Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

 Dump the rhetoric: take the future seriously

 Many young and old unemployed people express disbelief when they hear politicians talk about how the policies of their Government will increase jobs which will give them an opportunity of getting work. But when asked by the young unemployed how many jobs will be created and how long to create them, as is usual the politicians’ answers are confusing and short on detail. The result: the young think the job creation story a political fairy tale being used pacify them. Nonetheless the Government worries that the young people’s attitude could be reflected in a loss of votes at the next election.

But what about the older people in the unemployment queue? Many say Government policies put them on the dole not something they ever expected from the current Government. Those unemployed Canberrans in the queue who formerly were employed in the Public Service say they need more than political fairy tales to cure their disappointment.

I confess, too, that I am sceptical about the tales of job creation. The reason for my scepticism is that I have never seen a detailed analysis of where jobs have been created leaving me with the impression that many of the jobs ostensibly created, came when people who had worked for an hour reduced the unemployment statistics.

My scepticism, and that of the unemployed, could be removed by showing where the jobs had been created. Were they in manufacturing, finance, retailing, mining, shipping, tourism? Were they full time, part time or casual? Were they jobs that offered a future, particularly to young people?

In Canberra, the building industry, retail and the public service are the main sources of employment with tourism and IT also prominent. Tourism is often spoken of with reverence by politicians as if it was the holy grail of employment. Unfortunately, pollie talk is really ‘polly’ talk: indeed I know some people in the tourism industry think parrots could talk about tourism better than politicians who seem unaware that 35 per cent of jobs in tourism are only casual or part time, unaware also that probably only 5% of jobs in tourism offer long term career prospects and that promotion generally means moving from place to place. As for Information Technology (IT) despite masses of hype, IT has not turned out to be the proverbial employment gold mine that was once envisaged.

While being unemployed is bad enough, unfortunately it can cause worse problems. In Canberra the number of people being made homeless through being unemployed is growing. While social services do as much as they can to alleviate the problem, it cannot stop a person feeling a loss of dignity or pay the mortgage on a family home or provide the slide into depression and mental illness and other problems such as excessive alcohol use, drug use and domestic violence that often accompany homelessness.

Fine speeches and good intentions will not cure unemployment and in Canberra, employment will only replace unemployment when reality replaces rhetoric. And reality means new industries need to be developed even if they upset some of our self – indulgent citizens. Two suggestions: as the TGA is already here why doesn’t the ACT Government invest in a national medi -park for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals; a light industry park with a complementary programme of incentives to attract small business; and why not a plant to produce manufactured homes that almost certainly will not only become part of Canberra’s housing stock but also cities and towns across Australia.

Comment welcome.

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My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

 

Letters to the editor

Have you ever written a letter to the editor? As a male ex letter to the editor writer, let me warn other males they should beware of taking it up as a hobby because writing letters to the editor can become even more seductive than your wife or the woman of your dreams.

Apart from being seductive, and depending on much you hope your efforts are successful, letter writing can also become obsessive with some letter writers becoming so consumed by writing them that occasionally their day passes in a daze. What they don’t know is, that if successful in getting them published could start them on the road of serious consequences.

Not that I wish to make men feel uncomfortable but, like an Afghanistan road planted with IEDs, the road of serious consequences has IEDs marked divorce, psychiatrist, murder, moneylenders, suicide and, nearest mental facility.

Although you might never trip any of the latter you’ll find out how expensive your hobby can become if you want to be taken seriously. For this to happen, you must keep up with the news from around the world. Unfortunately, the internet today, the main source of overseas news, can be expensive. Of course if you’re interest is confined to your own locality your main news source is likely to be either your local newspaper, local radio and TV stations.

And beware of addiction to a particular subject, politics for example, a fate that befalls some letter writers. A short digression: Politics is an addiction which is why so many politicians seem to think voters are there to serve them, not the other way round.   

Digression over I can only add that food is not often featured on the letter pages despite it reaching epidemic levels with various TV programmes and glossy magazines with inserts designed to appeal to the glutton in us. This seems odd in an affluent society like Australia when so many newspapers run features about churches and other organisations setting up programmes to help society’s neediest keep the wolf from the door.

Other subjects prominent on the letters page are education, health, planning, science and climate change. Letters about religion are of a different kettle of fish. They are more a war of words between Christians and Muslims that looks as if it will continue for some time to come. My hope: that this war keeps being fought on the letters pages and never reaches the streets. Optimistic as I am, I am braced for disappointment.

Even though there are many letters about community issues, sadly, I have to say, the underlying theme in many of these letters is not the offer of sensible alternatives but a spruik in support of a political party.

Effectively the letter writers use the letter pages as a means of gaining unpaid (?) political advertising. While you might question this statement just start reading the letter pages and you’ll soon see what I mean.

What rescues the letters pages from these writers are letters from writers who have resisted party political indoctrination and have opinions that run contrary to those of all political parties. For me, some of these people should be in parliament.

I’d like to end by stressing that the purpose of this blog is not to discourage people from writing letters to the editor but to point out to those considering the idea that the letters page can be a great vehicle for giving community the opportunity to read about ideas that, while not necessarily earth shattering in importance, nonetheless offer the sensible solutions to problems that elected politicians fail to offer.

I can but add that if you don’t like the idea of writing a letter to the editor you can always start a blog of your own.

Comment welcome.

If you would like to receive these Articles automatically you can RSS it or become a follower by using the ‘follow’ connection at bottom right of the published page.

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Budgets are illusions and promises

Budgets have different effects on voters and non-voters with young people the biggest segment of the latter. For some people, the day of the budget will be day of celebration because it addresses their needs while for others it will be the day they wished the treasurer could be hung drawn and quartered.

On the other hand after budget day has come and  gone, many young non -voters wonder what all the fuss was about; why their parents had voted for a party that thought the treasurer was a person of financial competence; and why their parents hadn’t consulted them because either they could have done better or knew someone who could.

But putting the wisdom of young non-voters aside for a moment, why is so much made of budget day? I ask because if the budget is supposed to remain secret until delivered, why is so much of what the budget contains leaked in the days previous to it being delivered?

Once upon a time a journalist finding out budget details pre budget delivery and publishing them would claim it as a scoop. These days, with so many budget leaks before budget day, what formerly were scoops are now thought of as old news..

That budget details are leaked is not because treasurers have cast aside their reputation as scrooges but because they want to gauge public reaction to the leaked details so that they can prepare for questions on Budget Day It also gives them time to think up suitable incentives to counter any bad reactions to the leaked details by different sections of the community. When tackled about this, their reply could best be summed as – that’s politics.

Adding to the charade of the budget being secret, what is known as a lock up takes place. The lock up is where journalists and interested parties, but not Mr and Mrs Ordinary voter, as politicians like to call them, will be represented when the budget is delivered a stance that  to me, suggests contempt for Mr and Mrs Everyman.  On this basis, it could be further argued that budgets are undemocratic because they do not reflect the community’s wishes about how its money is to be spent.  A further argument: a budget is even more undemocratic if the Treasurer is part of a minority Government.

Some voters say they find it odd when Treasurers without family say they know how economic conditions ‘impact” (do they mean affect?) family budgets. The fact is, most family treasurers don’t need an IQ that would make them eligible for MENSA to tell them that. And even if the family’s treasurer is not financially minded most know when they can’t afford the things they’d usually buy- like food for example. That apart, how many families actually do a budget? Few, I think.

Today, Tuesday 4 June is Budget Day in the ACT. This blog has been written about budgets in general but whether or not it will be a budget of illusions and promises I won’t know until I’ve studied and absorbed it. For example, what will interest me is how it treats disability and the Arts? Of equal interest is what it will say about Canberra’s future particularly in relation to business. For example will the budget make the business world feel optimistic enough to suggest that it will have jobs for school leavers in the future?

And while there could be many other things worth writing about, I won’t speculate about what they might be. I’ll wait for the budget to find out.

Comment welcome.

If you would like to receive these Articles automatically you can RSS it or become a follower by using the ‘follow’ connection at bottom right of the published page.

 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Australia: a risk averse and nannie state 

These statements might come as a surprise to people living in other countries and to those Australians who bristle if they think someone is either questioning their own long held perception of Australia as a country of rebels who constantly question authority or, suggest it is becoming a nannie state. Of the two I think the suggestion they would dislike most is suggestion two. And they would bristle at two because it would diminish Australia’s reputation as a country of opportunity that encouraged entrepreneurs prepared to take risks and also valued hard work.

Last Wednesday,1 May, what I drew from the speech at the National Press Club, Canberra, by Alex Malley CEO of the FCPA as he launched the book “Australia’s Competitiveness From Lucky Country to Competitive Country” by Professors Michael Enright and Richard Petty, was that Australia had become as conformist as the countries to which it owed much of its population, a conformity that accelerated during the sixties and seventies.

This conformity came about because the refugees and post 1945 migrants took the view that if they were to succeed in Australia they had to adopt the values and copy the prevalent life style. In effect it was a kind of cloning by example, not science. But when the sixties and seventies came their children started adopting values and lifestyles copied from US television, that many parents found difficult to accept, little realising the same thing was happening in the US, albeit on a bigger scale. And as new communication and information technology arrived society’s old parameters were tossed out and Tsunami like change overwhelmed society.

In their desire for change, thankfully not all baby boomers discarded older values Some realised they were enjoying the benefits created by the society whose values their peers were in a rush to get rid of. I should add that much of what the latter wanted to get rid of was the creation of entrepreneurs who thought Australia was really a land of opportunity.

The fact many baby boomers exhibited a mindset of beggarliness, a mindset that continues today. They thought the Government should keep them in the style they thought they deserved. Their shibboleth: Gimme!  Gimme! Gimme! And as is their wont, politicians interested more in their own future than the future of Australia, gave in to them and in the process laid the foundation for the Nannie State.

Fortunately for Australia, many of the sixties’ entrepreneurs not averse to taking a risk invested in learning the culture, work, business ethics and politics of neighbouring countries also caught up in change.

In the course of the last two decades however, Australia has begun to learn that not only has politics changed internally but also internationally with the parties we know sitting uncomfortably in the changing Australia just as our old fashioned uncles and aunties sat as society changed around them.

Party members also behave like some of our old fashioned aunties and uncles. They sit immovable and stone faced watching the world pass all the time tut-tutting that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. It is also inevitable that societies keep imitating previous societies. Unfortunately, as history shows, by not adapting to change societies can become unstable and violent which is another good reason why Australia must change.

At the same time I suggest change is necessary if Australia wants to be one of Asia’s leading countries. What would help this come about is for new parties with different philosophies to current parties become established. As for the current parties they should berth their political boats in a safe harbour so that, day after day, away from the political battlefields their old warriors can while the time away fighting the same political battles.

Now you might think that what I have said has little to do with the CPA.  On one hand no but on another hand it has everything to do with the CPA. In a sense they have become Australia’ new breed of entrepreneur; they have taken the risk of setting up offices in Asia so that they can be on hand to take advantage of the situation by benefitting themselves and Australia as trade and business expand.

What will change also is the nature of Australia’s population. Perhaps Ausasian will become the description of the population as more and more people from China, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia et al, marry Australians.

This leads to Education playing a leading role in the change. That said it seems to me that we should be encouraging teachers from all of these countries to come and teach not only in higher education centres but across the wide range of Australian schools.

Although unable to comment on the book and even though it is being provided to every Australian politician, state and federal, and to policymakers opinion and business leaders around the country and internationally it’s the kind of book that a philanthropist should consider purchasing on behalf of high schools and colleges.

Comment welcome.     

 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Power overload puts Actew Chair out of action

Recently while talking casually with Canberrans interested in good government the conversation turned to Actew and to where on the ladder of influence some Canberrans had climbed. During this conversation,  when the name John Mackay, Chairman of Actew came up in the context of recent revelations about the salary of Actew’s managing director, Mark Sullivan, someone said Mr Mackay should resign.

No doubt yesterday’s news that Mr Mackay had resigned was heard with pleasure by the person who made the suggestion. That apart, I think some of the others in the conversation might be surprised that despite Mr Sullivan’s decision to forego $140,000 in salary, he would continue as Managing Director.

During the conversation another remark made was that in some respects during Mr Mackay’s reign as Managing Director and later chairman of Actew, the corporation had acted almost like the Government’s private bank. It was said the remark was based on Actew’s sponsorship of various sporting teams, the Arboretum (a special project of the last Chief Minister) et al, while the Brumbies had benefitted from call in planning powers.

It was said these sponsorships were supporting activities the Government supported without the Government needing to provide more money.  A further comment was that as Chairman of various organisations and a paid director on the board of others with which the Government had a close association Mr Mackay had also seemed to benefit from the arrangement.

One area that also bothered some people was the closeness to the Actew Board, of political brothers in arm Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, the shareholders of Actew on behalf of the community. It was thought this closeness could pose a conflict of interest.

To avoid such a possibility a suggestion was made that shareholders’ representation should be increased to five of which two would be two non-government ACT parliamentarians and one shareholder drawn at random from the ACT’s electoral role. I do not know if the suggestion had ever been presented to the Government.

That Mr Mackay has now indicated he will also step down in December as Chancellor of The University of Canberra will be welcomed by many. I think too, that many people are waiting with interest his intentions regarding the board positions he holds in other Canberra companies and organisations.

The media has heaped paeans of praise on Mr Mackay for his great contribution to the Canberra community, a contribution that has brought him many civic rewards. On the other hand this begs the question: would his benevolence have been the same had he not been Managing Director of Actew and later its Chairman.

Regardless of the murkiness surrounding the Actew affair, the fact that it came to light should spur the Government into making sure that future appointments not only to Actew’s Board but the Boards of all Government organisations should be subject to the closest scrutiny!

Comments welcome!

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Canberra on the Beach

As I lay in bed dreaming I could see the palm trees by the lakeside beach swaying in the light Canberra wind, while children on the beach built sandcastles and dozens of Canberra bureaucrats and other overstressed workers lay on their LiLos getting suntanned (lightly of course) as they soaked up their daily dose of vitamin D in the hope of reducing their stress levels and revitalising their aching bodies and minds.

Well what’s wrong with that dream? If Canberrans can get a daily dose of Vitamin D lying on a LiLo at Lakeside Beach tourists can too. Then, alas, I woke up. But I didn’t mind; some of my past dreams came true though more often than not they became nightmares.

But the more I read about the beach the more I realized that I didn’t see any of the things I remembered from my childhood days. I couldn’t see any donkeys for children to take a ride on or a hot dog stand or an ice cream stall or bronzed life savers that teenage girls and those who imagined they were still teenage girls swooned over.

And nor was there a postcard stall perhaps because by the time the idea of the beach comes to fruition instead of a stall with naughty postcards it’s likely a new app for mobiles or whatever piece of technology is the latest must have, will be available so that friends can be sent “naughty pictures” with the message “wish you were here.”

The Lakeside Beach will also have big advantages over those lookalike beaches shown in brochure after brochure. Presumably too, the water that will lap the Lakeside beach will be fresh and so make swallowing mouthfuls of it more pleasant than swallowing mouthfuls of brine in either Biarritz -Europe’s surfing capital, or Bali.

Then the thought struck me that in case you forgot to brush your teeth you could remedy your forgetfulness by carrying toothbrush and toothpaste in your beach bag as well as suntan lotion, budgie snugglers or bikini so that you could scrub the molars with lake water.

But what excited me most about the plans for an urban beach was the idea of having a boardwalk, multi -story hotels, a casino, a forum, a convention centre and a rectangular stadium where the Raiders and Brumbies could display the talent that keeps them atop the league tables. I’d like to suggest also that a tattoo parlour be built on the boardwalk where team members or their fans could get themselves adorned. To complete the ancillary services, I think a Police Station might also be necessary.

Mind you, perhaps it’s presumptuous talking about the Raiders and Brumbies playing in the stadium? Will the Raiders and Brumbies still be in existence when the new stadium is ready or will they have moved to area where support and money is more plentiful? Like other businesses sport now goes to where the money is.

What also came to mind is a particular advantage the Lakeside beach has over the Bali and Biarritz beaches: it is unlikely it will ever be subject to a tsunami. This will be of special interest to Canberrans living near the beach or tourists temporarily resident in nearby hotels as it means they will be spared ever having to evacuate because of a tidal wave.

On the other hand if the Raiders and Brumbies are still in existence during the football season perhaps residents might experience a human tsunami of Rugby League or Rugby Union supporters. Mind you, if only to disclose my personal preferences I wouldn’t mind the occasional tsunami of Soccer (Football) supporters.

No doubt you will have noticed I have made no mention of what in the future might also be considered important tourist facilities. While brothels are still likely to be operating in Fyshwick, Mitchell and elsewhere in Canberra, consideration should be given to making provision for a male and female brothel in the beach precinct.

No doubt the perspicacious among you will notice that I‘ve made no mention of transport services. I do so in this case because Canberra is a hotbed of “planning experts” and so, on the basis that discretion is the better part of valour I left it out.

All comments welcome.

Canberra is a place where lots of people who know little about a lot eagerly join the queue of people who want to be seen as ‘elite.’ Such is their vanity that not only do they delude themselves into thinking they deserve the title they also delude themselves that they are people of influence.

Many of these people can be seen at functions attended by local politicians, bureaucrats, business people and people from the Arts who labour under a similar delusion. In an effort to dismiss any suggestion of being snobs they describe themselves as part of the common herd to avoid being seen as discriminatory.

Politicians are urged to use this phraseology by well-paid public relations advisers as protection from being seen as making a politically disastrous comment or engaging in equally disastrous conduct. I confess that in Australia’s egalitarian society I thought everyone was part of the common herd. We live and learn.

Although I can understand the politicians’ behaviour, I cannot say the same for some bureaucrats or business people. The former cannot blame anyone but themselves for being seen not as elites but toadies who hope their reward will be an upward step in the bureaucracy.

And much as I always thought the goal of business people was running a successful business. For some however, status is clearly more important. However in past times this strategy has been seen as disastrous because keeping too close to politicians makes the common herd wonder about their politics.

Another group of self-appointed elitists are to be found in Arts/Culture. These elitists are forever on the lookout for appropriate politicians and business people whom they can butter up in hope they will fund the next great Art/Culture idea that will spread across Australia and the globe.

That said, I think elitism is dying. Why? Elitism is dying because it no longer is it a title conferred on someone with special talent. Today, everyone wants to be seen as elite when more often than not they are big-heads. And if elite ever meant a person of status some so called elite have done a good job of wrecking its meaning.

Current examples of that wrecking can be seen in cycling. Reprehensible as the behaviour of Lance Armstrong and other cyclists’ has been, with major sponsors now threatening to sue him for the return of monies, I haven’t heard any of them say they will refund the monies people spent on their products because of Armstrong et al.

Nor do managers of the various football codes do it when ‘elite’ players are found morally wanting or managers’ of other elite sportsmen and women. The fact is elitism is rampant in sport although one could argue about what is sport these days.

For example I love ballroom dancing and when a young man (so long ago that I scarce remember it), I visited the local palais de danse (by the way though my mother and father were local ballroom champions I never ever heard them describe dancing as a sport), I enjoyed nothing more than taking to the floor for a quickstep, foxtrot or tango.

And what about other games that today are called sport?” Marbles, for example or billiards, snooker and darts, all of which have elite player not to mention angling or tossing the caber plus lots of other activities (now sports) in a list too long to mention.

I find it surprising that in egalitarian Australia they use the word elite so lightly. I think it’s time we coined a new one. Suggestions welcome.

Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web: donallan.wordpress.com; e: dca@netspeed.com.au



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