Sunday, 29 March 2009

Politician Disappointment

I sympathise with the lot of Politicians, or at least I try to.

I believe Politicians are under paid. In particular, I believe Ministers are severely under paid compared to senior executive roles in the commercial world, and a Minister is very much a Senior Executive.

In addition, every aspect of what they do publically and privately is under extreme public scrutiny and then every 3 years they have to re-apply for their job. And the working hours are excessive, by any measure.

Politicians do enjoy generous Superannuation benefits compared to the commercial world, or do they? The entitlements of Federal Politicians on leaving Parliament are nothing like the termination benefits paid to Senior Executives.

John Howard was a Federal Parliamentary Member for about the same number of years that Alan Moss was at Macquarie Bank. Only one of these gentlemen received a payout of between $50 and $80 million and it wasn’t the one with the most demanding job.

However, it is not compulsory to put yourself forward for Elected Office. You do it with full knowledge of what you will face.

Maybe an aspiring Politician is driven by an ideological desire to serve their community, to better the lives of others or to deliver outcomes they truly believe in.

A cynic may say that because the pay is so bad, they aspire for a Political career because they are not very good at what ever it is they thought they would be doing so Politics in relative terms is a lucrative option; the pay peanuts and get monkeys philosophy.

What ever the motive, I try to believe our Politicians do have the best interests of the Country at hand and within the confines of Political reality, are honest and credible.

But it is ever so hard when you the likes of Joel Fitzgibbon emerge.

Our Federal Minister for Defence could recall a free trip across the pond to New Zealand for a Politicians Rugby Team and a trip to the Gold Coast funded by the Australian Hotel Association for a Tourism Award Function.

He could not however recall two trips to China flying Business Class and staying at 5 star hotels. And for one of these trips, he apparently departed on Christmas day. (Not at all memorable when you have a young family)

If it was simply a failure to make the necessary entries on the Parliament’s Register of Interests it could perhaps be forgiven as being sloppy or lazy – at least it could be if their was only one trip. Being sloppy, lazy or even making and administrative error is almost excusable (even for the Minister responsible for the defence of the Nation, almost excusable).

However Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was asked a direct question at a news conference on Thursday:

"Have any of your trips to Beijing been paid for by Ms Liu or any of her companies?"

Mr. Fitzgibbon responded by saying he had only received small gifts from Ms Liu, birthdays etc etc etc.

There are two simple explanations. Joel Fitzgibbon is either being untruthful or is totally incompetent.

And this person oversees the Department with one of the biggest budgets and with the responsibility for this county’s defence and the execution of Government decisions involving overseas military activities such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Timor.

I for one would like to have more confidence in my Defence Minister. However, it seems the Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister while expressing disappointment, are not taking any action against the Minister and by doing so, are effectively endorsing his behavior (or is it incompetence)

The lack of action defines the morals of the Government and does nothing to improve the perception of the profession of representative politics.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Is it all about the bike (Part II)

Some time ago I wrote about the pressure I always seem to be under to upgrade my bike.

In the blog post, I referred to my basic satisfaction with the current unit and the fact that I do not perceive it was preventing me achieving any cycling goals, well at least not yet.

Right now, my inclination is to remove the previous entry and deny I ever had such thoughts.

And what about the sequence of events that has led me to this thought process.

Up as usual at 4.10 am. Breakfast etc and into the car. As is the habit, suit etc were packed the night before.

All too often it is a rush to get to the Roma Street meeting place by 5.15 am for a bunch ride but this morning I was on schedule to make it without a mad rush and maybe even with a minute to spare.

Enter the car park and park the car, get the bike out and discover a flat rear tyre.

A quick calculation is all I need to realise if I replace the tube the time it takes means I will miss the bunch start, so not wanting to ride the 40 or so k’s solo without a spare tube (because I would have used the one I had) it is straight to the shower and I am in the office at 5.40am, and very determined to now get away early enough to ride in the afternoon. (Believe me, I would much rather be riding at 5.40 am than following the New York stock market)

There are a few club members who ride most afternoons at about 5.00 pm to either Nudgee or Shorncliffe so sendan SMS to confirm the ride is on today and decide to link with them. So at 4.00 pm I rush home, grab the old (and much loved) steel bike and head to the Nudgee Circuit. And that is where the problem begins.

One of the cyclists arrives on his brand new Time – I think it is a VXRS UL Team Worldstar model and with Fulcrum Zeros, it looks sensational.

I have always admired Time bikes. I think they just drip style and class. And now, for no particularly logical reason I want one. Or if not a Time, a new bike of another brand or model.

With a bit of luck, I will get over this urge – like you get over a headache. It may just be a bout of temporary insanity. It may be having some spare purchasing capacity having just decided not to buy a new car.

Or it maybe that deep down, I really do want a new bike to enjoy and show off and I have been simply resorting to rational thoughts to convince myself I don’t need or want a new bike.

However, I have many friends who think getting up 4 or more mornings a week at 4.10 am defies any concept of rationality so maybe cycling addiction and rational thoughts are an oxymoron anyway.

To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the dilemma.

But that Time sure looks good.

TV Debut

I will count you in. Look at the camera and start speaking after “one”. You have one take only so get it right.

Five, Four, Three, Two, One…..

“Welcome to the State Hockey Centre in the Brisbane suburb of Colmslie where on a cloudy overcast day we are hear for the opening game of the 2009 Hockey Brisbane season between Division one women’s teams Valleys and Saint Andrews.

My name is Colin Morley and with me today are co commentators Bernadette Poxxxxxx and George Clxxxx.

With both teams having players in Hobart with the Queensland Scorches Bernadette, what can we expect to see today?

Etc etc etc from Bernadette

And George, where do you think the decisive battles will be today.

Etc etc etc from George

Now we will cross to Nikki Taxxxx who is with the coaches.”

And so ended the opening take of our first hockey broadcast for QCTV.

Nerve racking? Absolutely.
Exciting? Yes
Adrenalin? Certainly.

We then had a 15 minute break before the game commenced and we were in to the commentary and special comments.

Being a women’s game, George and I new little about the players but Bernadette was great with her knowledge.

We settled down after half time and what was to be a test day has proved to be good enough to go to air next Saturday at noon.

Our downloads after the game proved very consistent. We were all aware of using similar words and phrases over and over again. We were also aware that when we try to think of something to say it is hard, but when we relax, it all comes pretty smoothly.

Not withstanding, we were probably rubbish, but perhaps with potential.

For all of us who sit at home and dream of being commentators, it is far more difficult than it looks.

Having said that, I can’t wait to have another crack on 4 April. So:-

On behalf of Bernadette and George, that’s all from the State Hockey Centre today and we look forward to having your company again on QCTV for the next round of Brisbane Hockey on 4 April.

Sigh of relief and huge buzz.

But I am not sure I want to watch it on Saturday.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Anna and Lawrence - It's about what you can influence

Our two State political leaders are sprouting their respective plans for relieving the impact of the global financial crisis on Queensland.

Realistically, how much can they really do?

The domain of local Government is sewerage, water distribution, garbage, sewerage, traffic control and local public transport.

The Federal Government deals with defence, tax and fiscal policy, foreign affairs, social security, border security, customs and excise and tertiary education.

And State Governments primarily deal with State transport infrastructure, power, water, primary and secondary education, health and law and order.

So why are our Queensland Political Leaders talking about relieving the impact of the global financial crisis when in reality, what ever they do will have limited if any impact.

Prime Minister Rudd and Treasurer Swann quite reasonably point out there is little if we in Australia can do about what is happening in financial markets overseas. Our economy is so small in the wider scheme of things that we are being taken and will continue to be taken along for the economic ride.

Sure, we have had several stimulus packages and while it is claimed these measure have had an effect, measuring the effect is virtually impossible.

Queensland, and all other States are a further rung down the global ladder, so why do our State political leaders think they can do what all other National Governments the world over are failing to do?

Both leaders are making promises around health; however our public health system is in such a mess, it will take a decade or more to really achieve anything. Besides neither party want to say too much about Health that they can be held accountable for at a future date.

There has been passing attention to education and infrastructure, and water is not as high on our awareness barometers since recent rains in the South East.

So what about Law and Order? I am not aware of any substantive reference to Law and Order during the campaign. Although I have not seen any outputs from today’s campaign launches.

I had a call from a close friend last Friday. His 70 year old uncle had been attacked and robbed just near his home in a major regional city. The attack like all attacks was cowardly. It was also cruel and vicious and involved what appears to be acid being thrown in his face. He is still unconscious and in intensive care having been transferred to Brisbane.

It is a sickening act in every way.

Law and Order is not just about policing and jails. It is also about education and reform programs for first time and juvenile offenders.

From what I have seen, there has been little if anything mentioned to do with law and order during the campaign. It obviously isn’t sexy, or is it a case of if it hasn’t effected me, it doesn’t matter, therefore there are few votes to be won.

Time for our State Leaders to get back to the issues they can genuinely and meaningfully influence and leave the global financial crisis to those who can do something about that too.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Is the "R" Word so Wrong

In breaking news, the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Australian Treasurer Wayne Swann have decided to change their surnames. Further more, they are going to both adopt the same surname.

Kevie and Wayno were both born in the late 1950’s and as such, enjoyed their teenage years in the 70’s.

The 70’s was a period in Australia when colour television came of age and with it we enjoyed a raft of American sitcoms. It was also the beginning of Australian’s becoming somewhat “Americanised” with our language, our fashion and our food likes and dislikes.

For a few years, both went to the same high school on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and while a year apart, they did know each other.

It seems that much of that early communication centred around their preferred television shows and it is apparent both were fond of a popular comedy based on the lives and times of an American family in the 50’s and 60’s and the activities of their teenage son and his friends and associates.

One character emerged as the dominant personality on the show and it is this character our erstwhile leaders admired most and now seek to emulate.

There was one word this particular character was simply unable to say. The word would not come out of his mouth and in fact would fail to even form in his mouth.

Kevie and Wayno seem to have the same problem with a particular word.

As Prime Minister and Treasurer, Kevie and Wayno are essentially our front line leaders on all things economic particularly during these tough financial times.

Why is it that our economic leaders are unable to even say the word recession?

I don’t care what the definition of recession is. I don’t even care if we are in technical or actual recession, or if it feels like a recession.

I care however if our economic leaders are unable to say the word or even address the issue

I also care if they have no view on the matter and as such are unable, or unwilling to provide leadership.

If they believe Australia is in recession – say so.

If they believe Australia is not in recession - say so.

Because at the moment, they give me the impression they are hiding something or being sneaky.
Or perhaps they simply do not understand the issue or have not the slightest idea. (And this is not likely to be the case)

For all our sake, come clean with us. We have a right to know what you really believe is happening to our economy.

If a Doctor refuses to tell a patient they are sick, the illness cannot be treated and the patient cannot correct or adapt their behavior accordingly.

We hear we are economically sick. Kevie and Wayno, please tell us if we are suffering the sickness of recession, or are likely to be sick with recession.

Kevie and Wayno surely must be changing their surnames to Fonzerelli in honour of the famous character from Happy Days, Arthur Fonzerelli or The Fonz.

The Fonz was famous for not being able to utter the word “wrong”.

Kevin Fonzerelli and Wayne Fonzerelli are unable to utter the word recession.

Although, I suspect Kevin is also unable to say the word wrong – at least when referring to himself.