Disappointment, hospital and garden disasters

emailEmails are the strangest things. If you send a nasty message to an address you will have a reply with in the hour. If, however,  you send an email that requires a 10 second  “yes ” or “no ” response to the same address, the chances of a reply are fairly remote. Strange that!! I was waiting for an email that never came and I fear is unlikely to come now. Oh well, things happen – or in this case, don’t!  Disappointment aside, it has been a busy week visiting people in hospital and one in Palliative Care. Accident in town and elderly lady killed in a car collision. Actually as a passenger  she survived the collision but died in hospital. Car accidents and rushed to hospital are not great for an 85 year old. Don’t know if anything happened yesterday but the Royal Flying Doctor Service  flew in late at night.  There is still an air of – depression is too strong a word – but more a feeling of unease about the future.  Many people, despite the assurances in the press, don’t really trust what they are being told and although there seems to be more orders, four and a half billion dollars, is a lot to try and pay back. Also the company is up for sale and the fact that the good Arrium is be sold off first leaving the steelworks and the South Australian Mining Operations – which are the loss makers in the business – to bring up the rear and whoever thinks about buying the steelworks and the mining operations will have to consider the massive debt that goes with it. The administrator believes that the company will be on the market in July and that the steelmaker  could have a new owner by Christmas. There are interested parties – so we are told – but six months before we know anything.

For a number of reasons the back garden is not a place to wander in the dark. It is so overgrown now that I fear for my safety. I think there might be lions in there hiding in the undergrowth. Between a whole host of things I have let it become very neglected. I would show you photographs but I wont because it is so bad I am ashamed to let anyone see it. Even when I brought in the

How blue the water looks. This is the Spencer Gulf. Not my photograph
How blue the water looks. This is the Spencer Gulf.  Taken from the Hill.         Not my photograph

 

workman to give me a quote to clear it and  I explained to him what I wanted done.  Anyway he did give me a quote which I found quite reasonable, so, he is coming with his equipment to clear the  place and take everything back down to the bare earth. Once that’s done I will then decide what I want done with the area. I have plans – well ideas more than plans – but it will mean a trip to Adelaide (Bunnings) to get the things I want. Why not shop locally,  after all we have three big hardware stores here? Very simply they don’t have what I want, whereas I know Bunnings do. Ho yes they can order it but it takes ages and costs more and then they slap on a delivery charge. Much better to empty the trailer and go to Bunnings  – yes, it’s a 370 mile round trip, but worth it.

I have another funeral to prepare for but at least I have enough time to get things set up, printed and collated.  It will all have to be done on my printer again and I will have to charge for the ink – it’s too much otherwise. With any reasonable luck we should have the church photocopier repaired and returned by the end of this week. But once again almost an entire ream – 400  – printed sheets  and there was some wastage this time  – I printed some sheets in the wrong sequence –  oops. Busy few days with the workmen coming on the Tuesday and the funeral on the Wednesday.   The photograph is the Whyalla shore taken from the Lookout on the Hill. I think it was taken only a few days ago when we had some sun between the rain. I took some photographs down at the wetlands of the birds and the ducks. Haven’t sorted them out yet. Benji is having a hard time at the moment. We have not been out for a walk this morning. I will detail this in another post.

 

Things Fall Apart

The car at Drysdale.
The car at Drysdale.

Having got the car home at the weekend I  booked it into the garage for repairs and service on Monday afternoon. It was returned to me yesterday afternoon ( Tuesday) repaired and serviced. It was mainly ignition problems which meant a new ignition coil assembly and a new set of high tension ignition wires. A few things besides plus a general service and new spark plugs. So the car seems to be running well, but no trips for a little while. I did call the clerk and asked if there were any papers I needed to have or anything I need to be aware of arising out of the meeting I missed. He will send me copies of the paperwork and I’ll send him  copies of the Annual General Meeting Report. I know that one of the issues discussed was the introduction of SKYPE as a means of conducting the meetings. I objected to this last time it came up and I  will object to it again, and fortunately, I am not alone in this. Those who advocate Skype do so on the basis of use for small meetings or the fact that they call their children inter-state several times a week and the system works well. Yes it does for small meetings and for individuals but in our case I do not believe that Skype should be used as it is a poor substitute for face to face meetings and useless in determining the overall mood of the meeting and at times body language is as important as the spoken word in determining the mood of the meeting. Anyway, that’s part of my view and I have no doubt the issue will be raised again in August.

The news from the Administrator of Arrium, however, is not quite so good. It is now generally believed that Arrium will be broken up and sold off. Much of the Arrium holdings are profitable but the steelworks is running at a loss and is responsible for much of the current debt. The University of Flinders have produced a projected  model of the consequences of the demise and loss of the steelworks to the region and the State.  The immediate consequence would be the loss of some 3500 jobs, but then there are the suppliers and contractors and the businesses  that supply Arrium locally – about 4000 jobs locally and regionally – so overall about 7500+ jobs. The financial consequences to  Whyalla and surrounds would be the loss of half a billion dollars in revenue. The consequences to the State is estimate at $800 Million in lost revenue. But according to Arrium there are two sides to Arrium – the good Arrium which has mining interests and two electric arc

The Steelworks ( not my photograph)
The Steelworks ( not my photograph)

furnaces on the East Coast that produce steel products and makes good profits selling these to the construction industry. The Bad Arrium is the Whyalla Steelworks and the South Australian Mining Operations that are burning cash faster than the Good Arrium ( Moly-Cop) can generate it. One of our major hotels has closed down and gone into liquidation as a direct consequence of the Arrium Debacle – it was the preferred hotel for visiting staff, for Arrium Functions and various courses. It had become dependent on Arrium for the majority of its business and revenue, so when Arrium  went into administration the hotel lost its main source of revenue. The banks are – at this stage – opposed to any plan that means the closure of the Steelworks – understandable self interest. What has been calculated is the proposed loss of revenue locally and State, but what has not been calculated is the loss to the banks – the actual money owed by Arrium aside.  There are hundreds of families, these families have mortgages, have loans, have credit cards. If the steelworks were to close and all these people were without jobs – and given the state of Arrium it would be unlikely that they would get anything near their redundancy entitlements – people unable to pay their mortgage. What happens? does the bank take control of this property? Well yes, I guess so. Does this then mean that the banks now have millions of dollars in property that no one wants- well can’t afford. Given that in the late 1970s / early 1980s  when BHP Steel were in trouble – the shipyards closed and the steelworks contracted, we went from a population of 36,000 to about 23,000 – the same could happen again. The Administrator suggests that  the South Australian  operation s – Steelworks and Iron Ore Mines – could be up for sale in July and he hopes to see Arrium out of the hands of an Administrator by Christmas. I sincerely hope so.

Our woes continue

Do not believe anyone who tells you that small dogs – such as a small  Chihuahua (short coat) are a push over. Having had this little one for 36 hours I can tell you that her teeth are like needles. I am just praying that  a) she settles down soon and b) that we don’t run out of bandaids for my poor fingers. I understand – it is scary for her, her momma has gone, she is with strangers and they have a great BIG dog ( well to her he’s big) and this is a scary big place. I  did feed her this morning and although I got a ‘back off’ kind of a growl, I did managed to scratch an ear without having my fingers covered in blood again. No they are not big bites, her teeth might be as sharp as needles but fortunately they are not big and besides I bleed a lot.

Sunday and she is starting to settle down and perhaps tomorrow I might remove the bandaids. If nothing else it will help in not having to type  words twice due to the mistakes I am making because of the bandaids on the tops of my fingers- and stop laughing, this is serious!! Anyway, from one to three dogs in one fell swoop. Benji, Kongsoon and now Yogi, Benji is, of course, our boy, Kongsoon is the little one that we have taken in and Yogi is a friend’s dog we are looking after for a week or so. I hope I survive. It’s just unfortunate timing. We had arranged to take Yogi months ago, but the collapse of Link Engineering and the problems with Arrium meant that people lost jobs and  we took in Kongsoon because her family has to go back to South Korea and re-apply. Link Engineering was their sponsor and their employer.  They could have re-applied here but the danger with that is that if it was refused they would have to leave the country and be unable to reapply for three years. By going back to South Korea on their own and re-applying there, if it is refused, they can apply again in six months.  Immigration rules I do not understand..

Some of the subcontractors and suppliers are back in the plant but others who have biggish projects  have had their contracts terminated by the Administrator because in the present climate he cannot justify the expenditure.  Logicamms is one of those.  Logicamms have  contracted for a new large project in Adelaide and Andrew will be doing work for that. At the moment  material and design specs will be sent up but that’s only short term – long term they want Andrew to consider re-locating to Adelaide. There has been what has been called a Bloodless Coup at Arrium.  The Company (Arrium) appointed its own Administrator  and he has been working with the  the government, the local community and the creditors to stabilize Arrium and see what can be done to  keep the company operating.  The banks and the AWU (Australian Workers Union)  were unhappy with this and, despite being warned by the government to stay out of it ( which they ignored) moved in, sacked the  Arrium appointed Administrator, appointed their own Administrator and, in essence, seized control of the company.  Robber Barons – generally known as Banks – and a Union working together – that’s scary.  The contractors are still in limbo and some are owed many thousands of dollars. Everything is an absolute mess but the new administrator is moving to reassure everyone that the intentions are good and they have the future of the company and the city as their foremost concern – but it’s still a mess and the creditors, mainly the banks,  are pushing for a forensic investigation of the Arrium Board’s  financial accounts.

**  Arrium’s wrathful lenders are working to convince the steelmaker’s latest administrator to bring forward a forensic investigation of the company’s accounts to assess whether or not there are grounds to pursue its past management or board of directors. The agreement between “incandescently furious” debt and bond holders and The Australian Workers’ Union that resulted in Monday’s change in administrators is said to include a concession that will bring forward a forensic assessment of the Arrium accounts.**  From the Financial Review.

 

Sad and doleful tidings

Well, things are going from bad to worse. An American company offered to bail out Arrium to the tune of $1.4 Billion Dollars – $950 million and the remainder raised by Arrium Shareholders. The financial backers and creditors of Arrium  rejected the deal and trading was halted on Arrium in the Australian Stock Market. It’s not looking good and there is now talk of the major banks and

Dick Smith - empty and gone.
Dick Smith – empty and gone.

creditors extending a $400 Million loan to Arrium to try and pay off some of its debts, but the sting in the tail is that the Banks and Creditors will appoint an Administrator. We have had politicians, senators and others here all day and there was  one thousand people strong rally and march through part of the town – mainly around the CBD and the main street. And no, I was not involved in either. I was at the hospital with Annabell and later in the afternoon  we had Benji at the Vet for a check-up. We don’t know about injections and I have not managed to get much information from the rescue people so what we decided is to leave him for the moment and in a few months we will give him the five-in-one injection. Overall his health is very good although I did get a bit of a slap on the wrist because he has put on weight since his first visit in  November of last year. I find this difficult because he is well exercised – walks close to 60 miles a week – with me – is not overfed and does not get a lot of treats. And it’s a walk, not a casual stroll – with a few stops along the way. Anyway, I’ll have to cut down his food intake a little and get his weight down. Today (Wednesday) is not helping since it has been chucking it down for most of the night and it’s still raining.

Our major employer – Arrium Mining – has gone into Voluntary  Administration with  debts of over $4 Billion,  $3 Billion of which is owed to the banks, over $1 Billion owed to other creditors and $500 million owed to the Staff. Things are not looking good and trading has been suspended. But what  gets me is that the management have run the place into the ground, it owes money everywhere, but somehow it’s the Government’s fault. And the reason it’s suddenly the government’s fault is that the Federal Treasures and the Prime Minister didn’t visit with their cheque book and  hand over a free of any interest cheque for $5 billion and bail the company and its management out right there and then. Well it probably is the government’s fault and I just don’t understand how these things work. Things are not looking so good and there is now open talk of a break-up of the group and parts being sold off. It is a very worrying time for everyone and $5 Billion is a lot to make up and  in order to save the company and 8,000 jobs, the major loss making steelworks may have to be sacrificed. On the news tonight the government pleaded with Arrium management not to put the company into Administration, but the banks put pressure on the management and they caved in and appointed an approved Administrator.  In these last few days I  have met some of the people who were with Link Engineering and have lost their jobs. One family was the son of one of our families at church.

Sooha and Kongsoon
Sooha and Kongsoon

The new lady dog will arrive tomorrow at 8am. Sooah and her husband have to clear out the house this weekend so she is bringing me the lady tomorrow. Her name is Kongsoon, which is not too bad. The name, I found out means  “Little Bean” Sooah is of the opinion that she is coming back so really we are only fostering her dog for a while – at least that’s the plan. We’ll see – I hope she is right but I have my doubts  at least for the present. Well, there you are! I thought we were safe since my son didn’t work for Arrium however, he is a Systems Engineer with Logicamms and now that Arrium is in Receivership all contracts have been suspended until further notice.  Arrium cannot pay the contractors until the Receiver has completed  his investigation and authorities the money to be paid. Andrew is still being paid, of course, but the company now has someone sitting around doing nothing – and getting paid. This being the case, they want him to go down to Adelaide and assist with some of the projects they have  down there  – at least until Arrium is up and running again and authorized to pay out the cash to its contractors. However, the company have asked him to consider re-locating to Adelaide. So the Arrium crisis is  having an effect on us.