Month: February 2019


From APS white elephant to elephant in the room

13/02/2019

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A white elephant was the elephant in the room when Finance Department secretary Rosemary Huxtable told public servants on Tuesday how the government has changed tack centralising back-end work in shared services hubs.
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The chief of the department leading the project to roll “backroom functions” into six “corporate services hubs” addressed the failures that hurt attempts by others to establish and move staff to shared services.

Referring to troubled efforts from other governments to make similar reforms as an “elephant in the room”, she said the Coalition’s push to roll corporate services into separate hubs involved risks.

Finance Department boss Rosemary Huxtable told public servants the government will move back-end work into six “corporate hubs” in stages.

However it would be necessary for agencies to make savings, be more effective and focus resources on other work.

“While they may not make the headlines, there are success stories,” she said, referring to the NSW and ACT governments’ use of shared services.

Also looming over her address to public servants and consultants, but not directly referred to, was the Coalition government’s abandonment this year of the Abbott-era “Shared Services Centre” white elephant after sinking more than $210 million into the failed project.

Hundreds of public servants working at the centre were quietly sent back to their departments or moved to the Finance Department, and the centre’s functions taken over the Employment and Education departments.

But the federal government still insists shared services can deliver big savings and is now pinning its hopes on the six “corporate service hubs” with an ambitious agenda to cover more than 140,000 public servants within four years.

Of 90 agencies marked to give back-end work to hubs, 17 employing 62,000 public servants have made the move and 13 covering another 3,000 staff have not chosen a hub or deferred the change.

Sixty agencies employing 59,000 staff are waiting to begin the transition.

Ms Huxtable said the government would play a “long-term game” in the program, learning from the mistakes of others who tried to move payroll and other services into hubs but rushed the transition after heeding overly optimistic businesses cases.

“We’ve learned through the experience of others to take a staged and gradual approach,” Ms Huxtable said.

She said insufficient upfront investment had harmed previous attempts by organisations to use shared services.

Cricket: Jason Sangha makes career-best score with Sydney first grade team Randwick-Petersham

13/02/2019

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JASONSangha will sit down for his first HSC examon Monday after posting a career-best score of 162 not out.
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Sangha, who turned 18 last month, produced the match-winning knock for Sydney first grade sideRandwick-Petersham and according to Cricket NSW records no younger person has scored more runs when making a debut century in the state capital’s top tier.

FORM: Randwick-Petersham’s Jason Sangha on his way to a career-best 162. Picture: Cricket NSW media

His previous highest total in that competition was 60 midway through last season.

Twice prior the former Wallsend batsman had reached 138 in Newcastle under-15 and under-16 representative fixtures.

But thislatesteffort surpassed all of thoseand Sangharated theunbeaten 235-ball milestone, which sawRandwick chase down Mosman’s 343 at Petersham Oval inSaturday’s second innings,alongside the rookietonhe madefor in an under-19one-day match against Pakistan in Dubai in January, 2016.

“It’s definitely up there,”Sangha told the Newcastle Herald.

“That one and and my hundred with the under 19s in Dubai are probably two of the main ones.

“But this one really means a lot. I first started playing cricket for Randwick juniorsand made some really close friendships and a lot of other relationships off the field.

“The club has done a lot for me growing as a cricketer andaperson, similar to what Wallsend did when I was really young, and now Randwick has taken over that role again.

“It was my first score over 150 and there was some other history there as well, but it was more so the win and getting over the line that meant that little bit extra.”

Twelve months ago Sangharelocated from Newcastle to Sydney, where he was born, to take up full-time contract commitments with the NSW Blues andcontinue studies at Waverley College.

The former Hunter Sports High School student has English, Mathematics, Business, Physics and Legal Studies on his agenda during the next three weeks.

“I’ll be a lot more stress free when it’s over,” Sangha said.“It’s been tough trying to study and train as much as I can, but it has helped take my mind off cricket a bit as well.”

The main goalfor Sangha thissummer isperforming at the under-19 national championships in Tasmania in December to make then squad for the World Cup in New Zealand in January. He said aSheffield Shield debut would be an added bonus.

“I’ve just got to keep doing my best at grade cricket and if I get those higher honours I need to take them with both hands,” he said.

Sangha lines up for the Sydney Thunder in a T20academy trial against the Sydney Sixers at Rouse Hill on Wednesday before returning his focus to Randwick, who next play Fairfield-Liverpool, and Year 12 tests.

At least 15 dead, thousands evacuated in California battles devastating bushfires

13/02/2019

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Los Angeles: California is battling bushfires on at least two major fronts, including a devastating fire in the north of the state that has killed at least 15 people and forced up to 20,000 to evacuate their homes.
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As firefighters battled on the northern front, a second fire swept through the Anaheim Hills, east of Los Angeles, coming within just 24 kilometres of the iconic Disneyland theme park and turning the sky above it a disquieting shade of dark orange.

In northern California there are fires raging in approximately 15 locations spread across eight counties, including Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, the heart of the state’s billion-dollar wine industry.

The deputy director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Jane Upton, told US media the fires had already burnt almost 46,000 hectares and consumed up to 1500 buildings, including homes and businesses.

More than 100 people have been treated in area hospitals with fire-related injuries or health issues, including burns and smoke inhalation.

One scene of particular devastation is the city of Santa Rosa, about 80 kilometres north of San Francisco, where whole neighbourhoods have been incinerated.

“I am lucky, my house is fine, my family is fine, my city is not,” Santa Rosa’s mayor Chris Coursey told media.

The northern California fires have been fanned by unexpectedly fast winds and a lack of humidity, California Governor Jerry Brown said.

“The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse,” Mr Brown said. “It’s not under control by any means.”

The fire front east of Los Angeles was sparked only on Monday but spread quickly, fanned by the city’s famed Santa Ana winds, which come in October each year.

The fire expanded from about 10 hectares to about 2000 hectares within hours; it has since spread to more than 20 times that area.

The Santa Anas are strong down-slope winds that blow through California’s mountain passes towards the coastline; they are warm, dry winds known for severely exacerbating forest fires.

Local news services are reporting that a number of homes are burning and that mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for the Anaheim Hills area.

One media report said seven homes had been destroyed and quoted a local resident saying he had “never seen anything like this” despite living in the area for 21 years.

Airborne ash and smoky conditions forced the closure of at least two major freeways in the vicinity of Anaheim: the State Route 241 and the eastbound side of the State Route 91.

Both fire fronts are unusual in that they are extremely close to populated areas, such as Santa Rose and Glen Ellen, in northern California, and Anaheim, in the east of Los Angeles.

The fire front east of Los Angeles is presently zero per cent contained.

The strong winds made the fire’s movement difficult to predict, Anaheim police and fire department spokesman Daron Wyatt told reporters.

“With the wind-driven event, this fire can change behaviour very rapidly,” he said.

Despite the proximity of the fire, the Disneyland park is still open; according to reports it is hosting at least two media events this evening, for the Thor: Ragnarok film and the Cars franchise.

At least nine schools in the area have been closed as a precautionary measure.

October is considered a critical month in the Californian calendar as it combines high temperatures with low humidity, leaving the dry inland of the state most vulnerable to fire.

At least four of the five most destructive bushfires in the state’s recent history occurred in October, notably the 1991 Oakland Hills “firestorm”, which claimed 25 lives and destroyed almost 3000 buildings.

The Black Rock house that’s the ultimate people-pleaser

13/02/2019

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22 Cheltenham Road, Black Rock 22 Cheltenham Road, Black Rock
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Someone set a tall order when they named this property Jabulani. It’s Zulu for “bring happiness to everyone”. Live up to that if you can! However, the graceful Californian bungalow, with its garden swing and mosaic pool, is the ultimate people-pleaser.

Swanky 1920s living and dining rooms, a library, a modern lounge, renovated bathrooms and four double bedrooms with a view through blossoming trees could easily make a family fall in love at first sight. Nestled between the golf courses and Half Moon Bay, Jabulani is in the catchment area for the new Beaumaris Secondary College and for Mentone Girls’. Younger kids might want to do the “Usain Bolt”, a 130-metre sprint to Black Rock Primary .???.???. at 8.59am.

If the Californian bungalow is the George Clooney of houses – handsome even when scruffy – this is Clooney at the Oscars. The white two-storey weatherboard has been lovingly updated by the vendors, who also landscaped the garden.

A brick path wends through the high-hedged garden to the porch and double-door entry. The wide, typically ’20s hall opens left into the north-facing living room, which has pine floorboards, diamond-paned sash windows and a tiled open fireplace with a mirrored mantelpiece. Glass-paned doors link it to the dining room, which opens in turn to the kitchen. The library, at the house’s front, has bookcases.

Jabulani’s modern rear portion is a large, cream-tiled open plan area, ideal for entertaining. The family area has full-length windows and french doors to the covered patio. The white timber kitchen has Bosch appliances and new stone benchtops. In the laundry, a sliding door leads to a bathroom with a shower, with poolside access.

The carpeted first floor, via a scrolled staircase, begins with three double bedrooms and a tiled main bathroom with shower and bath. The capacious main bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and a porcelain en suite with shower.

???Jabulani seals its claim to its name in the garden, where the glass-fenced pool offers two spas in a chic sandstone frame. The idyllic surroundings include a barbecue kitchen, a cabana, a fountain flanked by orange trees, and a concealed shed. Come and get happy.

22 Cheltenham Road, Black Rock

$1.85 million – $2 million

Auction: October 21 at 11.30am

Agent: Buxton, Peter Hickey 0412 569 480

Why Tony Abbott looks forward to global warming: more beach days

13/02/2019

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“Climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm [and] .. a gradual lift in global temperatures … might even be beneficial”: Tony Abbott.
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Mr Abbott is right, of course.

A spot of global warming has many benefits, not least of which means a man would get a lot more lovely warm days to disport himself on the beach in his smugglers.

The beach itself is likely to get a lot closer, even if, as Mr Abbott mourns, it’s taking its good time. A hundred years of pictures and Manly beach has barely changed, he says. You can hear him urging it to hurry up.

Proper sea level rises could have the ocean lapping at a fellow’s front door. A whoopsy-doodle off the porch and you’ll be swimming with the fishes right away.

Talking about fishes. Life in the previously cooler climes would be vastly more colourful, with parrotfish, lovely big-lipped wrasses and coral trout leaping about as they search for a new home, having abandoned what was the Great Barrier Reef before it expired of global warming and Adani.

Mr Abbott, who trained as a priest until he comprehended his destiny was to abandon the cassock and reveal on a beach near you how he was created ‘in the image and likeness of God’, clearly knows his Bible well.

That bit about us forgetting the important Biblical precept about subduing the earth?

That’s from Genesis: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’.”

Genesis forgot to mention dominion over Malcolm Turnbull, but you’d imagine Mr Abbott figures it’s implied towards the end there.

You’ve got to hand it to him. Who else could get the Inquisition, the danger of voting, the thought police and science into the one compelling paragraph? Apart, of course, from Lord Monckton and Andrew Bolt?

“Beware the pronouncement, ‘the science is settled’,” he cried. “It’s the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought police, down the ages. Almost as bad is the claim that ’99 per cent of scientists believe’, as if scientific truth is determined by votes rather than facts.”

If only the truth about Mr Abbott’s period as prime minister hadn’t been determined by a party-room vote.

We’d still have a national leader who thinks global warming is a fine aspiration for the frozen, huddled masses.

Instead, we’ve got a lost boy aimlessly wandering the earth in search of an audience, his vision revealed in all its splendour – which is to say, without even a pair of pants.

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