being called to account for vastly exceeding your remit, Hilary? The UN mandate was for a 'no-fly' zone. Are you trying to pretend that Gadaffi was trying to leave Sirte in a fleet of flying cars? Or are you taking 'no-fly' to mean 'no-flee' a.k.a. there's no escape?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Country Railway Station

Country railway stations have charm all of their own. Sadly, the number still in use continues to diminish. Yass Junction is one of the few remaining and that is because it is on the Southern Mainline. Two trains a day stop here: the XPT Down (from Sydney to Melbourne) and the XPT Up (from Melbourne to Sydney). The overnight XPTs only stop by special arrangement.

No idea what the bloke on the other platform is doing, since both trains stop at this platform, not that one. But even on a grey, wet day, the railway architecture is charming.

No sign of the train, and we're now 10 minutes past the scheduled arrival time. The station mistress tells me it will arrive in another 35 minutes just as the PA system announces that it will arrive in 15 minutes. She says: "Listen to me, not to that stupid thing, it's always wrong." A quick SMS to one of the passengers on the train confirms that they are just over half an hour away. Nothing to do but wait and watch the rain. And spot things:

A very neat piece of vandalism. Or may be it just fell off. Memo to Countrylink: don't use transfer letters, get a signwriter to do a proper job.

Are there really people who steal plastic bags full of garbage from a railway station platform? And if there are, are they really so stupid that they don't bring knives to cut away the bit of the bag secured by the padlock?

Finally, exactly 45 minutes late, just as the station mistress predicted, we have a train. After I took this shot I got to give the driver a wave, thinking "Why do people wave at trains?"