Monday, November 11, 2013

Opera [house] in Melbourne ..

I wish to thank the Sydney Opera House Trust from a Melbournian’s perspective for their decision to downgrade and make Bennelong restaurant more 'accessible'. 

That pesky Frenchman created a beautiful multi-hat restaurant called Bennelong within our national icon.  A first class affair befitting its status.  Guillaume Brahimi, being  that pesky Frenchman, sought to create something special in the space as has Ducasse who leads the restaurant Jules Verne within Paris’s Eiffel tower.  Little compromise in either ‘wonders of the world’.

However, Australians it seems, according to the opera house trust, want an ‘accessible’ venue similar to the dozens of cafes and restaurants in the immediate vicinity. 

The Utzon hating Ryan Committee of yesteryear seems reborn – ‘don’t bother to create something really special because us Australian’s just want pub tucker – no need for that smancy stuff – just give us another café/bar’.

Nothing special or world leading, just average so us average people can go there and feel, well, average.

As Sydney does not seem to appreciate how to deal with ‘first class’ I wonder if we could shift the opera house to Melbourne where we would indeed laud the brilliance of Utzon and create a world class experience decidedly away from average.

This is not a slight on the successful van Haandels and we wish them well but my question remains, ‘Do we want yet another café / bar and importantly, do we want it in our one-off wonder of the world?’

My thanks, as a Melbournian, to the trust for downgrading Sydney.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mr Tony Jones and the producers of Q&A …

I have said for some time that Q&A should be required viewing for anyone over 15.  However, it seems that the power of the 'lowest common denominator' talk show is starting to take over from intelligence.  Tony, on Lateline I thought you were a trifle arrogant and self serving but you positively shined on Q&A.  No joke.  As a host and moderator you were great.  But now it seems that your personal biases and perhaps Q&A's producers are letting the side down. 
You have an opportunity to delve into and debate real issues of national strategic importance yet you succumb to drivel such as the $1k Prime Minister Abbot repaid.  Unfortunately, it took an international guest to tell you the story was and is unimportant.
Tony, you and Australia are better than this.
It is up to you to steer the discussion away from minutia and curb most of your guests predication to talk forever, but in a manner showing respect and one which befits a moderator in Australia’s most important ‘discussion’ show [as distinct from talk].
Tony, please remove your personal labour predilection and indeed the labour parties mandate to focus on simple minded issues AND remove both parties desire to air 5 second cheap shots.  Last Monday you were rude to MP Hunt accusing him of ‘political diatribe’ yet when Ms Ellis and Ms Benjamin rattled on about very little and without focusing on the point you said nothing.  Why?  It also was indeed obvious that Mr Sheridan had lost it with both you and Ms Ellis because she was virtually out of control and you did nothing.  His was the voice of reason where, as moderator, you should have stopped Ms Ellis.
Indeed, Mr Shorten was also the voice of reason a couple of weeks ago.  He had to put you in your place when you tried to involve his mother in law.  I have a lot of respect for Mr Shorten and his ability to focus on important issues without distraction on minutia.
Mr Jones I am a liberal voter who worries about Prime Minister Abbot as our representative on the world stage but as a country we must support both him to move into his ‘statesman’ role and his /our government to succeed.  It IS NOT your role to either try to create news or to give voice to stupidity or to create sedition through unrest and biased coverage.
It IS your role to bring Q&A back to THE pre-eminent ‘discussion’ show focusing on matters of national importance rather than ‘talk show’ minutia.   Sure, address the current issues but leave the unimportant to commercial channels. 
You decide the questions which will be asked and answered - so please let’s raise the bar.
Good discussions,
Jon Langevad.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Virgin Vs People - Read down to Virgin's response

We returned from Bali to Melbourne last Wednesday night on the Virgin ‘red eye’ leaving Bali around 10pm and arriving around 5am on Thursday.

We flew what is euphemistically known as ‘cattle class’.  Virgin unfortunately took this description as a mandate to treat people as just that – cattle.

I am just over six foot and I had ‘zero’ leg room with my knees pressed hard against the seat in front.  Surly this is against health and safety regulations because the only way I could get into or out of my seat was to drop in sideways using the seat in front as support.  No leg room means no movement, cramps and the increased possibility of deep vein thrombosis and swollen ankles.  The gent next to me tried to put on support socks but the only way he could achieve this was to literally stand on the seat.  He was well into his sixties.

The chocolate mousse and the pasta on the way over were inedible as was the chicken casserole and the ‘sweet’ bread roll on the return flight.  Why do Virgin proffer this rubbish when there is so much cooking talent in Australia capable of producing great ‘airline’ food?

For a night sleeping flight there were no blankets, no entertainment and seats which reclined all of about two inches and being literally jammed in.  Unable to move, the bloke next to me farted all flight, the one in front was constantly and loudly cleared his sinuses and a woman two people away threw up several times during the flight. Cattle.

When the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign came on staff locked down the cabin and allowed no-one to move from their seats including going to the toilet.  Strange that this lockdown occurred just prior to meal service on both flights and was rescinded just after service.  Could it be that staff are using the seat belt sign to make their job easier?

Attitude by staff was appalling.  When the meal or drinks trolley was pulled and pushed up the isle there was no thought for tired jammed in people with an elbow in the way remembering as the cart came from behind one cannot see the approach.  Twice I was hit by the cart with no apology.  It seems staff think they have a mandate to treat people as cattle.

But, by far the worst example of Virgin’s systemic attitude towards clients was when my partner went to join the toilet queue prior to landing.  After 10 minutes creeping up the line she was about to enter the toilet when the male staff member told her that there was no time for her to go to the toilet and to return to her seat.  The fasten seat belt sign did not come on for another 5 minutes.  This is insane and shows quite clearly what Virgin staff think of their customers – cattle.

Facilities, service and importantly, staff attitude was and is appalling.

Virgin should be paying us to suffer this sort of treatment.

Virgin’s response from Katharine Molloy  with my comments in red …

Dear Mr Langevad,
Firstly, thank you for your feedback and taking the time to let us know of your recent experience.
After reading through your feedback, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apology for any disappointment you felt with our Economy class and In Flight experience on your flight from Denpasar to Bali. May I suggest that the disappointment I felt was caused by Virgin – there is a direct cause and effect. Do not try and distance yourself from blame.
Firstly, our cabin crew are trained to provide outstanding customer care on board at all times and as we take great pride in our team members, it is concerning to read of your dissatisfaction with the level of service provided. As such please rest assured  your individual comments have been distributed to the relevant Cabin Crew managers, this will enable them to provide further training and coaching where necessary. It is not enough to blandly say that your staff are trained when it is very obvious that they are not.  You cannot take pride in rubbish.  Telling the managers has nothing to do with the service I was provided – it may affect future customers but I still suffered at the hands of incompetent staff and as I paid for and expected reasonable care and attention, Virgin failed and did not provide the product for which I paid.  If I may make a suggestion, never use the phrase ‘rest assured’.
It is also with regret to learn of your disappointment regarding the lack of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE), poor quality meals and restrictive seat dimensions. We strive to ensure all of our guests have an enjoyable and pleasant experience with us so it is with concern to learn this was not the case for you on this occasion. Once again, my disappointment was caused through Virgin providing rubbish food and not providing even barely adequate leg space.  This is a failure to provide a product for which I paid and I believe dangerous.
Mr Langevad, to clarifying, regrettably IFE is not always guaranteed on our aircrafts, is stated in our terms and conditions on the Virgin Australia website and is also noted and agreed to at the time of booking. Fine.
I can also advise that we are constantly reviewing our product offering in order to improve our services. Your feedback in regards to seat dimensions and unsatisfactory meals has given us key areas of focus in order to enhance our guest's experience and your comments will be taken into consideration when developing further enhancements to our product offering.  I am sorry to say this Katharine but this is banal crap.  I am not trying to enhance your guests experience, I am telling you that the experience I received was well below par and I believe dangerous.

I do hope you give us the opportunity to welcome you back on board one of our flights in the near future, and provide you with the high standards of service we pride ourselves on. Katharine, I paid for and expected a level of service and amenity consistent with advertised parameters.  I did not receive that and hence expect a refund.  I have already published my complaint on Trip Advisor and my blog.  To even say that you have high standards which you pride yourselves on is insulting to us and does indeed show a lack of care or indeed even an intelligent response.

As I said, Virgin has failed to deliver a merchantable product which I paid for.  For this I expect a refund.  Secondly, I expect Virgin to offer more than banalities.  I find your supercilious attitude insulting and appalling given the seriousness of the complaint.

I am publishing my continuing findings and involving the relevant authorities.

Kind regards,
Katharine Molloy [Virgin]

Sunday, July 14, 2013


There is a tendency for all the regulators and interventionists to hide behind 'the – must be followed - process' and from a complainants of view it is frustrating.  I have read the various acts and try to understand the respective charters as 'regulators etal' and I try to understand each department not wanting to get involved in single disputes.

However, it IS those single disputes which seem to point to systemic and endemic issues.

ASIC have taken some flak recently about not acting on vital issues. [Commonwealth Bank] when early intervention could have saved millions.

The cases I have reported to ASIC [and are current] against banks all revolve around banks ignoring provisions of ASIC, ACCC, ACL and CCMC.  These issues are both systemic and endemic and effect millions of people.  Yet ASIC do nothing.

The inclusion of 'unfair terms and conditions' by the banks is prevalent, with them relying on obviously illegal clauses breaching many acts telling their customers they must comply. This is gross misrepresentation.  It’s actually worse because they will not put anything in writing rather relying on call centre staff to issue verbal threats which the customer is not allowed to record the conversation.  Dodgy?

Secondly, they ignore provisions of the NCCP particularly at S72, S88 and S89.  ALL the banks with whom we deal ignore the law yet ASIC don't do anything.

Lastly, I have a case against nab at FOS waiting for determination with nearly 2 years of 'must be followed process' by FOS.  ASIC, CCMC and ACCC refuse to become involved until FOS make a determination.  This is stupid when there is an obvious dysfunction and where a combined approach could expedite the matter and create systemic change.

In our current  case, nab have clearly breached legal requirements and continue to do so at our expense and I dare say at the expense of a few hundred thousand other so called 'customers'.

Yet ASIC seem reticent to do anything instead relying on its own 'must be followed process'. 

With one particular case at FOS for nearly two years you can imagine what I think of their process.  I have been quite direct.

ASIC's website indicates it will take action yet it doesn't happen?

Change does NOT take years – people take years to create change.  There wouldn’t be private enterprise if we took years to make a decision. 

May I suggest a little bit of strategic change management within the regulators etal would benefit our society.  Delays cost money and effect people’s lives in a very dysfunctional manner and - life is indeed finite.  Unlike FOS, TIO, ACCC, ASIC and CCMC the rest of us do not have years to wait for someone to do something. 

Presuming we are going to keep having requests for intervention, and maybe at an increasing rate, we need to create the changes necessary to expedite quality solutions.  Strategic change, resource allocation and people with the desire to protect society from illegal acts in an appropriate time frame.  People who don’t mind pursuing the wrongdoers – publicly and quickly.

Process is only a tool to create action – it is not a change agent in itself or an excuse for not doing anything.

Jon Langevad

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gender Politics

Federal Government – Question time and the gender ‘card’..
It is only fools and idiots who attack the person rather than the behaviour.
Men and women are not equal!  And, thank God for that.
Women think differently and do some things better - and that is a good thing.
Men think differently and do some things better - and that is a good thing.
The world would be a sad place without both sides of thought.
I have run project teams all over the world and have always attempted to maintain a 50/50 gender split.

One is like water and the other sand.  Individually strong in some respects but also easily moved aside.  You can easily move water aside and kick sand into the air but, mix them up in the right proportions and ‘they’ become a strong and resilient force.  Yet sand and water together remain separate, identifiable and unique - not homogenous but working together to become that force.  A partnership

Apart from remaining unique the second criteria is respect where that respect is a God given right for everyone.  Without necessarily agreeing, respect each other and respect each other’s opinions.  It’s actually quite easy and cathartic to assume you will like and respect someone before you meet them!
Perhaps our political leaders need to learn to enjoy our differences and the inherent strength of working together.
Jon Langevad

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


It seems that banks and commercial leasing agents and business brokers and probably anyone with a pen and disregard for the law include in their many and various contracts, terms and conditions which are clearly in breach of various acts.  

When pressed on the phone they quote these conditions endlessly espousing that they are ‘published’; presumably with the thought that mere publishing gives them credence.  They obviously ignore their illegal nature.  This would seem to be gross misrepresentation with the employee and the company being joint and severally responsible.

When it comes to the crunch these illegal conditions will be read down and be as if they were not in the contract but the question remains. “Why are companies including terms and conditions in their contracts they know are illegal and quoting them over the phone as binding?”  There can be only one reason and that is to confuse the customer through a misrepresentation of the facts.

The customer loses money and time forcing companies forcing them to comply with the law.

It seems that the regulatory bodies like ACCC, ACIC and ACMA ignore this practice so to protect myself I now publish my own terms and conditions which Banks, Estate agents and Business brokers Etal [BEBE] must comply just because I have published!  Just 6 of the 7,312 as an example …

  1. All BEBE’s must immediately answer my phone calls with a real person with no menus to navigate;
Fine .. 100 Penalty units
  1. All BEBE’s must instigate training for all employees to make them realise that we are the customer and that they are not doing us a favour;
Fine .. 100 Penalty units
  1. All BEBE’s will accept anything I request, do and say as law and will action any requests forthwith;
Fine .. 200 Penalty units
  1. All BEBE’s will immediately remove any confusing, illegal and misrepresentative term or condition and immediately subjugate themselves to my 7,312 published [elsewhere] Terms and Conditions remembering that they must be legal because I have published them. [Keep in mind that even though ‘elsewhere’ is somewhat obtuse and confusing does not mean you can ignore them]
Fine … 300 penalty units
  1. All BEBE’s agree that we may change any or all terms and conditions at any time without your consent or knowledge or acquiescence and they still must comply without reservation:
 Fine … 400 Penalty units
  1. All BEBE’s agree that any phone communication may be recorded by us for litigation purposes and that may not do the same; 
Fine … 400 Penalty units

Penalty unit = $195 to be paid into my personal ‘collections’ account [the collections department is specifically enabled to collect fines from BEBE’s]

Jon Langevad

Friday, May 10, 2013


We all from time to time focus on minutia rather than the big picture because it’s easy and allows our addled brains a respite against life’s major challenges.  Golf is the perfect ‘escape’ as it requires absolute concentration on hitting a very small white ball and blocks out all other issues affecting our lives.  The golf driving range is positively therapeutic.
This is a necessity for us mere mortals but I question as to whether or not it is appropriate for our Government to continually focus on relatively small issues rather than platform our country into a strategic future as a world player.
Our leaders should be galvanising our country towards a common ‘world’ future yet what we see is continual bickering over minutia through somewhat cringe-worthy  behaviour as demonstrated every day in Parliament and picked up by the media in sound and video ‘bites’.
There is no doubt that the current Federal Government has lost people’s confidence through a litany of economic, financial and human mistakes.  Mistakes which should not have happened at this level with so many smart people ready, willing and able to analyse, plan and action an almost mistake proof Government.
Our country will engender a change in Government in September because we have lost faith; and for good reason.
But, to what?
Where are the people we can rally behind to drive our country.  People such as Hawke or Fraser who were/are statesman and did indeed represent  Australia with charisma and leadership.  Orators of some skill able to garner opinion and turn it into something positive.  The skill-sets of Obama, Thatcher, Clinton and Blair are awe inspiring and as world leaders are able to create change by unifying their nations.
No one in their right mind would agree with everything they did but there is no doubt they delivered for their respective countries.  Hawke, when we won The America’s cup was fantastic, because he almost single handed expressed what we were all feeling – a slightly larrikin pride in our country as Australians.  He had the ability to galvanise all political persuasions on the big issues, such as whipping those pesky Americans, and he did it with grace and humour.  Read some of Menzie's speeches to see similar statesman humour and listen to the power of Obama when he speaks.
We will elect a new lot in September and we will expect better Government yet I wonder whether or not we will get the leadership our country really needs.
The bickering minutia set is on all sides of politics with everyone playing the media game of the 5 second destructive sound bite.  The Prime Minister with her misogynist attacks was perfect for a 5 second destruction as was Abbot’s Julia the liar campaign.  Unfortunately both were rubbish and did and have tarnished both ‘leaders’ with a 10 year old bully mentality of low intellect.
Politicians try to excuse this behaviour by saying that parliament debate is vigorous .  Vigorous is hitting a white ball, debate is supposed to be intelligent, intellectual and demanding of logic and clear thinking.  Now think of question time.
We are better than this.
Mr Abbot will be our next prime Minister leading our country into a strategic future.
The question is, ‘Can he remove himself from the minutia set and rise above dysfunctional behaviours and become the leader and statesman we all want and need’?
At the risk of trivialising this issue watch Rowan Atkinson move from bumbling idiot to ‘becoming’ Johnny English the secret agent in seconds.  A transformation with obvious links to Mr Abbot.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Goodwill in life and business

One of the most misunderstood concepts in business concerns our perceptions of ‘Goodwill’.
Perhaps good will means that one thinks good things about someone else and we ‘will’ our positive thoughts and actions so that others get warm and fuzzy - just from our mere brain waves.  Nice!
On the other hand, perhaps it’s how we view ourselves through someone else’s eyes?  Perhaps we have spent years being nice to someone so that they in turn think good things about us?  In this case we have spent time and effort doing whatever it takes to make others think nice things of us.  Good!
For example, families and friends take real work to remain family and friends and dare I say the development of mutual goodwill is a key ingredient.  The bonus is when all of a sudden those obviously recalcitrant family dropkicks respond with equally magnanimous gestures, we have indeed developed goodwill and the world is a joy and we bathe in those esoteric warm and fuzzy self gratifications.
This is also the case in business.
We spend time and effort and money convincing others that they should spend their discretionary dollar with us and not that horrible bloke down the street.  In effect, we are developing goodwill.
In rather blunt terms - in business and in life goodwill can be defined as that ….

“Intangible benefit of reputation relative to that benefit being of value to another party.”

When this applies to a business the ‘goodwill’ component is the value of the reputation of the business.  This may result in increased revenue and may even result in long term benefit.  We hope!!
On the contrary, an empty premise has no goodwill from clients but may have a measure of ‘value’ based on its location, neighbours, etc.  However, a premise in distress has negative goodwill because its reputation has been sullied.  Logical, really.
When selling a business, goodwill is not an accounting sum associated with excess earnings.  Whilst accountants will want to put a quantifiable figure on goodwill, there is far more involved.
For a business sale, there can never be guarantees of future income streams because there are a myriad of factors outside of the control of the seller to even be able to logically or legally guarantee. Therefore, excess earnings as a determinant of business value is a nonsense.  It is merely one factor of many.
When buying a business, of far greater value is the way in which customers view their relationship towards the premise, its reputation and indeed their willingness to continue that relationship without having to rebuild a reputation from scratch or far worse, from a negative.  Bloggers as real and vitriolic customers have changed the face of goodwill in business – for the better!!
In essence, goodwill boils down to the willingness of people to continue a relationship with the new owner.  The business may have great excess earnings but has just blotted its copybook by poisoning the neighbours.  On paper it’s worth dollars but in reality worth squat because of the salmonella cookies.
When buying a business the only consideration is, ‘can I be successful ‘.  To do that the value of committed clients is crucial and has a dollar value.  That value cannot be logically calculated albeit bloggers have made that much easier by their transparent and public opinions.
But then, every blogger may love a certain business but it still doesn’t work for whatever reason.  May I say that the value of the goodwill is still strong and doesn’t change but the overall business value is mitigated by a straight revenue valuation.
So, goodwill is esoteric, unknowable and incalculable yet it has value because it means customers will come and try the new person in the new business.  A head start on bankruptcy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

There is an issue developing with the way we treat people who read what some may call subversive material.

When I was a lad I read everything I could about homemade firearms with a view to building something which went bang!  You remember, a penny bunger down a lump of pipe with a ball bearing thrown in on top – point it at the fence and wait - only to suffer the ignominy of a hiding from Dad when a large hole appeared.  Or, reading up on how to make a boat only to launch an old door off Black Rock beach and float to glory.  Half a mile out and it dawned on our collective pea brain that we were heading into the shipping lane faster than we could paddle back to shore. Rescued by a fisherman and another hiding.  How about reading up on making a bow and arrow only to have my best ‘friend’ shoot me in the face – quivering arrow embedded in my cheek and, you guessed it, another hiding. This is normal boy’s stuff, adventure and projectiles. 
There were a plethora of books available for boys to ponder over and discuss what would be considered by today’s moral police to be subversive and indeed even anarchistic as well as deeming those evil tomes for corrupting the minds of boys leading them into the paths of terrorism and world domination!
Can you imagine what one of moral turpitude could write about my antics as a boy?  “Terrorist plot foiled by fisherman when youths caught in shipping lane on homemade boat waiting to sink American container.  These same despots have previously been caught developing home made weapons of mass destruction designed to inflict maximum damage. They have also been caught with terrorist instruction manuals. They should be immediately jailed for the rest of their horrible and unchristian lives!”
 Sounds like a big call for a couple of 10 year olds somewhat lacking in a sense of self preservation and an overinflated sense of adventure with no allergies or colds or disease or, brains.
The exampled news article from the moral high ground person was created from the very dark side of their own thoughts and desire to sell news papers turning a couple if idiot 10 year olds into perpetrators from the ‘axis of evil’.
I have read part of David Hicks book yet I don’t think I will be developing any desire to go and follow some passion in another country through and by just reading his book.  I can remember reading books by Dennis Wheatley as a kid on the occult and being fascinated but I don’t think I will be buying a pointy hat any time soon.  At our school we had a church service every morning – 2400 sessions of attempted indoctrination - yet I have no desire to pursue a role as a religious do-gooder. 
I have read the bible dozens of times and indeed have a couple of those inculcating tomes floating around the house somewhere.  Does this mean I am a religious extremist with views taken from a collection of part phrases?  Not bloody likely.
As I am scrawling this I am looking around at our library.  Right there in front of me is another mine of information allowing me to research possible malfeasant targets.  This incendiary publication is innocently called the ‘The White Pages’.  I can slobber over this whilst wearing my pointy hat and thinking of my antics as a “despot youth reading unchristian terrorist instruction manuals such as Popular mechanics”.
Then there is the internet.  That terrorist inspired publication, The White Pages’ is on-line!  God help us all.
This week a person was arrested for reading ‘subversive’ material and accused of a crime because someone somewhere deemed the material subversive and of Al Qaeda origin.  Every bloke should therefore be arrested who had read the White Pages, Popular Mechanics, The Bible, any thriller novel or has seen any ‘action’ movie over the last 50 years.
Mao Tse Tung tried to remove Chinese culture by removing books. Stalin and Hitler did the same. These delightful despots believed that if you removed people’s ability to seek information then you gain control.  The sad thing is that they nearly pulled it off and worse, their idea of censorship is still alive and well in today’s challenged dictatorships.
It has been proven time and time again that people will seek information and then disseminate what they think is right and what is wrong.
There will always be people who read into a sentence just what they want to hear and make judgements based on no fact.  Take the fictitious article written about my attempts to sail to glory as a 10 year old - nothing to do with reality.  It’s not the act but the reporting which creates angst.
It’s not what people read, it’s how they interpret it. What’s more, if too many books have been burnt then the total picture is not available and people will make decisions on limited and possibly spurious texts.  Not good.
I was lucky because as part of my 2400 church services we discussed all religions on equal terms with an overriding agenda not to judge.  Obviously, as a Presbyterian school, the preference was to guide us into the true light of that belief, but not at the expense of intellectual understanding.
The same cannot be said for other doctrines which attempt to blind and demand adherence to what is a very small section of life.
Therefore, the issue is not what they read but what they DON’T read.  Balance in everything is good whereas dictated opinion is bad.  Take ‘Reds under the beds’ and ‘George Orwell’s1984’ as examples.
I personally don’t think it an issue that someone reads a subversive document.  Every Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Christian Scientist or orthodox Jew could also be accused of subverting another’s chosen true way if all we had to judge on was the specific written word of each doctrine.
Every one of those believers who decry other’s beliefs should also be arrested and jailed as was the person downloading alleged Al Qaeda subversive material.
Perhaps not a good thought as this act alone is heading towards Hitler’s idea of a free world.
I personally have been threatening to read the Koran.  It’s about time and like Popular Mechanics, The Bible and the White Pages, it’s an obvious terrorist book designed to subvert the masses into a proletarian uprising.
Can you imagine how the same writer who wrote the fictitious article on me as a floating kid could perceive this wanton act.
“Brainless dropkick youth previously guilty of terrorist plots grows up to continue his life of subversion and anarchy by downloading and indeed even reading the other side’s religious text!  His intentions are obviously Armageddon generated from the axis of evil.  God Help us all”
Yep, if that drivel is what we believe and those beliefs guide our actions then truly, ‘God Help us all’.
Jon Langevad   

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I find a worrying trend in business and indeed within our legal system, a trend which undermines the very heart of our society. 
A basic tenet of ‘justice’ is that an accuser has to prove their accused is guilty.  It is not up to the accused to prove their innocence. 
In reality, it may be quicker for the accused to establish an alibi and circumvent the process.  However, the accused does not have to prove innocence and it makes perfect sense in that the accuser must have a proper case in order to accuse else there is no capacity to accuse.
Innocent people are left alone to enjoy without having to defend spurious action.
Fast forward to business.
Big companies seem to be trying to reverse that process especially when they are in a position to alter someone’s capacity to enjoy life.  For instance banks, communications companies or indeed any company we deal with.
The reason is obvious in that it’s far cheaper for a company to accuse without proof and sit back and wait until the accused proves they are innocent.  And, they must prove it or suffer withdrawal of some service.
This reverse thinking has also infected our legal system in services such as the ‘Financial Ombudsman Service’ or FOS.
For example, when a financial institution does the wrong thing and one is forced to engage FOS as an independent third party to help defend oneself, the burden of proof to maintain innocence often rests with the accused rather than the financial institution. 
Given this dysfunction, it also follows that accusing without merit carries a responsibility to return the injured party back to the position they were in prior to the fallacious accusation.  Otherwise the innocent party would have paid in some way for defending their innocence. 
Most of the time this cost in its simplest terms will be time.
Time is the one thing we can never replace and it is utterly wasted when we are required to protect our innocence against fallacious claims.
Using the FOS example, you have been accused of something and you must spend time proving your innocence as its charter is specific in that it requires both parties to conciliate and negotiate and you do indeed prove your innocence perhaps spending 50 hours doing so. 
So, the burden of proof was shifted to the wrongly accused and what’s more, the innocent party has spent time defending the wrongful action.  Time they can never get back and time virtually stolen by the accuser.
Yet FOS deem that the wrongly accused or indeed even a winning persons time has no value and will not direct compensation.
For example, a bank does the wrong thing which drastically effects our capacity to live as we had before their illegal action, we are forced to go to FOS to protect our interests and spend hundreds of hours defending ourselves against the banks illegal actions then at the end of the process the bank walks away with not even an apology whilst we have lost the one thing we cannot replace, time.
Not only have we lost our most valuable resource but we have lost our legal right to the burden of proof remaining with the accuser.  So, in effect, we are paying to have our legal rights removed.
Big business is laughing because their costs are reduced whilst the people they accuse suffer.
Doesn’t seem fair and it is most certainly against the meaning of the Westminster system of law.

Jon Langevad

EDUCATION - One person’s semi-educated opinion.

There seems to be a lot of discussion about education with every Minister trying to sound as though it was and is their life’s work to do ‘something’ about every minority interest group wanting to push their own agenda.  The result is a confused debate stuck in minutia.
There is no point in discussing teacher underperformance / pay or disability payments or indeed anything unless, the first question is asked and we all agree on the answer.
That question is – “Where do we want Australia to be in say 20 years?”
If the agreed collective decision is “She’ll be right, mate” then we tootle along as we have and we will all stand back aghast in 20 years when our country falls into third world status with loud protestations from the newly unwashed such as, ‘Not my fault mate, I wanted a new drinks fountain for the 8 year olds 20 years ago and that would have made the difference, but no one listened.  Now look at them at 28 and they are water deprived and illiterate’.
However, if we decide that we want Australia to lead the world in thinking, ideas and a really positive outlook on life then we need to make a few decisions – starting at the pointy end.
There are only two guiding parameters.  Firstly, everyone has a potential to create greatness and secondly, greatness can only happen if we provide the channels through which those magical thoughts can be turned into something special.
To provide those channels we need to accept the fact that an investment is required with all of us needing to contribute to make our country something special.
I have personal opinions as does everyone else but as I am writing this, then ..
Firstly, we do not spend time instilling into our little blighters a thinking ethic.  Sounds a bit harsh telling a four year old that thinking is a good thing until the alternative is realised.  Kids need to do kids things like suck the dog’s tail and live in a fantasy world and have extremes of emotion and know there’s always a hand to hold.  But they also need to experience the joy of thinking and accomplishment.  Personally, I think I realised I was part of the human race about the time I turned 30 and had to go back to school to get my degrees.  But I’m a bloke so I’ve got an excuse.
Therefore, I believe, we need to spend a huge amount of time making sure that when all our little pre-human poo machines turn 6 or 7 they have a joy of learning instilled into them which will enable them to focus and turn the mundane into the great.
Some will say that it’s the parents responsibility, and it is in part, but we cannot abrogate our responsibility as a society because it’s far far too important and, it has to happen early in life.  And, believe it or not, parents are ill equipped because they are actually just learning on the job.
Therefore, if we as a society accept the need to give our kid-ettes a leg up then we need to invest money, time, effort and drive into making it happen.  This is not about endless debate or trials or test cases or any other time wasting initiative actively sought by spotlight seeking minorities doing anything to stick their mono-syllable utterance machines in front of a microphone.
But it is about our Government [remember the ones who are supposed to represent us and do what the majority want] declaring war on ‘average’ and giving our brats and brat-ettes from 4 to 7 a boost into the future through focusing on the joy of learning stuff.
And, I bet there is an absolute plethora of talented people out there who can make this happen quickly, easily and with little politicking.
When we achieve this bunch of kids sneaking up on the age of reason actively seeking new challenges, then it will be a self fulfilling enigma machine because drive will come from within their buzzing and exponentially expanding brains - not from the outside from someone with a big learning stick.   
This should be free to all.
Now, given all the stuff in the middle is accomplished and we are seeking benefit for Australia then we also have a right to expect payback for all the freebies.
Our new and inspiring education machine is now spitting out people with trade qualifications, diplomas, degrees and doctorates at the peak of their intellectualism, creativity and ability to see the impossible as, possible.
 Yet, we shake their hands make them wear a funny hat and say see you later. “She’ll be right”. 
We have looked at the best start and the middle bit supporting a self fulfilling prophesy, now we need to focus on the prophesy bit.
Can you imagine the payoff for all this free education being as simple as giving a year back to the society which supported their success.  And what’s more, as we have instilled a thinking ethic at the almost human stage, these educated thinking machines will be champing at the bit to start their careers with a bang.
That bang is simple.  The first year out of education and prior to awarding a qualification, everyone would be required to join a think tank and work with like minded people to create ‘something’ for the benefit of our country.  Obviously, not everyone will be able to achieve a brain snapping moment but as long as everyone improves something it will snowball with a self fulfilling result – greatness.
Start with a vision to make Australia great, focus on creating a thinking ethic in little tackers, support that thinking / learning right through the education system and let it culminate in think tanks and outcomes and ‘greatness’.
How hard can it be?
Jon Langevad MBA

PS: Critical issues:
We need people who can channel the excitement of learning  – purge the dross.
Education should be free with the same investment in every kid.
Parents may choose a different school with that investment linked to their kid.
Develop and channel learning through the NBN for isolated kids.
Support kids with disability / different abilities to succeed.
Kids who fall out of the system need a hand to hold – not everyone will succeed 100%.
Everyone at any age needs that hand to hold at sometime – this should also be built in.
[note that the ‘hand’ is far more than just monetary benefits – it is also emotional support]
Beware the vocal minority moving focus away from the real issues.