Saturday, August 11, 2012

Newmania: Jessie the Elephant

Newmania: Jessie the Elephant

My late grandmother Queenie had a lovely turn of phrase for describing someone who oversteps the boundaries of acceptability. She used to say that someone - let's call him Eff - "has the hide of Jessie the Elephant". Grandma Queenie told me that it meant that Eff would do or say something that would obviously end badly, but that he'd be unconcerned by the inevitable fallout because he had a tough skin.*

I'd love to hear what my grandmother would say about Jeff Seeney. From the Brisbane Times, we learn that King Campbell's Ministers and MPs are experiencing emotional distress due to their task of cutting jobs from the Public Service.

Every government minister was facing ‘‘terrible, distressing times’’ as they made decisions about job and spending cuts, deputy premier Jeff Seeney told reporters this afternoon.

Mr Seeney said all ministers were finding the task very difficult to deal with.

‘‘It has been a very distressing time for all ministers,’’ Mr Seeney said.

‘‘They have been forced to look at making some terrible decisions in relation to a whole range of people who work for the government, who depend on the government for funding.’’

This bewildering piece of news comes just days after King Campbell's Mob acknowledged the morale problem within what's left of the Public Service, and blamed it on

(i) Leaks from within the Public Service
(ii) Frenzy whipped up by Unions and their scaremongering
(iii) The media, for reporting the job losses, the leaks, and the unions' displeasure

The one factor they didn't blame is their own intention to cut a total of around 20,000 full time equivalent jobs, with more to follow year on year.

Restructuring a business - or a government - is never easy for anyone involved. "Restructuring" is always business-speak for shuffling the organisation's human capital to enable a reduction in head count, and if any of King Campbell's Might-Do Team thought this governing business would be easy money, they're not only wrong, they're stupid.

Having said that, there are ways to manage a restructure to cushion the impact. Change Management on this scale might take a little longer and cost a bit more, but ultimately, there'd be less angst throughout the Kingdom.

Grandma Queenie, who would never have voted for anything other than the National Country Party in her 90 years on the planet, was a practical woman. Born in 1910, her first memories were of wartime, she left school just before the Great Depression, and had two war babies. She could squeeze the life out of meagre paycheque week after week, and she taught me how to extract the most value from a five-cent bag of mixed lollies. Guided by her Presbyterianism, decency, decorum and kindness were placed high on her list of priorities, yet her tongue was sharp when she felt it was justified.

If Grandma Queenie was around today, she'd have some advice for King Campbell, Eff Seeney, Prince Lawrence of Borg and the rest. She would raise herself up to her magnificent five-foot-nothing, smooth down her floral frock and pinny, and speak clearly but firmly. No-one would doubt that she meant every word. It'd go something like this:

Sit down, Little Man, and the rest of you, and listen to me. What you are doing to your people is terrible, but you are the Government and there's no way I can stop you. If you must do this, you will do it with care and compassion. Do you hear me? Compassion.

How dare you complain that you're having a hard time, because you made choices to put tens of thousands of people out of work? I mean, how dare you? Are you looking for sympathy? You won't get it, here or anywhere else. You people have hides like Jessie the Elephant.

You have made this decision to sack all these nice people. Don't you dare try to blame anyone else. We know you did it; you're the Government and you keep telling us that the state can't afford to pay for this and that. Okay, you had some problems to fix, but that's your job, and you earn bloody good money for doing it. In fact, you earn way more than most of the people you're sacking, and when it's done, you'll get to feel bad on a six figure salary. They won't have a salary. Think about that.

I'm glad you're suffering: you should be. You're hurting people, and it's not just the people you're throwing onto the street. You're feeling a little bit of what they're feeling. What about the people who need those services you're cutting? What about the kids in Logan who need Jude's SQW programme, or the nice gay people like Irene who need the QAHC?

So here's what you're going to do. You're going to ease up on this cut-cut-cut rubbish and start looking after people. You're going to let that nice Clive Palmer chap pay for his own high court shenanigans, and you're going to let the Horsie Race people look after themselves. If they can't make money out of gambling, good.

Then, you're going to put half that money away for a rainy day, and spend the other looking after all those nice public service people that you've upset.

Now, stop being so spoilt and insensitive and take responsibility for the pain you're causing. I've never seen anything this selfish in all my life. I'll bet your poor mother is ashamed. And for God's Sake, shut up about how hard this is for you. No-one cares!

*Jessie was a real Indian elephant, who lived at Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo from 1882 until her death in 1939. Click for more on Jessie.

1 comment: