It was a bummer of a week for the Rudd government. Navel gazing about Australia needing 12 new submarines was followed by news that only 3 of the nation’s 6 subs could go to sea because of crew shortages. Sub-standard wages and conditions were blamed. Next it was revealed that the country’s 380 members of the elite SAS regiment, fighting in Afghanistan, were victims of a bureaucratic pay bungle that has been raging for months. Defence Minister Fitzgibbon said he had been given 10 different pieces of advice from Defence chiefs on how to fix the problem. Army Chief Lieutenant -General Ken Gillespie dispatched a “team” of pay specialists to the regiment’s Perth barracks to "solve the problem". (Prior to the computer age one payroll clerk armed with a pay-book journal, a ruler and pen, and a simple adding machine could handle the payroll of a factory employing 400 workers.) Lieutenant-General Ken Gillespie told a Senate enquiry that his staff had been “working their butts offs” since Christmas.
Talking of butts, the Treasurer Wayne Swann was a victim of political “wedging” over his claim that his “stimulus package” had seen some movement in the area of underpants. His "jocks and socks" recovery was soiled by the announcement that garment manufacturer, Pacific Brands, was to sack 1800 employees and set up shop in China. Meanwhile the defence minister (responsible for the SAS pay debacle) weighed in, attacking the $15 million wage package Pacific Brands gave their management team. The Weekend Australian reported that “former business high-flyers are returning as corporate undertakers”. Bill Moss, late war-lord-in-chief of Macquarie Bank’s banking and property, who retired with a $30 million package has set up PPB insolvency, a company designed to “pick over the bones of failed companies”. The paper said “In some cases members of insolvency companies are being paid to clean up the mess they helped create.”
Green advocates in America are demanding that the world change its toilet-paper habits, claiming that smooth/soft toilet paper is adding to global warming more so than Hummer motor vehicles. In Sweden a woman found an extra $1.7 billion (10 billion kronor) in her account, deposited as a correction for a credit card purchase. A new coffee shop opened in the American town of Vassalboro featuring topless male and female serve-persons. The possibly soon-to-shut-down San Francisco Chronicle reported five people shot in the tenderloin. The Tenderloin turned out to be a district of the city. In Britain The Guardian reported research into people with “back-firing” names such Terry Bull, Mary Christmas, Anna Sassin, Doug Hole. Ex-RAF airman, Stan Still said his name had been “a blooming millstone” for his entire life. It was not reported the how Carrie Oakey, Bill Board, Chris Cross, Justin Case or Paige Turner felt about their parents’ choice of names. Britain’s renown Michelin-starred restaurant Fat Duck has closed because of a food poisoning scare. A red-haired lesbian Batwoman has been created by DC comic. She is to be a lesbian Sapphic socialite by day and a leathered-up crime-fighter by night.