Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heading north

I'm driving up to Queensland tomorrow.

The plan is to spend a couple of days with my nephew and his family, who live inland from Noosa, and then drive back with two visitors from the UK. They're flying home out of Sydney on November 9 so I have a couple of weeks to show them a few places.

We'll take it easy on the drive south and I'll probably take them into places like the Gold Coast, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Port Macquarie and I thought maybe Hawks Nest/Teagardens too. We'll just find a motel or hotel when we're ready to stop.

We have friends up in Bellingen, near Coffs, so I'll give them a call when we're in that area and if they're home we'll stop by for an hour or so.

A couple of days in Sydney is part of the plan plus obviously the attractions here on the Central Coast.

It'll be at least a week before I'm back on the computer I should think.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Laughing bird

Before we moved to Dubai I attracted kookaburras as regular visitors by giving them a couple of bits of free food each day...not enough to make them dependent on the handouts, I hasten to add.

I've picked up where I left off and I'm happy that a parent and a young kookaburra have started visiting every so often. Here's one of them this morning:

Monday, October 10, 2011

The latest Qantas fiasco

I've been listening on the radio to interviews with representatives of Qantas and the unions.

The latest selfish nonsense is that the planned strike has been called off at the last minute, after flights were cancelled or rescheduled, stuffing the plans of nearly fifty thousand travellers.

The PR machines for both sides are at full rev and both sides are taking out large advertisements blaming the other for the problems.

It's been a downward spiral for a long time for Qantas and I can't see it getting better any time soon.

It's not just the strike problems but the ongoing bad press of all too frequent accidents and incidents - exploding oxygen bottles, the near fatal A380 engine blowout, the 747 from Dallas Fort Worth having to divert to Numea because fuel was low.

If either side really cared about the public whose support they're trying to attract they'd do what the public wants. Stop the stupidity, stop damaging one of our major brands, stop inconveniencing travellers and get it sorted out.

The talk is all about an Aussie icon, yet it's a privatised company beholden to its shareholders. If we wanted to keep it as Australia's airline we should have kept it in public ownership - albiet run on a strictly commercial basis.

For years, union restrictions and high salaries relative to competitors have been a major problem.

But also for years, management has been a major problem too. Refusing to fly to places they should be flying to. Taking sections of the operation offshore. Bad aircraft purchasing decisions. Blaming competitors for the problems the company brought on itself.

I was never impressed with Geoff Dixon, the previous CEO, in my opinion far too political, far too aggressive and an average performer at best. His successor Alan Joyce is if anything even more aggressive.

High salaries and benefits are not just the province of the union side by the way. Reflecting the situation that's causing so much fury around the world, Qantas executives and directors are paying themselves vast sums from a company which, according to their own statements, is not doing well.

Have a look at the Crikey link at the end of this post, reporting Geoff Dixon being the highest paid airline executive in the world. I've also given a link to a media report of Alan Joyce's five million dollar plus annual salary

From what both people said on radio it's a standoff. They both insist they're right and neither side seems prepared to sit down and talk sensibly.

The radio report talked about the international arm of Qantas being under pressure from Middle East airlines, because they're government owned, have tax and salary advantages not enjoyed by Qantas.

That public/private ownership thing again.  If it's an advantage for Middle East airlines to be government owned, why does the same not apply to Qantas?

That's only part of the picture though.

The simple reality is that airlines like Emirates are so much better than Qantas.

I use Emirates whenever I can. New aircraft, great inflight service. The best inflight entertainment system of all, important on long-haul flights. Baggage allowance for economy class is thirty kilos.

Qantas gives us an old fleet, sloppy to bad inflight sevice, poor entertainment, twenty kilos for baggage.

And they don't/won't fly to the Middle East's most popular destination, Dubai.

Crikey's report on Geoff Dixon's millions.

Current executive salaries

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Doing the obvious at last.

Something I've been going on about for years is harvesting and recycling water instead of pumping it out to sea.

That's how we waste trillions of litres of water, even though we're the driest inhabited continent, we have regular and long droughts and we run our rivers dry through crop irrigation.

Now, at last, there seems to be a small step in the right direction.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald: "The City of Sydney council is finalising plans for a recycled water network to be established throughout much of the Sydney."

It's been a long time coming.

The vast majority of the water we use is not for drinking but for commercial uses. Council's chief development officer for energy and climate change, Allan Jones, says that no more than 20% of the city's water needs to be of drinkable quality.

The SMH report is here

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Typical long weekend

It's a long weekend so naturally it's wet, cold and windy.

We went into summertime this morning too, the clocks went forward an hour and the temperature managed to get to a high - if that's the right word - of 16C.

With the wind and rain it felt a lot less and the town is full of miserable looking tourists trudging around wondering why they didn't stay in bed all day.