The Guardian 23 March, 2005

Dingo bytes

Planes of shame dept: Qantas intends to use low paid, non-union cabin crews from Asia on its new budget Australian Airlines, taking a leaf out of the Ships of Shame flag-of-convenience vessels in the shipping industry. Crews on the budget line are paid 40 percent less than Qantas Airline crews. Australian Airlines wants unlimited access to foreign crews, with an ultimate goal of locking the Flight Attendants' Association out of all its operations.

The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department is in Australia to advise the NSW government on zero tolerance policing methods following the confrontation between police and people in the Sydney suburb of Macquarie Fields. William Bratton has been given medals for "cleaning up" crime in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. What this means is that the homeless, marginalised and unemployed are hounded out of the city, either locked up or forced into other areas, and high police numbers with increased powers are put permanently on the streets to keep things that way. As communist playwright Bertold Brecht noted, the rich create the poor, but can't stand to look at them.

The head of Pan Pharmaceuticals, which went belly-up in 2003, may face charges of forgery, drug counterfeiting and defrauding the Australian and Vietnamese governments. Jim Selim is also accused by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of forging official Australian documents containing signatures, seals, stamps and logos. The TGA alleges the forgeries were used to obtain marketing approval to sell Pan medicines in Vietnam. You may recall that Pan went into liquidation when the TGA recalled 1600 of its products which had been contaminated in the production process due to cost-cutting breaches of regulations. Selim has also been charged with destroying evidence about the drug Travacalm which put 19 people into hospital. A real pillar of society.

It's no surprise that Australia's under-funded, increasingly privatised child care services are failing to meet national operational guidelines. The National Childcare Accreditation Council monitors private and public centres according to a range of standards that include such things as safety, record keeping, and food handling practices. Areas the Council found had high proportions of unsatisfactory ratings include food and hygiene, and building and equipment safety. Naturally federal Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson, being a member of a government that denies being responsible for anything, blames it all on the states.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is former Family and Community Services Minister, Larry Anthony. Larry, who is part of a pastoral and political dynasty (daddy Doug was the leader of the Country Party, since re-named the National Party), was instrumental in the huge and rapid growth of the for-profit child care centres. Last week it was announced that he is now on the board of the biggest private child care operator, ABC Learning Centres, which last year under Minister Larry received $150 million in subsidies from the Howard government, and is set to receive $350 million this year.

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