Monday, May 31, 2010


To be called a man of steel used to be a great compliment. The most powerful man in the world ,George Dubya Bush, himself an amalgam of cheap gunmetal , fool’s gold and toasted Texan marshmallow, once said our Prime Minister, John Howard , former US Deputy Sheriff of South- East Asia, was a man of steel . Unfortunately , Little Johnny went rusty at the Bennelong U-bend and ended up on the A. G. Sims political scrapheap. Maybe the Mad Monk knew something when he said he just wanted to be regarded as a (pig ?) iron man?

While Australia’s iron ore is feeding the voracious steel mills of China, some of the products made from it are poor quality. Tradesmen and handypersons have reported that heads are falling off screws, drill bits are not only snapping, but bending under slight pressure. Some honest hardware store staff even tell you a certain made in China tool or appliance is less than impressive . One wonders what the steel is like in whitegoods and so many other household appliances made in China which flood the world’s markets. It is to be hoped that all that structural steel used in Chinese skyscrapers is of better quality than that in some of the building aids sold in Australian .

Friday, May 28, 2010


Chief Minister Paul Henderson got more than an ALP charcoal burger when he went along to a sausage sizzle . An irate person cornered him and for half an hour filled him in on the strange shenanigans in a major part of Darwin’s infrastructure. Henderson is not the only pollie to be forthrightly told about what has been going on . The Opposition in this town has also been given the same information but is so incompetent , green or lacking in advisors with savvy , as shown by its handling of other major issues, that it was unable to capitalize on the situation in the recent sitting of the Legislative Assembly or in other obvious ways.


Malcolm Fraser's transformation from that tall, aloof looking PM, dubbed the Crazy Grazier, into the present apparent statesman who has resigned from the Liberal Party is a surprising turn in his political journey. Along the way, he lost his trousers in America in one of the great unsolved political mysteries and had to sell his pastoral property, Nareen , where dung beetles refused to breed for some unfathomable reason.

One of the truly bizarre events during his reign took place in Darwin in 1978. The autocratic looking PM sat on a dais in Mitchell Street at the start of a public function, part of the pomp and ceremony connected with the official opening of the Legislative Assembly. Those involved in the event included Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen, Deputy Prime Minister , Doug Anthony, parliamentary delegations from various states, former NT Administrators and other VIPs . Earlier in the day there had been a protest rally in the nearby park where speakers objected about rising unemployment and the high cost of living .

A section of the crowd, some carrying anti-Fraser and anti-uranium mining placards , later gathered outside the Legislative Assembly and hooted as politicians arrived . The PM, his daughter beside him on the platform, stared straight ahead during the uproar. Jeering broke out when Chief Minister, Paul “Porky ” Everingham , arrived and he responded with a Churchillian gesture , which caused more yelling. Hecklers asked why Andrew Peacock was absent , and advised Billy McMahon to watch his back.

Then Sir Zelman arrived in a limo and a chant went up for him to sack Prime Minister Fraser. As Sir Zelman began inspecting the naval guard of honour , there was an increase in shouting and eggs were thrown. In the subsequent address in reply in the Assembly , Everingham said he had been booed when he arrived outside, which was “ fair enough.” It had actually made him “rather proud” to be rhubarbed by “scum” such as that. The PM had received the same reception . However, in the case of the treatment handed out to the Governor-General , Everingham expressed indignation:-

There were words that came from those people that would really curl your hair. Can I quote words which I understand an ABC reporter managed to get on tape from one of the demonstrators over round the red flag ? This was whilst His Excellency , the Governor-General, was inspecting the guard of honour and eggs were being thrown by those yobs at the Governor-General. Servicemen were standing there on parade under instructions to hold fast and wishing , probably with every fibre of their being, to turn round and hoe into those cowardly demonstrators who threw eggs at them. These are the words that came from the crowd to the Governor-General : “ You little mongrel Jew bastard ” and , “Why don’t you get your foreskin cut off?”. Those are the sort of people who were demonstrating here in front of the Assembly.

The Independent Member for Nightcliff, Ms Dawn Lawrie, said the honourable Chief Minister had used words which brought no credit to the Assembly , even if repeating other people’s views. He had also called certain members of the Territory “ scum” and “yobs”. In respect of the insults hurled at the Governor-General re him being Jewish , Lawrie said remarks such as that were not the prerogative of any particular party or any particular section of community. Similar comments had been directed at her ( surely not in regards of circumcision ? ) by the most conservative elements of the community. In a democracy, people had the right to protest strongly, within reasonable bounds.

At that street ceremony , Prime Minister Fraser , who had lost the respect of many of those in the crowd, had been heckled . If it had been Gough Whitlam addressing the crowd , some people would have shouted, “ You big fool , down with Gough !” Anybody in public office should expect that kind of treatment, she added. It was not necessarily being disloyal , but it was very democratic . An extreme utterance by any individual could provide a ready made platform for ultra-conservatives in society to say –“Ban them, garotte them, kill them !. They must be all bad !”

A certain unseemly passage in the address in reply may have been expunged from the copy sent to the GG for the vice-regal archives as a souvenir of his exciting Darwin visit.

CITIZEN JOH : During the tea party on the Assembly lawn, Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen , held a media conference outside the toilet block and firmly told the chooks that Aboriginal land rights would ruin the NT. Deputy PM Doug Anthony tried to dissuade Joh from raining on the NT parade on such an important day . Pausing for a moment, Joh told reporters not to refer to him as the Queensland premier in the critical comment about land rights . “ Just say I am a concerned citizen ,” he instructed the journos.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The demanding nature of mining seems to make many involved in the industry tough hombres, scornful of governments and regulatory bodies. A journalist friend who once worked underground in a mine said the experience of pitting himself against the earth to yield its riches changed his nature . Down the mine, he , like the rest of the shift, swore like a trooper and there was a distinct, though hidden , element of fear. Listening to the shaft “talk” – make noises- put him on edge as it could be an indication of a looming rock fall. After work, at boisterous sessions with fellow miners, he drank more than he did when a member of the white collar brigade. Mining, he said, with a shake of his head, was a hard, bastard of a life .

Over the years , this writer has had contact with several top miners , including a long session with Lang Hancock in the Wentworth Hotel, Sydney. At the time , he was advocating the controversial view that nuclear explosives should be used in Australia to open new ports in the north and free vast quantities of ore. Only nukes could make some large , low grade ore deposits economically viable, he said .

During the interesting interview he proudly showed me a photograph of himself standing next to the head of a nuclear explosive built by Dr Edward Teller, father of the US hydrogen bomb and a leading light in development of the Cold War Polaris nuclear missile submarine, at an underground testing range in the US. Dr Teller visited Australia as a guest of Hancock and reportedly said a dose of Strontium 90 from nuclear testing fallout could be good for you.

Hancock was in the throas of launching the WA Paraburdoo iron ore project at the time . As a result of a newspaper article I wrote about him , I received a telephone call from an investment company saying it would be willing to lend him many millions of dollars , in several tranches, for the venture, information which I passed on .

Hancock’s annoyance with politicians was such that he backed a new political party , strangely called the Workers' Party, and flew into Darwin in his private jet to campaign for the local candidate, a miner. Hancock said the government no longer ran the country , claiming the expanded bureaucracy in Canberra , communist controlled unions , the manufacturing lobby and the media dictated Australia's course. Australia, he said, should open its doors to all foreign invesment and all restrictions on mining should be removed.
Hancock announced a plan to build a railway line across Australia taking WA Pilbara pig iron to the coking coal of Queensland. In 1979, his book, Wake Up Australia , was launched by Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Clearly, Hancock thought he could move heaven , lots of earth and governments. There is no doubt that he achieved the earth part of his ambition and undoubtedly influenced some governments. He eventually made his mark in the heavens when a new planet , discovered in 1993 by a Dr Candy , was named after Lang Hancock.

Whatever you might think about Hancock , the WA mining boom of the past 12 years , which recently helped shield us from the global downturn caused by the GFC , owes a lot to the single mindedness and vision of the man.

Frequently the media describes mining magnates and mine managers as tough, hard headed, ruthless, some with a take- no- prisoners style. The manager of a large NT mine had a reputation for being a no- nonsense kind of person. When I called on him and explained what I was about , he brusquely told me to sit down and I was privy to him firmly dealing with contractors, making himself abundantly clear in telephone calls , issuing precise instructions to the front office, swiftly dealing with paperwork . Much to my surprise, the manager announced it was lunch time and to come home with him.

There, away from the juggernaut mine which demanded constant attention and instant decisions , he was another person: urbane, effusive, with an interest in Australian history and literature . Any information I wanted then and thereafter was willingly provided once he had been able to judge me on the spot. My involvement with another powerful mine manager in Queensland involved informing him that his footloose teenage son , missing for some time, had turned up in Cairns and was fit and well .

Monday, May 24, 2010


The NT Health Department’s new radiation oncology residential centre in Darwin is expected to open in the near future. Selecting an appropriate person after whom to name the place is under consideration . It is understood that one of those on the list is the late Darwin journalist and author, Barbara James, who died of cancer.
Barb distinguished herself on TV by throwing her wig in the air when the ALP won government for the first time . Barbara raised the idea that a new federal NT electorate be named BOWDITCH , after the crusading NT News editor, James Frederick Bowditch. The move to honour the editor did not succeed , the electorate being named LINGIARI after Vincent Lingiari , of Wattie Creek , leader of the Gurindjis, for whom Bowditch fought and aided in many ways.
Barbara did, however, succeed in getting Big Jim listed in an international organisation as a journalist who contributed to the betterment of mankind.


The fiery parliamentary debate over the resources super tax is mild compared with a holy row which erupted in the Casuarina Centrelink office when a woman began singing hymns and telling sinners that God is mightier even than mining magnates. Carrying a backpack big enough to conceal the Pilbara iron ore deposits , the religious woman announced her arrival by declaring that God helps us cope with any situation , perhaps a reference to the Euro collapse, mounting sovereign debt fears, talk of a double dip recession, a possible Chinese real estate slump, pocket picking banks, the weakening Aussie dollar - to name but a few earthly afflictions.

She is the self same lady who figured in an early Waiting For Buso tale who told a busload of people that Darwinites lack intestinal fortitude because they did not speak out about noisy war games which result in ear splitting jets roaring over the city day and night .

In her latest confrontation with the satanic forces in sweaty Darwin , she burbled on and on about God , sang hymns, paused for a swig from a bottle of mineral water, and tried to engage people sitting nearby in conversation. A young woman told her to shut her f***ing mouth , that she did not want to listen to her. She called for God’s campaigner to be cast out of the building into the wilderness. A nervous security officer intervened and asked the crusader to please keep quiet .

This caused the devout woman to invoke the wrath of God upon Darwin . Pointing to Heaven, the religious lady warned the unfortunate security man that she would have to report what was taking place in the public waiting room and that God would come down and “ destroy ” the woman who swore at her. On hearing this dire prognostication , several people moved away, not wanting to be incinerated by bolts of lightning randomly unleashed across the nation by the Rio- Tinto boardroom in a bid to smite the Ruddites and their head Treasury infidel advisor, Henry the Hittite, whose favourite weapon is the razor sharp jawbone of an ass which can cut through two sets of books in one hit.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


An anonymous informant in a Darwin CBD carpark, late one night, passed on some startling information which was like a scene out of Watergate. In a raspy voice, standing in the dark so that he could not be recognized, wearing a trench coat, he said he could have sent the info via a letter, but he suffers from dyslexia and we would have had difficulty understanding his handwriting.

So his verbally delivered advice was that a Darwin inquiry was being treated like a Mushroom Club, kept in the dark and fed dairy dust. The inquiry, he alleged , had been given a doctored report relating to a pertinent , vital issue. The original report, which would throw great light on the matter, was now in a watertight container in Davy Jones's locker . According to our informant , the person responsible for pulling off the report trick did a celebratory Irish jig in his office . The authorities should demand the original report, provided by consultants, our Deep Throat advised, before slipping away into a crowd of Mitchell Street revellers.


This scribbler is of an age when I continually mix the names of my women , some simple words seem incorrectly spelt and I am not sure of the day and month . Rambling Bob Hawke would probably call me a silly old bugger.

The Northern Territory News contributes to my feeling that I am losing my marbles by consistently incorrectly spelling the name of the NT ALP secretary , Mark Whittaker . Bushranger this weekend said it was Whitaker . Just to make sure of my facts, I Googled his name and up came the ALP site with a cherubic photograph of WHITTAKER . In his biographical details it points out that he and wife Jacki are expecting their first baby in March 2010. I think the stalk/stork ( whichever is the correct spelling ) has already delivered a bundle of joy and the ALP site needs an update to cross its Ts and dot its Is .


In a major blow to Darwin’s tourist industry, the prehistoric Mandorah Monster has become allergic to the polluted local waters . On doctor’s orders , he is moving to Scotland to live with his long lost cousin, the Loch Ness Monster.

The 60 metre long , dragon-like creature , a refugee from Jurassic Park, used to frolic in the pristine waters near Mandorah . Now, due to the Larrakeyah poo shooter, ore spills and run off from polluted Lake Alexander , the poor beastie has broken out in unsightly blemishes. In addition, he has a nasty itch and a raw rash in the nether regions. Skin specialists attending a recent conference in Darwin refused to touch him with a barge pole, saying they thought he had caught an infection from outer space.

Our unpaid Mandorah correspondent, Donald Trump, says the Mandorah Monster is so repulsive-looking local real estate values have plunged, young children cry when they see him and ferry commuter numbers are way down .

Because of his diseased appearance , not one of the many dateless and desperate women who frequent Mitchell Street on a Saturday night will give the lonely monster a freebie French kiss. This makes him very angry , and he has had some monumental brawls with nightclub revellers, all of which he won , despite the tasers , harpoons , batons , tear gas and nets used in vain bids to subdue him.

Police patrolling the nightclub precinct get danger money every time the Mandorah Monster is seen slithering along the sidewalk sipping seaweed soda , winking at women.

On several occasions he has been found floating belly up in the harbour , overcome by toxic algal bloom, and only prompt action by the heroic RSPCA Sea Patrol unit saved him from drowning . Giving the kiss of life to a fire breathing dragon is extremely dangerous; several RSPCA officers have been burnt to a crisp , receiving posthumous medals for bravery and stupidity in the line of duty .

So that he will not startle people when he jets into Scotland , our iconic monster will wear a Clan McDuff kilt , a sporan made from the skin of 40 cane toads and carry a 10 metre caber to look like one of the locals. Entertainer Billy Connolly has predicted that our lonely Mandorah Monster will soon get the dirty Darwin water off his chest in the highlands posing for camera clicking tourists with Nessie in the yuk - free waterways.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


TRANSYLVANIA: Deep inside a dank , bat- filled cave, a mad scientist is frantically attempting to make a great big new monster to lead the Federal Coalition at the looming election . The situation is really desperate for the Tories as all other leader experiments with zombies have failed dismally. The latest grotesque creature is being made from the special DNA which the Mad Monk says is part of the make up of all true blue Liberals and Nationals.

Little Darwin has obtained the secret blueprint for the weird creature . Made in the image of a pretend honest leader , it is being built from odds and ends , starting with a large bag of wind. Stuck on its head is a wig which resembles Andrew Robb’s scarecrow hairdo. Its eyes appear to be Julie Bishop’s fetching glare . Naturally, the ears are those of Tony Abbott with a dash of Billy McMahon. There are elements of a certain rodent in the eyebrows and chin.

When it comes to the ticker , there could be a design fault here because it is modelled on the DNA of rubber faced Peter Costello who lost heart and departed. The monster will have the boarding school accent of Alexander Downer and the accounting skills of Barnacle Bill , still missing on a droving trip with Clancy of the Overflow on the Barcoo.

Taken out of mothballs, the double -breasted suit of the great Liberal leader, Sir Robert Menzies , will give the hulk added gravitas. When the great big new leader is out campaigning he will be armed with the Coalition’s iron bar with which to beat that ABC 7.30 Report fiend , “Red ” Kerry O’Brien , to a pulp before he can ask one embarrassing question.

Luckily for Darwin, this whopper new monster will not require a massive bolt of electricity like Frankenstein to bring it to life, so the power supply should be safe –unless a macho gecko swings on the transmission line like Tarzan. The nouveaux riche monster will be activated by a massive transfusion of blood and bile from kind mining company magnates . It will immediately spring to its feet , smiling like a Cheshire cat , and begin slapping people on the back and kissing petrified babies in shopping malls , causing them to break out in repulsive eczema .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


A so far unreported development in the Country Liberal camp has Terry Mills strongly convinced that he will still be leader of the party at the next election. For him , this is a happy development in the media soap opera speculation about challenges to his leadership. However, whatever the outcome of the election story , John Elferink is increasingly regarded as the successor to Mills, not rowdy Dave Tollner .

Sunday, May 16, 2010


When Aristotle Onassis was married to Jacqueline Kennedy boastful graffiti appeared in many places declaring GREEKS RULE THE WORLD . In Adelaide , there was a comic addendum to the message - AND PIGS FLY . If there were some reason for the message GREEKS RULE THE WORLD to appear today there would be dancing in the streets of Athens instead of demos.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Australia has a long history of its resources being exploited with little benefit for the common good. In the early days in the Northern Territory , large tracts of land were held by British pastoral companies who paid a peppercorn rental , almost nothing . In the 1930s, a former Federal Minister and NT Administrator , Aubrey Abbott , was critical of these landholders-Vestey’s in particular- who had control of vast areas of country , some bigger than European countries, employed few white staff , made almost no improvements and their managers lived in primitive dwellings.

Then when it came to the bauxite deposits at Gove , the Swiss pulled a swifty on us by engaging in transfer pricing . By this they sold the ore to themselves on the high seas at a low price , so the book profits were accordingly little, as were the payments to Australia. The bauxite was shipped to Iceland where the geothermal power was tapped at low cost to produce aluminium,described as a metal consisting almost entirely of electricity, at vast profits for the Gnomes of Zurich.

The Icelandic people increasingly came to the conclusion that the alumina company was getting the benefit of the cheap electricity, not the community . Current plans to expand alumina production there has residents up in arms over the likely damage to the countryside.

In the days when Japan was our main market for coal , Australian companies flew to Tokio to renew contracts. Each company received the Nippon equivalent of being duchessed and they were then played off against each other for the lowest price. In this way our resource went cheaply. The Federal government eventually woke up and insisted on a central price fixing mechanism for our coal.

Recently a CFMEU spokesman in WA said a resources tax was essential in Australia because the mining companies were making “ squillions” and much of this was going overseas . Company heads could be expected to squeal , but the government had to act. The windfall profits for some Australian mining companies in recent years had been astronomical.

Friday, May 14, 2010


LONDON : Here in Britain , Australians are regarded as capable of making good beer and wine. But when it comes to producing this city’s water supply , the Australian Macquarie Bank , once known as the millionaire makers bank , has been criticised. It bought Thames Water for billions during the heady pre- GFC days and when the crash came its overall business plan for global operations was found wanting . Over the years , it has flushed many Thames Water staff , especially ones with decades of faithful service, down the gurgler. Cost cutting became the order of the day , maintenance was pared back to make the books look good – a bit like the Territory’s Power and Water scenario before things went bang in the night and day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


(Samuel Beckett's never ending bus tour of Darwin and environs)
Another day, another bus , another character. He was conducting a stern conversation with an unfortunate fellow traveller - his reflection in the window.

Boarding a bus , my attention was soon drawn to a young couple , obviously depraved tourists , who engaged in a bout of steamy tongue kissing before alighting at the museum stop. Several stops along , a wild –eyed Aboriginal joined the trip and injected a scarry touch of Jaws into the journey. “Don’t go into the water !” he warned commuters . “There is something in the water that will kill you . Don’t go into the water . I’m fair dinkum. There is something in there that will kill you . I tell all tourists don’t go in the water, there are f****** crocodiles.”
In a shrill female voice , which sounded like a churchgoer responding to a jiving preacher in a Baptist tabernacle , a passenger responded, “ I believe you, brother .” At this stage, I expected the faithful to rise as one , clapping , stomping and gesticulating towards Heaven , loudly beseeching , “ Lordy! Lordy! Save us from dem savage NT News page one crocodiles !”

Encouraged, the man intent on keeping Darwin beaches clear of bathers , continued. “ Right! There is something in the water. Don’t go in the water - or you will end up in a body bag .” Sales of sun block and attendance at the Mindil Beach sunset market undoubtedly plummeted that month.


Mother’s Day has just been celebrated throughout Australia . In 1811, just 23 years after the first European settlement in Australia, an episode involving a woman created an outcry among colonists . With his wife’s consent, a Windsor man , near Sydney, put a halter round her neck , led her to a road and offered her for sale at 16 pound ($32) , a large sum in those days. As a result, her husband was sentenced to 50 lashes and three months hard labour in irons; the woman was sent to Newcastle and the purchaser lost his money.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


The casino nature of the global finance system is revealed yet again in spades when it is reported that “speculators” are gleefully gearing up to make a killing on the plunging Euro and the impact on stock exchanges. In other words, individuals, some of them heroes of the capitalist world, hedge funds and others, like jackals, are going to wage war on the financial and social well being not only of the the entire Euro Union but US, Britain and Australia.
Helping them make life miserable for millions of people and hinder trade are the wolves in sheep clothing, the ratings agencies which utterly failed to detect the global financial collapse when they gave banks and corporations-cooking the books with massive hidden investments and selling worthless paper- AAA ratings , thereby nearly bringing on a depression.
While the IMF and Euro bloc governments , especially France and Germany, were endeavouring to solve the serious Greek sovereign debt crisis, the ratings agencies did not help by giving Greece junk bond status . This contributed nothing to the international efforts being made to try and overcome the enormous problem with implications for other countries. It did, however, play into the hands of the speculators . So while honest open efforts were being made to salvage the Greek situation, the ratings agencies were, in effect, doing their best to undermine those steps and rattle the bourses.
The role, past performance, professionalism and scrutiny of ratings agencies is long overdue . They , as much as the the big, greedy dicks of Wall Street , have undermined the economic health and well - being of the world and mostly, so far, escaped scot free.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Following talks at a ministerial level, a high flyer returned to his office displaying the Colgate ring of confidence and told adoring staff that his job is safe. Attacks against him , he said, were due to a personal vendetta by a certain person. To show how confident he was of remaining at the top of the heap, he then launched a witchhunt to try and find the source of suspected leaks to the dreaded media.


The Larrakia Trade Training Centre Bulletin of April , delivered free far and wide, made this memorable quote: Inpex and Total have a strong track record of social responsibility to the communities where their projects are located world wide , and are particularly loyal in recognizing the Traditional Owners of the land. They could immediately see the benefits such a facility would bring to Darwin by shaping a new generation of skilled tradesmen and women .Through the Larrakia Trade Trading Centre , Inpex and Total will make an important contribution to the social and economic sustainability of the Darwin community.

[ Little Darwin previously pointed out that the French oil company Total is involved in energy projects with the brutal, illegal Burmese regime which includes a pipeline made by forced labour. Prime Minister Rudd recently called on China to re-examine its involvement with the Burmese regime which did not result in the obvious local angle follow up by the Darwin media .]

The financial newspaper , Les Echos, reported that Total had recently been accused of paying bribes to Iraqi officials to gain access to oil supplies ; the Sydney Morning Herald of April 6 ran a story headed TOTAL CHARGED WITH GRAFT IN IRAQI OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAMME.

The NT News has today carried a report that the Burmese National League for Democracy, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, has been dissolved by the illegal regime. The energy and spin still continues as does the oppression of the Burmese .

Friday, May 7, 2010


To attack the Rudd government, some members of that odd group, the Right Wing League of Gentlemen Pundits , employed by variations of the Psychoville Sycophant , have actually been saying nice things about Goff Whitlam when he was the prime minister. Whitlam, they say, had the courage of his convictions to call a double dissolution . In the past, Little Darwin pointed out that it had almost become fashionable for the right, especially its scribblers, to scoff at the Whitlam years and some members of the ALP tried to forget the great leader who led them out of the political wilderness.

Rudd , in dropping the ETS for the time being , is said to lack guts like Gough to stage a showdown and crash through or crash . Rudd, clearly, is not a Whitlam kind of action man. He’s more the academic- delivering the never ending thesis , enumerating point after point, big on ibids and footnotes, with an occasional squirt of rich red Fountain brand tomato sauce to show he is a regular guy. Several times, Rudd was in a position to call an election and annihilate the Coalition, but he did not. The widespread community dismay at deferring action against the greatest moral dilemma facing mankind and the mishandling of other issues has coagulated badly, damaged the government and , backed by the rivers of gold from the mining companies, will see the opposing side ranting even more stridently against anything and everything.

GROAN DEPARTMENT : Asked to name the last Australian prime minister to be knighted, a contestant in Who Wants to be a Millionaire recently stated it was Gough Whitlam. It was that drone Billy "Big Ears" McMahon.