Critical APS roles 'at risk' of shortages - ( ANAO is aware - There is no longer time to dance, but time to advance as APS has too many chiefs and not enough Indians)
A NATIONAL explosion of the Omicron variant could cause public service staff shortages, including for critical service delivery roles, adding pressure on the federal government to set public service-wide working from home rules.
The peak union body has described the federal government's inaction as "reckless", urging it to step in and provide clarity for concerned critical staff who are still required to attend offices during major outbreaks.
Public Service Minister Ben Morton last week conceded working from home arrangements were not yet a "thing of the past" as Omicron, and future variants, risked unravelling plans.
But agencies, such as Services Australia, have been more resistant to sending staff home.
It's prompted concern over possible staffing shortages for critical service delivery roles.
The welfare agency told staff working in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, ACT and Queensland on Tuesday morning they would now be allowed to work from home until the end of January.
Public servants in Northern Territory and Tasmanian offices will, however, still be required to attend workplaces in person despite a rapid rise in cases.
APS staff shortage risk over varying WFH rules
While cases in Western Australia remain in the single digits, the Northern Territory and Tasmania recorded a combined total of nearly 2000 cases on Tuesday.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions slammed the federal government's inaction on the inconsistent messaging, urging them to go back to the drawing board.
Union secretary Sally McManus said the federal government needed to stop pretending outbreaks affecting critical service delivery staff weren't also happening in the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
"Australia's professional public servants have served on the front lines of the fight against this virus. Public servants deserve our gratitude and our respect, as do all the workers who have carried Australia through this crisis," Ms McManus said.
"By putting our hard-working public servants at risk, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is jeopardising the delivery of essential public services that Australians are relying on to make it to the other side of the COVID pandemic."
Labor's public service spokesperson Senator Katy Gallagher said clear advice was needed due to the challenges presented by the Omicron variant.
The ACT senator called on the federal government to be reasonable and do the right thing by public servants who had worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
"Some APS jobs can't be done easily from home, but it's upon the government to do the right thing by its workforce and at least provide consistent advice across departments on what the official APS position is when it comes to working from home during outbreaks," Senator Gallagher said.
"Making this position clear will also help to protect the health of public servants, their families and the communities that they live in."
Mr Morton previously told The Canberra Times agencies should respond in line with the health directions provided by states and territories.
More evidence of Fox News’ stranglehold on the Republican Party
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has called the events on Jan. 6, 2021, a “terrorist attack.” In fact, he has done so, reportedly, more than a dozen times in the past year, and most recently as last week — the anniversary of the insurrection.
Then he took it all back when Tucker Carlson put him on blast.
On his Fox News prime-time show, Carlson crushed Cruz, saying, “Every word Ted Cruz uses is used intentionally. He’s a lawyer. He described Jan. 6 as a violent terrorist attack. Of all the things Jan. 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack. It wasn’t an insurrection. Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack. Sorry! So why are you telling us that it was, Ted Cruz?”
What happened next? Cruz begged his way onto Carlson's show so he could grovel for forgiveness. Cruz told Carlson, “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy, and it was frankly dumb.”
But Carlson wasn’t having it, telling Cruz, “I don’t buy that. … You take words as seriously as any man who has ever served in the Senate, and every word — you repeated that phrase, I do not believe that you used that accidentally. I just don’t.”
Carlson insisted Cruz was helping “the other side” by referring to what happened on Jan. 6 as a terrorist act. Cruz backed down.
And there you have it.
The exchange not only showed how spineless Cruz is, but more importantly, how much power Carlson has, particularly among many conservatives. It showed how in lockstep Fox News and Republicans are and the influence Fox News has.
Amanda Carpenter, a former staffer of Cruz and now a columnist for The Bulwark, told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” that the key to the Carlson-Cruz interview wasn’t Cruz’s humiliation, but “his radicalization that happened right there in that interview.”
“This is how Tucker Carlson is guiding the message for the Republican Party on that network,” Carpenter said.
Meanwhile, another Fox News prime-time star, Sean Hannity, also has done more than opine about the news. He has been directly involved in the news. Last week, the Congressional committee investigating Jan. 6 released text exchanges that Hannity was having with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6, pleading that Donald Trump do something to stop the violence.
It was big news in most places.
“But,” Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi wrote, “it was quieter on the network on which Hannity has starred for the past 25 years. Over three days, Fox News journalists collectively devoted 88 seconds to the news.
Fox News’s coverage has consisted of brief mentions during news reports hosted by anchors Bret Baier, Dana Perino and Shannon Bream, the last after midnight on Wednesday. It has offered no discussion, no interviews and no statements from Hannity.”
None of this is a surprise, right?
Back when she was on her book tour, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham talked about how the Trump administration ran to Fox News whenever they wanted to get their message out. Grisham told The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, “There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine thinks we should do this.’”
(By the way, be sure to read the story by Parker and Dawsey.)
The fact that Hannity and Ingraham were even texting Meadows while insurrectionists were storming the Capitol shows the direct line of communications between Fox News and the White House and the potential influence Fox News commentators had.
Jeff Cohen, author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media,” told The Post that the issue is the hosts are not disclosing how close they are with Trump. (Although, geez, by this point, we kind of know that, don’t we?)
Cohen told The Post, “Journalists and media are supposed to be public checks on power, not private advisers to power. A commentator is still a journalist, and even if the commentator doesn’t consider him or herself to be a journalist, they still have to tell the public when they played a role in something they’re commenting on.”
Many of those over at Fox News either don’t know that or they know that and simply don’t care. Neither is good.
A bad error
Ugh, here’s some sloppy work. Politico’s Playbook ran an item on Saturday morning saying Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had dinner at some swanky D.C. restaurant on Friday night with Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This would have been only hours after Sotomayor did not appear for oral arguments about COVID-19 mandates in the Supreme Court.
But, as it turned out, the woman in the photo that Politico thought was Sotomayor was actually Schumer’s wife, Iris Weinshall. Politico ran a correction that partly blamed the person who sent the photo and said, “POLITICO standards require we verify this information. The editor who received the tip failed to do so in this case. We deeply regret the error.”
Everyone makes a mistake now and then, but this is a bad one because of the implications involved had it been true. Not showing up for important in-person Supreme Court work but then hanging out at a restaurant that night? With Democratic leaders, no less?
This is a bad mistake that could’ve been cleared up with a phone call or two and, instead, has led to some bad misinformation and conspiracy theories.