The Guardian August 23, 2000

Someone ORTA tell you

by Anna Pha

"They orta tell you first instead of wasting valuable time", said one 
disgruntled businessperson making an early exit from the Olympic Roads and 
Transport Authority's (ORTA) Olympic Transport Seminar in Sydney last week. 
The seminar wasn't quite what some expected.

Businesses in the Central Business District were invited to free seminars 
to be given information on traffic changes during the Olympics and advice 
on how to go about arranging their affairs.

ORTA's promotional material pointed out that "Staff across Sydney will need 
to alter their commuting habits to assist smooth business operations during 
the Games and to keep the transport system moving".

Two of the biggest problems will be getting to work and picking up or 
dropping off deliveries.

For example, in some areas the use of designated loading zones will be 
restricted to between the hours of 1am and 7am. Some streets will be 
closed, others with restricted access and on-street parking prohibited.

Perhaps the penny should have dropped when a Telstra "show bag" of 
documents was handed out in Telstra's theatrette where the seminar was 
held. But it didn't.

The first presenter from ORTA gave a short, sharp rundown on the increased 
demand on public transport and the road system.

This was backed up with copies of overhead transparencies, a colour-coded 
map and information sheet in the show bags.

Participants were left with an idea of the enormity of the task ahead, 
millions of visitors, transport running 24 hours a day and huge delays 
during peak hours.

(It is clear that nobody is sure how bad it will be  the only indication 
since the seminar is that SOCOG is now talking about delaying Olympic 
events if too many of the spectators are late.)

The second presentation was given by a representative from Telstra.

She started by asking the audience if it was feasible for any of their 
staff to work from home. Very few hands went up, but non-the-less she 
continued with a lecture on the virtues of "flexible working"  at home.

"Have any of you thought of telecommuting? Plan now. And you can go on 
using it after the Olympics."

It was sounding more and more like a slick sales promotion, very little on 
how to plan for the Olympics, a great deal on how staff could be working 
more productively at home.

Gradually the penny began to drop. Telecommuting, with Telstra, of course.

Several of the audience walked out. Then a few more; probably retailers who 
didn't see how sales assistants could work at home.

Telstra theatrette. Telstra bag. And in the bag glossy Telstra brochures on 
how "Telstra can help your business meet the Olympic Games 
telecommunications challenge."

As the front page of the ORTA materials said: "Business As Usual", "Your 
Games Plan", "In partnership with Telstra".

It certainly was.

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