Friday 23 August 2013

How much is public service maternity leave costing us right now?

We now know that the public service gets very generous maternity leave arrangements. What we haven’t done though is look at the potential cost on a department by department basis. There's a big problem though - I can't find any hard numbers on how much individual departments are currently spending on maternity leave arrangements.

Consider the parental leave arrangements for state school teachers in WA - it's 14 weeks paid leave, and you are eligible after being employed after 12 months. According to this CPSU article, 18 weeks seems to be fairly common across swathes of the public sector.

One major criticism of Abbott's scheme is that it will involve paying out lots of money to high income earners. Well, let's have a look at a public sector department with a lot of high income earners and think about how much the public sector scheme is costing us right now.

Take the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

According to the last annual report, the department had:

  • 602 staff (although this number seems very rubbery)
  • 60.8% were female
  • 77.2% were under 45

In short, the PM&C seems to be chockful of breeders.

Pay bands:

  • 64 SES staff paid – $139,000 – $388,498 (although the top staff seemed to take home a lot more than this)
  • EL2 107 staff – $112,340 – $141,591
  • EL1 173 staff – $96,518 – $117,647
  • APS 4-6 – 227 staff – $59,119 – $92,456

Total employee expenses – $109.6 million

Average employee expense based on 602 staff – $182,059 per employee

So let’s recap.

We have a department full of women at peak breeding age. They are very highly paid – the average salary puts them in the top 1% of earners in this country. They are entitled to possibly the most generous maternity leave arrangements in the country as they stand today. 

And somehow the Lib’s policy is gold plated for rich people?


Wednesday 21 August 2013

Oh, my freezing gonads

What the hell happened to the warm weather we were having until recently? It had reached the point where I was riding home as if it was summer - no vest, no arm warmers and no leg warmers. And then this bloody cold snap hit. I had to drag out the undershirts this morning - it was wear three layers or die. I rode home last night wearing everything, and I was still cold even after tackling the hills. I rode with some poor buggers who had no limb warmers - they appeared to be turning blue no matter how hard they hit the cranks.

I was amazed when I got into a hot shower this morning and found that I didn't really have an icicle hanging from the end of the old fella. It certainly felt that way.

Tanya's minions

Tanya Plibersek had her minions out the other day, canvasing drunks outside the Pyrmont Hotel.

Labor's slogans are really starting to shit me. Tanya's is "Speaks for us". Our local King of Stroganof, John Murphy, uses "On our side". Who is "us"? Who is "our"? She should get real and change it to "I love junkies".

Once more, note the tiny little "Labor" logo in the bottom right hand corner. You really have to look for it.

There goes the monorail

The monorail closed down about a month ago. Last Friday, this sign advertising the impending demolition appeared.

On Monday, the trucks and cranes duly appeared and bits of monorail started disappearing.

And how do you get rid of a monorail? Easy - just bring a big crane or two and a gas axe.

Monday 19 August 2013

Never heard of "floor it"

By Friday, I'm usually knackered and the ride home is slower than normal. However, that was not the case last week - I felt better by the end of the week than at the start, so I was belting it as I left work and headed out of town.

There's a long, straight, flat stretch of road that I ride along after exiting The Rocks. On a good day, due to the placement of a couple of speed bumps, I can outpace the cars for most of its length. On Friday, I was on fire and well and truly out in front.

This road has lots of car parking along both sides, and on Friday afternoons, people are in a rush to leave, so I was not super surprised when an MX-5 pulled out of a car park in front of me. The driver looked at me, saw me, and then started off.

Now I know that the MX-5 is a sports car, and it is capable of pretty sporty performance. I've got friends who have drooled over them for years. The only problem here was that the driver was not very sporty - or not in a sporty mood that day. She pulled out just fast enough to get in my way, but not fast enough to then get out of my way. In fact, she accelerated that thing like a busted slug. If she'd floored it and taken off like an MX-5 is designed to do, I wouldn't have had any headaches.

The problem with these moments is the lack of drama. If I'd been in my 4WD, you would have heard the screaming tyres a mile away as I slammed on the brakes, and then a good dose of horn to top it off. With a bike, you're braking so hard you can't even raise a fist to shake it. The most you might hear is a loud, "You fucking moron" being bellowed at the back of the car.

Anyway, she took off that slowly that after braking hard to avoid her, I managed to zip around, get in front and take off.

I would have left it at that except for what happened up the road. The road splits into two lanes, and I of course was in the left hand lane. As we approached a set of red lights, she decided she wanted to be in that lane too, so she roared past me and then hoiked it to the left - without indicating - at the last possible moment. She made things even more annoying by braking as she muscled into my lane. That was case 2 of truly shit driving.

I've been taught to never hit a woman, but by crikey, I was sorely tempted to drop the bike, walk around to her door and deck her. I've never had two close calls with the same car in under 2 minutes.

In my younger days, I would have dismissed this with "Bloody women drivers". That is, women can't drive. That's clearly wrong - she could drive a car, and I've nearly run into plenty of totally crap drivers of both sexes, all ages and most nationalities to know that it's silly to single out women. She could drive -what she totally lacked was judgement and empathy. What she didn't lack was big boofy blonde hair.

Friday 16 August 2013

Don't believe everything that gets stuffed into your letterbox

We got an election pamphlet from John Murphy recently. A big chunk of it tells the story of a local woman who had cancer, was treated with a drug called Herceptin and obviously lived to tell the tale.

What this pamphlet doesn't tell you is that Herceptin was put onto the PBS when Tony Abbott was Minister for Health. How's that for misogyny - approving a very expensive drug that only benefits women.

It's a neatly designed little pamphlet - very professional - but I had to look hard to find out which party John Murphy is a member of. There's a very small logo on the back - in the last place most people will bother to look.

The pamphlet states that Barbara Bailey is a teacher. I hope she isn't the one that teaches at Summer Hill.

Thursday 15 August 2013


The rich driver differently.

I disagree. Unless of course tradesmen, couriers and taxi drivers are the new rich. Most of the problems I have on the road come from tradesmen in utes, couriers in vans and taxi drivers in bloody Ford Falcons. I have the occasional problem with a knobhead in a BMW or Mercedes, but they are pretty few and far between.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Idiots without spares

It wasn't hard to spot the broken down ute on Victoria Road - there was a Police motorbike parked behind it with lights flashing. I couldn't work out why they had decided to stop there, just before the entry to the Anzac Bridge.

I found out when I drew level with the ute - the back left hand tyre was completely flat. Either the bloke had been driving along with a flat tyre without noticing it and the cop had pulled him over, or the driver had pulled over and the cop came along to investigate.

What amazed me though was the driver was just standing on the footpath doing nothing. He'd pulled over into a bus bay, so he was in a safe enough spot to change the tyre. Instead of jacking the car up and getting on with it, he was just looking sheepish. Unless the cop had told him to do nothing and wait for a tow truck to get him out of the way. I hate to think he was stupid enough to be driving around without a spare, jack and tools.

I've seen plenty of cars being driven with a flat tyre - do the drivers have no brains at all? Don't they notice that they're driving on a rim?

Sunday 11 August 2013

The hard slog of fact checking the Greens

The electorate of Grayndler is not far from me - I ride through a chunk of it every day. The Greens are running a bloke called Hall Greenland against Labor's Anthony Albanese. I'm no fan of Albo - I think he is a horrible little slimebag. However, that doesn't give the Greens license to tell porkies.

Take this article on Hall's website. On my first read of it, I've already spotted three errors. Sorry, make that 4.

Error 1

he’s responsible for the government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation that is now spending $4.7 billion of public money to upgrade the Hunter Valley freight lines to facilitate the doubling of the coal exports through Newcastle.
Wrong. The ARTC is not spending $4.7 billion dollars. The entire value of its rail assets totals $4.7 billion.

The ARTC has published a number of strategy papers on expanding capacity in the Hunter Valley. They released a series of draft papers and then a final paper on 29 June. Earlier drafts of the strategy listed $3.5 billion worth of upgrades over the next 10 years.

The final strategy divides investments into contracted volume and prospective volume. That is, the first investments are required based on the tonnages they have written contracts to cover, and prospective is what they might build if more contracts come along.

The estimated costs to cover the contracted volume investments is $711 million. Not $4.7 billion.

The estimated costs to cover the prospective volumes total $1708 million. If all the new coal mines and mine expansions go ahead, ARTC will invest $2.4 billion over the next 10 years. Not $4.7 billion.

My take - the Greens have no head for numbers.

Error 2

 spending $4.7 billion of public money
It's not public money, allocated from the budget and raised from taxpayers. The coal mines pay to run coal trains over the tracks, and the fees the mines pay for access funds the investment. The miners are paying for the upgrades, not the general public.

Error 3

As Bill McKibben pointed out, there are some days in summer in Germany – which is significantly further from the equator than Australia – when half the power generated comes from solar.
German solar output hit a new record recently when solar generated 40% of demand on Sunday 7 July. However, as this article points out, Germans don't work on Sunday, so offices and shops are closed, so it is not a day for high electricity demand. Sunday demand is 20% lower than a weekday. Furthermore, solar covered only 20% of the demand for the entire day. The 40% figure was peak output, which didn't last very long. Bill needs to explain where he got his "half the power generated from solar" statistics come from.

It costs German power consumers $18 billion per year to support the solar and wind industry - ie, $18 billion worth of high power bills.

And it has to be remembered that July 7 is the middle of summer for the Germans.

The Germans are getting rid of subsidies by 2018 by the way.

Berlin "has so far invested 216 billion euros ($A308.24 billion) in renewables and the biggest chunk went to solar, the technology which does least to ensure the power supply," said the head of industrial group Siemens, Peter Loescher, in an interview published in the business daily Handelsblatt on Monday.

Germany has seen a wave of solar company insolvencies and the number of people employed in the industry fell to 87,000 in 2012 from 110,900 a year earlier, while sales plummeted by 11.9 billion euros, according to government figures.

Funny number, number 1

Clearly that $4.7billion subsidy to coal expansion could be much better spent on catching up with Germany.

Size of German economy - $3.5 trillion.

Size of Australian economy - $1.3 trillion.

That makes the German economy 2.7 times larger than ours. If our government was to waste the same proportional amount on solar and wind as the krauts, it would total $114 billion. $4.7 billion wouldn't allow us to catch up very much at all.

Error number 4

Clearly that $4.7billion subsidy to coal expansion
As I pointed out before, the coal miners are paying for the investment. It is not a "subsidy". If you spend $100,000 of your own money renovating your house, you are not getting a "subsidy" from anyone, especially the government. You are spending your own cash. Just because the money is channeled via the ARTC doesn't make it a subsidy.

Bugger me, I could be here all day analysing these morons. One thing this shows is that we clearly have a problem with our education system if we're turning out such innumerate busybodies.

Brown trousers time

Friday night is a bloody awful time to be riding in the city - which is why I always try to get away by about 1645hrs. That's just early enough to avoid the 1700 madness that erupts at the end of every week.

I managed to do that this week - although I was a tiny bit late, so I was hammering it down George St in order to be well clear of town before the full moon type fever took over the minds of most of the drivers in the CBD.

There's a swish hotel at the bottom of George St - it used to be called the Regent. No idea what it's called these days. It has a semi-circular drive way to allow guests to be picked up and dropped off away from the street. As there is a taxi zone right next door, it's a nightmare at any hour of the day - taxi drivers having no regard for cyclists at all.

The lights were green, so I was going for it. And then the usual thing happened - a hire car driver coming in the opposite direction spotted what he thought was a break in the traffic and decided to turn into the hotel driveway across my line of travel. Unfortunately, I was in that break. Either he saw me coming (with my brights lights and flouro vest) and decided it was just too bad for me, or he was blind as a bat. Didn't matter - I was hauling on the anchors pretty hard to avoid going into the side of his car.

One thing going for him was that he was moving fast - so long as he kept going fast into the driveway, I'd be able to go around the back of him without any worries.

Except neither of us had thought about the gutter at the edge of the driveway. His front spoiler slammed into it at speed with a horrible crunch, and he came to an abrupt stop with his car blocking 1 1/2 lanes. I now had no hope of easily getting around him.

Yes, it was brown trousers time.

Thankfully, he only stopped briefly and then started moving again - and it wasn't wet. The combination of spotting him early, braking hard and him getting partly out of my way was just enough to avoid a bike meets cars incident.

I thought about riding into the driveway and giving him a piece of my mind, but there were two things that convinced me to keep cool and keep going. For starters, I didn't wanted to get out of town before I ran into another meat head. The second was that he was driving a Ford, and there is no hope for those types.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Sod's Law

Put arm warmers and jacket on last night. Got too hot, took it off after a few minutes.

Went out in jersey tonight - no arm warmers or jacket. It started raining.

Close call

Had a close call with a moron tonight. He overtook me at high speed and then threw a very hard left turn just in front of me - I had to brake to avoid going into his side door. His tyres were squealing pretty loudly as he went around the corner.

Typical - his number plate started with "CAV".