My issue with Local Government

Brent Fleeton

Until Saturday, for the past five or so weeks, I spent most late afternoons and early evenings after work walking my local streets letterboxing a small summary of my basic policies along with instructions on how to vote in the 2013 local government election. 

I ran for a Council seat in West Ward in the City of Bayswater. I ran on three simple issues – lower rates, tangible policies to address the crime wave impacting on my local area (I am a recent victim of a home burglary) and streamlining local council planning approvals processes.  

Polling Day was Saturday and there is no denying this fact – I got flogged. I polled a whopping 380 votes out of 5,455 valid votes. 

However, I take three positive outcomes from this campaign: It gave me a better understanding of my local area; it taught me a lot more about the people who helped me and also about those involved in grassroots politics; and more people voted for me than they did for Darren Brown.  

Today, after hearing and reading about how it’s very distressing to some journalists in WA that the voter turnout was historically low and that the answer must be to force people to vote, I got to thinking about this issue of local council voter disengagement.

It didn’t take long for me to conclude that this really isn’t an issue at all, and to force people to vote is a stupid idea.

The more important issue we ought to be discussing at great length (and at much higher levels of government), and even though this never seems to be on the agenda, is how to address the drastic overreach by local governments. 

Don’t get me wrong, this average punter firmly believes state and federal governments in Australia have all drastically overstepped their boundaries. Let’s just focus on Local Government for now.

Did any journalist who contributed to the various columns conveying the collective dismay at the 20-30% turnout stop to consider that the reason that a vast majority of eligible people don’t vote in these elections may be because most common-sense people probably expect that the only matters their local council should be in charge of are lawns, roads and rubbish? 

Most people in my neighbourhood wouldn’t know that the 2013/2014 City of Bayswater Budget totalled spending of around $70million, and consisted of a taxation of local ratepayers of some $34million. This was through a rate increase of almost double that of inflation. During the Budget process, the City issued a press release stating this increase as ‘prudent’. It certainly was interesting rhetoric.

What’s my point? A good question!

When did local governments get the power to turn a small operation charged with the responsibility of fixing our roads, taking care of our local parks and gardens and collecting our garbage into a multi-million dollar ‘tax and spend’ machine, splurging ratepayers funds on hiring sustainability consultants and ‘buzz-word’ doctors, creating make-work programmes in the form of diversity and cultural projects and awarding often ridiculously generous grants for ‘art’ projects? Oh, and please don’t forget the annual contributions local governments pay to groups like WALGA and ALGA. These two lobby groups spent millions of dollars of ratepayers’ funds on a political advertising campaign for something which never occurred, but still won’t give the funds back to ratepayers. Hashtag integrity.

If we must spend money on hiring ‘sustainability’ consultants, I’d like to hire a sustainability consultant in the form of an accountant to first examine the ‘sustainability’ of the alarming rate at which local governments are taxing and spending ratepayer money. 

Unfortunately for those libertarians among us, our governing structure agreed upon at Federation created a monster. There is a solution, one which could possibly appease almost all who are concerned. However, it will be unappealing to those with less-than-solid intestinal fortitude. Local Government (in theory) answers to the State Government and only it can do something about this growing problem. I would like to see a genuine push by the WA Liberal-National Government, by the end of this term, to legislatively cap any future Local Government rate increases to that of CPI. If we can stop the ability for over-taxation, we can slowly stop the ever-expanding purview of local governments. 

This is what I call a ‘sustainable’ approach to local government.

In summary, I know fixing roads, mowing lawns and disposing of garbage costs my local council money, but its purview should end there. Local governments must be made to recognise, by way of state legislation if necessary, the unsustainable practice of ridiculous rate rises and over-the-top spending. If we were to force people to vote in local government elections, just to be able to say people are now ‘engaged’ with grassroots politics, we would fail to address these alarming issues with local government entirely. Compulsory voting on local government elections would give councils a mandate which could only lead to further over-government and over-taxation in our country. This would be a disastrous outcome for what little freedom is left in Australia.

Brent Fleeton

Committee Chair of Perth Young Professionals Inc.

Member of the WA Liberal Party Policy Committee

Bleating leftists – bad losers


Terpstra

EXCLUSIVE:

Abbott’s daughters can’t win in white

B.P. Terpstra

The feminist Van Badham claims that, “Australians got to see a lot of the Abbott daughters, usually dressed in white, over the course of the campaign.”  Which raises two questions: where’s the evidence. And, does it matter anyway? 

I do feel that some commentators are trying just a tad too hard. 

For example, Research Fellow in the Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention at Deakin University, Dr Michelle Smith, describes Abbott’s recent victory speech as “striking” because his three daughters were “coordinated in white dresses.” Seriously. 

As the clearly imaginative Smith saw things, “Though the short hemlines and tight fit would be out of place at a Catholic First Communion, the connotations of religious faith and female moral purity were unmistakeable.”

In other words, then, the Abbott daughters look both religious and irreligious. They can’t win! 

Writing for The Guardian, Jeff Sparrow observed that “the Abbott offspring” (his term) “were front and centre at” the “Liberal victory party, parading in virginal white.” 

Still, what choices did they have now? Harlot red? Whorish green? Butch brown? Girlygirl pink? Of course, Laborites wear just plain white, but young Liberal women parade around in “virginal white” stress pop psychologists. 

Reminding us yet again that leftwing women are good at putting other women down, News Limited’s Tory Shepherd tweeted,  “Abbott daughters all in white AGAIN! Is it a virginal thing???” 

For the Abbott women must not wear white, unless they have permission from the hardLeft. After all, it could be construed as both sexual and antisexual, kind of like being both antireligious and religious at the same time.

Not to be outdone, however, web editor, Ben Cohen tweeted: “Abbott’s daughters in matching white virginal dresses is like watching some Mormon convention. But worse.” Yet, like most critics, he didn’t suggest what they should wear and why. 

Underpinning so many of these criticisms, are, of course, deeply held prejudices against both religious parents and their children, regardless of their personal positions. Indeed, it’s a feature of our establishment. 

They could have congratulated Abbott on his historical victory. Instead, they chose to attack his daughters revealing their own gender issues in the process. 

They could have congratulated Abbott’s daughters for joining Tony’s campaign. Instead, they mocked them, as if they were expected to remain behind closed doors. You see, nothing succeeds like hypocrisy in establishment circles. But where’s the outrage? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudd was right

Exclusive:

Perkin-Warbeck

I never thought I would say it or even think it but, there it is, Kevin Rudd was right.

He said before the election that he could rely on the good sense of Australians to make the correct decision – and they did.

Former Labor Prime Ministers seem to have the gift of being right retrospectively. Bob Hawke memorably said after the election debacle that the ALP had consistently under-estimated Tony Abbott – and he is right.

Amid all of the activity of the incoming Coalition Government, it is vaguely surreal to remember that Rudd is still the PM and all of his Ministers are still Ministers and will be probably until next week. Not that anybody in the public service is taking their calls, even if they wanted to ring up and say goodbye.

Meanwhile, the ALP is busy at its very favourite blood sport – devouring each other as the fight over the spoils of defeat heats up.

One of Rudd’s senior Ministers Kim Carr has said he has spoken to Dear Leader since the election and believes that Rudd will stay on in Parliament. “He’s made it very clear to me that his intention is to get on with being the Member for Griffith and get on with representing his electors and I’ve no doubt that his intention is to stay,” Carr said.

That bit of news must really cheer up what remains of the caucus. Perhaps Rudd will hang around like Billy McMahon who, having been defeated as PM in 1972 by Gough Whitlam, stayed on in Parliament for another ten years. McMahon increasingly became an eccentric figure of fun to everybody so there is a very real chance Rudd will also – if he isn’t already.

There is no shortage of Labor folks who have gone public since the defeat and some of them – actually a lot of them – have been bitterly scathing of Rudd.

Retired ex Minister Craig Emerson who refused to serve under Rudd and quit Parliament has finally blown the whistle on who was responsible for the damaging leaks about Julia Gillard in the 2010 election – and, yes, he points his finger at Rudd. What a surprise!

He added, “Any one who does that, who is hell-bent on revenge, who is so destructive, as to depress the Labor vote in the 2010 election shouldn’t be rewarded for this sort of behaviour.”

Emerson said Rudd had been “deceitful” when he said repeatedly that he would not take the leadership from Gillard and, for good measure, added, “That was a lie at the time, it’s been proved to be a lie.”

“It’s always been about Kevin – always has been, always will be and as a consequence the new Opposition Leader would be stabilised by Kevin Rudd staying in Parliament,” said Emerson. No doubt he felt a good deal better having got that off his chest.

It should be remembered that the ALP vote when it won under Rudd in 2007 was 43.4% – in 2010 under Rudd it was 33.8%. It’s quite an achievement to loose that many votes in six years. Even when Howard was defeated in 2007, the Coalition vote was 42%.

Outgoing Minister Kate Lundy believes Rudd should quit Parliament even if it means risking a by-election in Rudd’s seat. She said “renewal” could not happen if Rudd hung about on the backbench adding, “I think that it is always better to rebuild in an environment free of the ghosts of past Leaders.”

MP Laurie Ferguson said he agreed with Emerson that Rudd had undermined former Leaders Kim Beazley, Mark Latham, Simon Crean and Julia Gillard. Just for good measure he might have added Gough Whitlam and Arthur Calwell to that list because it’s not impossible to conjecture that schoolboy Rudd would have been telling everybody who bothered to listen then that he would be infinitely better.

Ferguson even helpfully suggested a new career for Rudd “researching Qing dynasty porcelain or something like that.” Perhaps, subliminally, Ferguson was thinking about a bull in a china shop and all of that terrible destruction.

Retired MP Steve Gibbons said that Rudd was treacherous while the Victorian Labor Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews described his Federal colleagues as a “toxic soap opera.”

No doubt there will be more wanting to vent their spleen. It all will be hugely entertaining because if there is one thing the ALP is in, it is the world-class, gold-medal winning category of bitching about each other. 

Outgoing Education Minister Bill Shorten will be the candidate for Leader and there is speculation that outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will also stand. Caucus meets on Friday and, no doubt, that will be the hot topic.

While Shorten from the Victoria Right faction has the numbers in caucus, Albanese is from the left and it seems would have the numbers in the more left-inclined grass roots.

Under the new rules, caucus gets 50% of the vote for Leader while the ALP membership gets 50%. There are allegedly about 44,000 ALP members but for some curiously unexplained reason, only about 30,000 would be eligible to vote.

But what we do know for sure that it is time for Rudd to finally, at long last and this time for good is to “zip”.

Sex Party could help Pauline slip into senate

While Labor seems to be sailing to a fate similar to the original Titanic come September 7, a swirling maelstrom of murky Senate preference deals could provide life jackets to a very mixed bag of Senate hopefuls including Pauline Hanson, writes John Mikkelsen 

Read More

Special delivery for Tony Burke

Image0055Dear Mr Tony,

please sir have this present for all you done make us people smugglers plenty money. It is make from old boats not burned by your navy and decorate by lovely refugee ladies.

We are plenty worry you have arse kicked in saturday election and new man Rabbit stop our good business that make rich.

Please Mr tony you be very alert with boat, it not good for water because big hole in arse make sinking happen. If your bed sink, call Australian Navy. I make joke like Mr Rudd!

If you not have place in your house for this present your Mr Morrison man give you plenty money for buyback plan. If new Rabbit boss no good you put family and plenty labor friends on bed-boat and come to my house. We make plenty rich doing more people smugglers business.

Your friends, 

Captain Ali-bin-bildin-lotsaboats.

C/- Ali's aussie-tours, Bilgewater Indonesia

Political campaigns today and tomorrow

New MH2

Presumed to be of national importance to us by the ABC just days before polling was a cooking contest of sorts when Rudd and Abbott on different days cooked something in their kitchens while being surreptitiously grilled by Kitchen Cabinet host and Fairfax scribe Ms Crabb.

Slowly but surely Australian politics pursue the American presidential election style of leader adulation. The man is all—policies be damned.

The ABC cosy kitchen clutch paid for by you involved the families of our two major leaders. Why not, election 2013 has been an all-in-the-family affair?

This 2013 Rudd/Abbott election contest has travelled down that “presidential” road further than ever before by pushing their children into the glare and scrutiny of a predatory media. The effects of which may not be seen immediately but can and does have destructive outcomes if not a few nasty surprises for the parents.

Leadership aspirants parading their children as political props puts to practice the self confessed liar Graham Richardson’s infamous maxim, “what ever it takes.” Are we the voters so intellectually stunted to fall for the cloying annoyance of candidates kissing the heads of babies, patting dogs, and feigning concern before semi-conscious dementia patients in nursing homes?

When was it decided that vacuous promises of the undeliverable from politicians would become believable when joined by their sons or daughters professing the decency of their father? And, with sexism from the fables it’s no accident that spin-doctors prefer girls to boys for best effect. No doubt influenced from their days in kindy; “Little boys are made from snips and snails and puppy dog tails and little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice.” Stop right there!

Those who seek to run this nation should have the credentials and the confidence to woo their voters with hope inspiring “truths” for a better future. Traipsing around the hustings with spouse and children in tow is supposed to prove what? Nothing at all to do with running a country for my money. We are electing the person, not the entire family—I think!

Furthermore, children don’t always make their parents proud as poor Bob Hawke learned through his drug-addicted daughter. And the reverse when Bob unceremonious dumped his ever-faithful wife Hazel. But the old bodgie pulled a rabbit with his sobbing theatrics on national television presenting a new age “sensitive” bloke—it worked.

The children of famous and influential parents need to consider the possible effects that psychiatrists call collateral damage when the pressure of fame and media glitz goes wrong.

Michael Jackson, now there’s an example known to all on earth—what more can be said? And, the star of “Home Alone” Macaulay Culkin who disappointed his folks when he received three one-year suspended prison terms and forced enrolment into a probationary drug treatment program. He looked so perfectly innocent, didn’t he?

Drew Barrymore, the American actress film director, screenwriter, producer, and model. Drew was big worry for her parents when she began boozing at age eleven and smoking marijuana at 12. She was hooked on cocaine by her teens and attempted suicide at age 14. Too much pressure her parents thought.

Paris Hilton started her career as a model at 19. In 2010 she was arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession in Las Vegas and copped a one-year probation and community service that I don’t think included her homemade sex video that went viral. What might her parents have thought?

Of course, politicians carting their kids around for subliminal advantage is not harmful in most cases. Such exposure often presents career opportunities unavailable to many, if not the taste for politics that becomes a family tradition—a tradition quite common in Australian politics.

However, as the multicultural state increases within our society I take a humorous peek to the future. If the family involvement stunt continues, campaign announcements promise to be rather animated affairs—especially so for a Moslem candidate.

“Ladies and gentlemen I bring you leader of the opposition Yousef Ali, the man who wants to be your prime minister. Also on stage are his four wives and just in front are their 32 sons and daughters who know their dad is wonderful, if not a very busy husband and father, and brother, and grandson, and nephew, and…gee whiz, there’s a lot of them here today.

“In the second, to fifth rows are their lovely children of which 143 are now in school. The girls are the ones covered in black. How about a big hand for this close family. And not to be forgotten in the five tour busses, the blue ones in the parking lot, are the family elders who will be serving traditional camel burgers and fried scorpions to anyone feeling hungry after Yousef presents his exciting vision for an “inclusive Australia.”

And don’t worry about making a mess today folks as Kevin and Tony’s families have been hired to clean up when you leave.”

Through the eyes of an indigenous

Labor's track record is no good for First Australians

EXCLUSIVE:

by Jack Andrew Wilkie-Jans

The Australian Labor Party has had a terrible recent track record when it comes to dealing with Australia's First Peoples.

In spite of the inspiring efforts made by the ALP, supported by the LNP, such as Keating's famous Redfern speech and Rudd's national apology, we as the First People of Australia have seen some poor treatment and severe underestimating of us by the current ALP government when it comes to their way of deciding for, not doing with, when it comes to policy making and implementation regarding First Australians across the wider & diverse regions of Australia.

The ALP have given us an intervention policy in the Northern Territory in such a state that it has completely exceeded the former Howard government’s expectations to see results, and have failed to implement any new initiatives in those regions covered under intervention policy such as business ventures or remote education facilities which would see these areas thrive and break free from the curses which brought about the apparent need for intervention initially. This inaction has maintained and strengthened what I call out as typical Labor paternalism, leading to dangerous apartheid likened attitudes within their Macklin led, Department of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Under Howard the intervention was designed with the ambition of an expiry date, however under a federal Labor government, that date seems a long time coming.

The former ALP Prime Minister, The Hon. Julia Gillard MP, even threatened the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister, The Hon. Adam Giles MLA, that her Labor government would withhold funding to his government if they did not sign up to the National Plan for School Improvement (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/pm-to-nt-reverse-cuts-and-sign-school-plan-or-lose-out/story-fn59niix-1226667830301) in an approach so meddlesome that it is unprecedented and which uses Territorians as political pawns.

In Queensland the former Bligh Government implemented the Alcohol Management Plans as a means to raise revenue for their underfunded Police force, with no service implementation and genuine, grass-roots capacity building by the State Government for Aboriginal towns in Cape York to truly overcome substance abuse and misuse, the AMP policy was destined be little more than a means for Labor to exercise their paternalism and control over the First Peoples of Australia in the state of Queensland. The new LNP government in Queensland are currently reviewing the necessity of and outcomes of the AMPs thus far.

In the federal seat of Leichhardt, the local ALP branches pre-selected Pastor Norman Miller as their candidate to contest the seat against incumbent The Hon. Warren Entsch MP, the Chief Opposition Whip (LNP), however the Union bosses upstairs had other notions. As Gillard did to Crossin, they did to Miller. In true ALP fashion, the big wigs stepped on their party’s democratic processes and Norman Miller was ousted from the candidate’s position and Billy Gordon was given the candidacy. Gordon has made very few attempts this campaign to visit the remote towns of Cape York Peninsular while the Western Cape has seen more of the Opposition Leader, The Hon. Tony Abbott MP, in the region than any other Labor minister with the last Prime Minister to visit the Western Cape being former Coalition Prime Minister The Hon. John Howard OM AC SSI.

Clearly the LNP/Coalition while having been Her Majesty’s Opposition for six years have maintained a rigorous effort to represent and pay attention to First Australians living remotely- and as far from Canberra as the Western Cape of Cape York Peninsular. While I do not fully agree with the bipartisan policy to link education and service delivery in remote Aboriginal towns to Noel Pearson’s ‘Jawun Empowered Communities Initiative’, it is at least showing us that the Opposition Leader is prepared to mention Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in his election campaign, where in Rudd’s we as the First People of Australia, haven’t even got a look in. While I acknowledge that the Jawun ‘initiative’ is supported by both of the major political parties it was Mr Abbott who spearheaded it to the national press, and while disagreeing with it, I fully congratulate Mr Abbott on having the bravery to sit down with fellow First Australians and discuss our issues in a way that earned those discussions national headlines. In contrast the ALP have crickets chirping during their policy discussions when people mention the word ‘Aborigines’. 

I’m looking forward to a country where policy relating to First Australians isn’t plagued by paternalism. With a change of government we will see a change of approach with the way governments relate with First Australians. Under a Coalition government I have full confidence that the approach we will see with be ground up, directed at local people for local people with government playing the role of partner and facilitator not nanny with people, not politics, as the main agenda.

Jack is a contemporary Aboriginal artist from the Western Cape (Queensland) and a Traditional Owner of the Teppathiggi and Tjungundji tribes of the Mapoon region.

Why I voted for Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson

Terpstra

EXCLUSIVE:

B P Terpstra

On Saturday afternoon, I shook hands with Liberal candidate for Corangamite Sarah Henderson outside a prepolling centre. But it wasn’t her good handshaking skills that impressed me the most. 

To be sure, Henderson, a trained journalist and acclaimed reporter, has excellent people skills. However, I was very impressed by the fact that a candidate took the time to respond to my emails, her support for stronger borders and the Coalition’s commitment to strengthening families. It’s why I voted for Sarah.

I was impressed by Henderson’s commitment to abolishing Labor’s jobdestroying carbon tax too. Why? Because here in the ultramarginal seat of Corangamite there’s a strong sense that Labor duped us. The ALP delivered a carbon tax we didn’t approve of. 

Obviously, living in an ultramarginal seat means that I’m paying more attention to local politics these days, and the fact that Darren Cheeseman MP’s ALP hasn’t delivered one healthy budget in years is a worry. 

We deserve better. 

I live on a dirt road.  But there’s more. To add insult to serious injury, I often turn right into a “real road” with potholes, a Third World situation that needs remedying thanks to years of Labor neglect. 

Also, for the record, I don’t vote along gender lines. Still I recognise there’s a difference between Coalition women and Labor women. In the ALP, for example, many women are the beneficiaries of a patronising quota system whereas Liberal women are judged by their fruits. 

Interestingly, when asked about her role model last week, Sarah Henderson had this to say

I am a bit biased but I was a great admirer of my mother Ann Henderson. She really was my mentor. She was the member for Geelong from 1992 to 1999 and she was the Minister for Housing and Aboriginal Affairs from 1996 – 1999 and she was just one of those women who just got on and got things done. So she was greatly loved by people from all sides of politics. She drove the revitalisation of Geelong waterfront. That certainly is her lasting legacy and we know how important that is to Geelong now. So I have to say she was my great mentor and someone obviously who I admire very much as a politician. 

In my view, real results matter more than slogans. And, did I say that Sarah Henderson is good at handshaking?

Essential research – enriching Australia

EXCLUSIVE:

 by Quentin Hepworth

It seems that come next Monday, Tony Abbott and his brand new Government will be having a long, long look at the activities of the Australian Research Council, the government outfit that hands out $900 million a year in taxpayers’ dosh to what it considers essential research that will enrich Australia.

It seems that the Coalition isn’t all that terribly impressed with what the ARC has been doing – well, at least some of the time.

Curiously enough, the Coalition thinks it might be a good idea to redirect some of this money to research into dementia and diabetes and other similarly trifling matters.

They question, for example, the allocation of more than $1 million into philosophical studies including the use of “I” through a retrospective study of 18th and 19th century German existentialists and the granting of $160,000 to examine “Sexuality in Islamic interpretations of reproductive health technologies in Egypt” – not to mention an RMIT study called “Spatial Dialogues: Public Art and Climate Change” which is exploring how people can adapt to climate change through public art.

There is more than a hint of the uncultured plebeian about this. It seems they can’t – unlike the ARC – think outside the box. Let me explain.

I have done some research and, may I add, in my own time and at my own expense and uncovered some essential facts which put these critical projects into proper perspective.

It was at the Beenleigh RSL in Forde where Peter Beattie is flying Kevin’s flag that I eves-dropped on a fascinating discussion between two old diggers about the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. They were deep in profound conversation about Nietzsche’s criticism of traditional metaphysical and moral assumptions and his espousal of tragic pessimism and his rejection of the entire Judea-Christian moral tradition in favour of a heroic pagan ideal. Understandably, it took a real effort of will to stop me from interrupting them with the news about the ARC-funded project and how critical that would be to settling their dispute.

In any case, their chat petered out when one mentioned the long delay he was experiencing getting a hip replacement.

When it comes to reproductive health technologies in Egypt and all of that it has to be faced, in the context of our dialogue with the Middle East and the underlying assumptions about feminism in Islam, that this is not just a vital project but that it is probably appallingly under-funded. Kevin would understand this.

Obviously the RMIT public art and climate change project ranks as a high priority. Many is the time I have been caught in an open public place by a sudden downpour and wished fervently that there was some appropriate artwork under which I could shelter – something which ordinary people might call a “roof”. 

The ARC boasts that it only hands out money after applications are “independently assessed under strict guidelines” and we couldn’t ask for more.

The ARC has got a long way to go by international standards in funding serious research.

I was intrigued to learn about one project from the UK, “The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Anas platyrhnchos (Aves: Anatidae)” which discovered male mallards “mount and copulate with great force” the corpses of other male mallards. I can guess that in this case they are grateful for being, literally, dead ducks.

One fascinating project elsewhere, “Ovulatory Cycle Effects on the Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus” which, I think, concluded by finding – and what a surprise this was! – that the more lap dancers wriggle provocatively, the more tips they get. It’s a wild stab in the dark but I guess it was an all-male research team and that they were selfless in the cause of scientific research.

An intrepid Japanese researcher, with more than just a yen but, rather, millions of yen, has found a way to extract vanilla from cow dung. I’m not sure I can face your ordinary ice-cream again with equanimity and now I’m wondering what they use to make ice-cream look and taste like chocolate.

And let us not forget the trail-blazing research which discovered, well suggested anyway – that penguins can squirt their poo up to 40cm. There was a caveat to this: “Whether the bird deliberately chooses the direction into which it decides to expel its faeces or whether this depends on the direction from which the wind blows at the time of the evacuation are questions that need to be addressed on another expedition to Antartica”. Of course they are.

Perhaps the researchers, in a scientific choir, sang Bob Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind” while dodging flying penguin poo.

If you think that Australian Government outfits are far too sensible to fall for this sort of nonsense consider this: In 2001, John Keogh of Dandenong in Victoria applied for a patent for the wheel, Yes, the wheel. The Australian Patent Office – IP Australia – actually granted him an “Innovation Patent #2001100012” for his “circular transportation facilitation device” which, it seems, could have “wide applicability in the transport of goods and persons from one point to another.” 

Gosh!

And this happened during the Howard Government – now there’s a last minute issue for Kevin to exploit.