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Monthly Archives: October 2018

How Queensland compares politically to the rest of Australia

Written on October 20, 2018 at 12:17, by

Prudent Traditionalists are the most common of seven personas identified in Australia, and are the most common persona type in Queensland. Photo: Matt DavidsonQueenslanders are most likely to be prudent traditionalists but also highly likely to be disillusioned pessimists, according to a new survey.
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The Political Persona Project, a joint project between Fairfax Media, the ANU’s Social Research Centre and digital information analysts Kieskompas, conducted the research and analysis in an aim to ditch the simplistic left/right political distinctions.

After surveying 2600 Australians from all walks of life, weighing and analysing the data, seven political tribes were identified.

Compared with national numbers, Queensland is generally not too far off the national average.

The largest percentage of Queenslanders (31.3 per cent) fall into the prudent traditionalist category, which is also the largest national tribe.

However, compared with the national percentages Queensland has a lower proportion of progressive cosmopolitans, a far lower proportion of activist egalitarians, and a higher proportions of lavish mod-cons, disillusioned pessimists and anti-establishment firebrands.

In fact, Queensland has the second-largest proportion of anti-establishment firebrands in the nation, at 7.6 per cent. A group of voters who are disenchanted with the established political system, sceptical of immigration and most likely to vote for a minor party, this group fits with the second coming of One Nation and the election of Clive Palmer.  Another group with a high proportion of Queenslanders is the disillusioned pessimists.

This group worries about the future and the way society is going, and they’re also wary about an influx of immigrants and the loss of manufacturing jobs in Australia.

These disillusioned pessimists are more likely to live outside capital cities and, like the anti-establishment firebrands, many of them vote for minor parties.

With the second-smallest proportion at 8.5 per cent, lavish mod-cons (moderate conservatives) still make up a larger portion of  people in Queensland than they do in any other state.

The Lavish Mod-Con, or Moderate Conservative, makes up 8.5 per cent of Queenslanders.

People in this category are proud to be Australian but aren’t very politically engaged; they are generally more focused on their career, looking good, and enjoying life’s luxuries.

Lavish mod-cons tend to earn higher incomes but are less likely to have university degrees, and are four times more likely to vote Liberal than Green.

While few people would be an exact match for one tribe, the test shows you how much you agree with each grouping.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Queensland Rail Strachan inquiry: What went wrong, who is to blame and what’s next

Written on October 20, 2018 at 12:16, by

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Commissioner Phillip Strachan have unveiled the report into Queensland Rail and its recommendations. Photo: Pool image Stirling Hinchliffe has resigned from his cabinet position over the Queensland Rail chaos. Photo: Supplied
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Brisbane commuters will be bracing for more timetable trouble, with the latest iteration of the Queensland Rail’s schedule set to be reviewed.

Commissioner Phillip Strachan, and now Queensland Rail chair, handed down his report into the beleaguered operator on Monday, setting out 36 recommendations.

Among those was a call for QR to assess the sustainability of service levels under the current train timetable to allow at a minimum the provision of stable services and enough training capacity to allow the return to more services in the long-term.

Mr Strachan said he recommended QR have a “very serious look” at the latest train timetable, in place from January 23, to make sure it was robust.

“I’m not recommending any cut of services yet, but the recommendation is to have a strong look at the timetable to make sure it is going to deliver the services going forward,” Mr Strachan said.

In January, QR acting chief executive officer Neil Scales promised the timetable would be in place for the remainder of 2017.

The report also suggests QR only expected to recover full timetable services by late 2018 “which is not likely to meet public expectations”.

But what actually went wrong at QR, who was to blame and what happens next? What went wrong?

Mr Strachan said the problems did not stem from one issue, but compounding issues that “accumulated over time”.

While demand for train crew grew significantly, supply of qualified drivers declined, limitations meant the growing gap between supply and demand was not widely appreciated, and QR’s unclear governance arrangements made it difficult for the chief executive officer to maintain oversight.

A train driver shortage became apparent to the public following the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line in October 2016, with hundreds of services cancelled in the following months.

But QR realised it might not have enough crew for the new line in mid-2015, beginning internal recruitment of 100 drivers and 100 guards.

The driver shortage was caused by several issues, including a QR preference to operate with a 5-10 per cent undersupply of train crew and a consequent over-reliance on overtime – which boosted pay packets.

In the months leading up to the new timetable in October, QR staff worked unsustainable levels of overtime.

There were restrictions on external recruitment, and a 12-month halt of driver training from February 2014, and then training took about 18 months on average – twice as long as it should – with small class sizes.

“Increasing demand and decreasing supply opened up a gap of around 100 drivers at the end of last year, a shortfall,” Mr Strachan said.

“That gap has been traditionally closed by the use of overtime but in the end of October that lever of overtime became exhausted and could no longer close that gap.”

Photo: Robert ShakespeareWho was to blame?

Mr Strachan said he did not think people deliberately hid the truth, but there was an unwillingness to share “bad news”.

“There were people down deep in the organisation that were having some concerns about some shortfall issues as far back as 2015 but there wasn’t a clear communication upwards into middle management and senior management to the CEO, to the board or to the responsible ministers,” he said.

“I don’t think there was any deliberate attempt to hide information – we touched on some cultural issues within the organisation, perhaps not always being willing to share some bad news or share issues.

“I’d like to see that culture change going forward.”

Mr Strachan pointed to accountability issues and communication failures.

He said the senior manager for train service delivery was focused on 58 hours ahead, but did not take action in the medium to longer term.

Mr Strachan said the general manager Citytrain was inexperienced and saw issues but did not have the confidence to raise them at the right time.

After pointing out other issues at senior levels, Mr Strachan said the chief operating officer did not raise issues or challenge assumptions.

Mr Strachan said chief executive officer Helen Gluer sought some assurances but was relying heavily on her chief operating officer, and did not challenge what she received.

He said the board was being briefed by the executive, which was not aware of the emerging issue, so the board was not being properly informed, and in turn did not advise ministers until October 2016.

Mr Strachan recommended QR confirm the senior manager for train service delivery should be accountable for managing supply, demand and responses to projected train crew shortfalls for at least a rolling eight-week forecast period.

Despite both sides of Parliament levelling the blame at each other in recent months, Mr Strachan said neither the present Labor government or previous LNP government were at fault.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Strachan had uncovered issues that lay dormant for years. Who has lost their job?

Stirling Hinchliffe is the latest to lose his job over the saga, stepping down as transport and Commonwealth Games minister.

He follows chief executive officer Helen Gluer, chairman Michael Klug and chief operating officer Kevin Wright, who all resigned, with the head of train service delivery being stood down.

And there are more job losses to come.

Mr Strachan has recommended eight layers of management become five layers and the role of chief operating officer be scrapped.

The Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet has also referred the report to the Public Service Commissioner.

The Commissioner has been asked to consider whether the conduct of any Queensland government employees referred to in the report should be the subject of a disciplinary process under the Public Service Act 2008. What were the other recommendations?

QR should develop a five-year rolling monthly forecast of demand and supply for train crew, a shake-up of managers’ roles and discuss rules around working time, meal breaks and rostering processes with unions.

QR should maintain a surplus of train crew to make sure operations can be conducted without the systemic reliance on overtime and tutors and inspectors having to take on operational roles.

Recruitment should be opened externally and to people with no experience, with an ongoing recruitment.

Training should also be sped up to nine months or less, with the curriculum overhauled.

Staff should be encouraged to proactively escalate potential issues to senior management, and communication to government overhauled.

The ratio of supervisors to train crew should also be increased significantly to improve the relationship and information flow between management and train crew.

Reporting to TransLink and the public should also be improved, so people can plan alternative travel arrangements when issues arise, with information to be available in real time at stations, online and through the call centre.

Photo: Glenn HuntWhat happens next?

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has committed to all 36 recommendations.

This includes establishing a new Citytrain Response Unit, for an initial period of 12 months, to act as a watchdog for QR, ensuring it stays on track.

But do not expect a quick fix as Mr Strachan said it would take two years for some of the 36 recommendations to take effect.

Ms Palaszczuk said it was important to open up QR driver positions to external recruitment as soon as possible.

“It should take around nine months to train a driver, especially if we look at the learning of the driving on sectors of the railway network,” she said.

QR expects it will have sufficient train crew to deliver the full timetabled services by late 2018, assuming 10 per cent overtime, or mid to late 2019, assuming no overtime.

The report states: “It is the Commission’s view that Queensland Rail has made limited progress in this regard since October 2016.”

Until there is enough crew to deliver the full timetable, QR will continue to operate with reduced services and high levels of overtime, the report reads.

Ms Palaszczuk has also pledged her government would work with the union.

Mr Strachan will meet shortlisted candidates for the position for chief executive officer on Friday.

QR has also been directed to provide a high-level response plan within 30 days.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls has asked for a comprehensive briefing with Mr Strachan on Tuesday.

“Following that, I will outline the LNP’s full response to the issues raised in regards to Queensland Rail,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Qld Rail debacle: Palaszczuk’s 2015 mega-ministry decision ‘a mistake’, says commentator

Written on October 20, 2018 at 12:16, by

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government started with 14 mega-portfolios, in contrast with the previous LNP government. Photo: Lisa Maree WilliamsPremier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to establish government with 14 mega-portfolios – the initial cabinet of the former Newman government had 19 ministers – was a mistake, political commentator Dr Paul Williams said.
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As a result, responsibility for Queensland Rail was just half of one of five portfolios administered by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

“It was a bad idea and I said so at the time,” Dr Williams said on Monday.

“I mean having 14 in the cabinet would have been difficult for an experienced government, but given you had so many new faces in the Parliament and in the cabinet –  learning new portfolios, learning new body politics, trying to meet with pressure groups – it was almost impossible.”

Ms Trad was minister for transport, trade, infrastructure, local government and planning from February 2015 until Ms Palaszczuk enlarged her Cabinet on December 5, 2015.

From then Stirling Hinchliffe – Labor’s Leader of the House – became transport minister and minister for the Commonwealth Games, sharing Queensland Rail with Treasurer Curtis Pitt.

Mr Hinchliffe resigned as transport minister on Monday after former Rio Tinto executive Phillip Strachan released his report into train crewing practices at Queensland Rail, with long-running issues exacerbating as QR struggled to find enough drivers for the Moreton Bay Rail Link, now known as the the Redcliffe Peninsula Line.

The actual Moreton Bay Rail Link contract – to build the rail line from Petrie to Kippa Ring – was signed around August 21, 2012, under the LNP.

Queensland Rail was not involved in the beginning of this project in 2012, according to then-transport minister Scott Emerson.

“Previously the delivery of the project was split between the Department of Transport and Main Roads and Queensland Rail,” Mr Emerson said in a media statement on July 11, 2012.

The rail project was subsequently administered by the Department of Transport and Main Roads for the first time.

“By bringing the project under one agency, I am looking for more innovation and savings for the funding partners and the people of Queensland,” Mr Emerson said at the time.

The Petrie-to-Kippa Ring rail project halted before it opened in May 2016 because of a serious train signalling issue, where the train signalling system “did not speak” to signalling software on the rest of the Citytrain network.

An inquiry into the signalling problems on the line, to be handled by Rob Smith from the Sydney Metro Rail Project, was announced in June 2016, but no findings have been made public.

Several months passed before the driver shortage was made public, prompting another inquiry that led to the Strachan report.

Dr Williams said the mega-ministeries were not directly linked to the Queensland Rail debacles.

“Not as such, however certainly (Ms) Palaszczuk could well have taken the Commonwealth Games from (Mr) Hinchliffe,” he said.

“However, if there were 19 members in Cabinet then the relationship between Hinchliffe and QR would have been the same,” he said.

“And the slow-moving wheel of decision-making would have moved at the same rate.”

Dr Williams said he believed the problems within QR were linked more to it being a government-owned statutory authority, with “a changing status, a changing relationship with the minister, and an at-arms-length relationship with the minister”.

He said changes to the shifting status of QR – including privatisation of rail freight (Labor, 2009), criticism of its bureaucracy (LNP, 2012) and transition back to Citytrain (Labor, 2015) had impacted the service.

Dr Williams said he did not believe QR’s travails were intractable for Labor.

“I wouldn’t put it on quite the same scale as Queensland Health in the mid 2000s,” he said.

“Although it is very unhelpful that it is happening right in Brisbane where Labor needs to maintain a majority.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Do you remember when … February 1994

Written on October 20, 2018 at 12:16, by

Do you remember when … February 1994 Western Advocate | February 1994
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Letters to the editor

Written on October 20, 2018 at 12:16, by

PROUD MOMENT: Wangaratta export Darcy Vescio after Friday night’s inaugural AFL women’s league match, which drew a crowd of more than 24,000.Get out there girlsFriday night at Ikon Park was certainly a night to remember.
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I was privileged to have been one of the 24,000-strong crowd that got to witnesshistory at the inaugural AFL women’s league game.

We all had high hopes for the first game’s success, but everyone was blown away by the biggest crowd for a women’s sporting event in Australian history.

While I feel for the thousands of fans who couldn’t get in, this was an overwhelming vote of support from Victorians.

CEO Gillon McLachlan deserves credit for personally explaining to the crowd that safety had to come first, and demonstrates the AFL’s commitment to the new women’s game.

Friday night was just the start, with three other fantastic games played over the weekend.

I’ve seen that 10,100 fans watched Bulldogs v Freemantle, 9250 saw Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney and 6500 cheered on Melbourne v Brisbane.

A total of more than a million people tuned in to watch the four games on television.

The support was so strong that there is already talk of moving the 2017 AFL Women’s grand final to the MCG.

What an amazing achievement for everyone that would be, for all the men and women who have worked so hard to get this league off the ground.

We want to get tens of thousands of Victorian women and girls more active.

Our research shows that three-quarters of Victorians (73 per cent) agree that female sport role models motivate women and girls to get physically active.

If we want to raise strong, empowered, independent girls, then we need more female role models in the public eye. So, don’t just be a spectator – get out there and get moving.

Jerril Rechter,CEO, VicHealthDon’t quash passionI was under the impression that the education system today was to nurturea child’s ability and talents but it appears that I am totally incorrect.

My grandson attends the Felltimber Middle School in Wodonga. He has loads of natural talent in art and has been drawing continually since he was a young boy.

But when he requested to be placed into art classes, he was told that it didn’t matter what he wanted. Woodwork is low in numbers so he is going into these classes.

Talk about quashing a child’s passion, he was distraught when he came home from school.

To keep our children in school we need to foster their skills and talents and shoving him into woodworking classes because it is low in numbers is not on.

Trish Carter, WodongaNo point in privateI am such an idiot to pay private health insurance (on a pension) when all I need to do is write to the Ministers, get a picture on the front page of The Border Mail and, “presto”,my sore toe will be taken care of.

Time to get out of private health insurance? Don’t forget they will be wanting another 6 per cent fee increase and I bet the Minister won’t say no.

Judy McGrath, ThurgoonaFour months, still waitingCan someone have a whisper in the ARTC’s ear about the mud hole on the west track at the Racecourse Road crossing in Chiltern. I rang them four months ago and still nothing.

The continual banging of wagons is very annoying.

Also, why does the V/Line passenger train blast its horn so as to wake the town? Is it really necessary to sound the horn five times in a three-kilometrestretch?

Where’s the EPA?It would have to be the nosiest train in Australia, we hardly hear the XPT when it passes.

Chris Breen, ChilternThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.