AUSTRALIA

Don’t forget where this pain-in-the-arse disaster rolling over Sydney came from

Well, I nev-ah! This week your humble correspondent received a call from the National Crime Authority advising that it had “observed unusual activity” on my bank account, but felt sure it could sort it out for me if I would hand over my bank details. This seemed more than passing odd, given it already knew that swarthy thugs from drug cartels in polka dot bikinis had been riding camels through my account, or engaged in some equally “unusual activity”? I declined.

But mentioning it on Twitter brought forth a deluge of similar stories. Right now, it seems, such calls are the equivalent of the old Nigerian email scam. People purporting to be from variously, the ATO, Microsoft, Telstra, Amazon, NBN, Australia Post and myriad others, do cold calls and use any number of ruses to extract bank details. Some people have fun with it with one woman advising: “I usually say ‘What a coincidence! My husband works for your organisation. I’ll just put him on the phone and you can talk to him.’ They can’t hang up quickly enough.”

Newsreader Jim Dolan is regularly called by the “tax office in Byron Bay”. “I ask if they will take cash to settle my debt . . . and offer to meet them on the town hall steps at 10am. Wearing a red hat.”

Yes, yes, yes, a whole lot of fun. Until someone loses an eye!

As a public duty, surely we all need to warn some of the older and potentially more vulnerable citizens that these kinds of scams – which they can read about at scamwatch.gov.au – are about?

And we also need to have a gentle word with the bone-stupid and highly gullible, who will believe anything. Just no one tell Craig Kelly or Clive Palmer, ok? They deserve it . . .

If not racism, what was it?

Our erstwhile prime minister John Howard was on the ABC on Monday evening, being interviewed by Annabel Crabb and Nazeem Hussain when the subject turned to racism.

“I don’t think there is underlying racism in Australia.”

Hussain: “You don’t think there’s racism in Australia?”

Mr Howard: “No, I don’t.”

Hussain: “On reflection, would you characterise the Cronulla riots as racist?”

Mr Howard: “No, I don’t.”

A point of order, Mr Speaker, if I may? Over here, the Member for Bleeding Bloody Obvious.

Mr Howard, if the Cronulla riots were not driven by racism, what, pray tell were they driven by? It’s a serious question Mr Speaker, and I think it important that Mr Howard answer it in the public domain. If not racism, what? And if not racism, why did the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal hold that in whipping up the mob at Cronulla, broadcaster Alan Jones had “incited hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule of Lebanese Muslims” by his on-air comments, describing them a “vermin” who “rape and pillage a nation that’s taken them in”.

If that wasn’t racism, Mr Howard, what was it?

Former Prime Minister John Howard has a rosy view about the Cronulla riot.
Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Brain Teaser of the Century

Friends? This is nothing less than the best brain teaser I have ever seen, and it originally appeared in Marilyn vos Savant’s column, “Ask Marilyn” in Parade magazine in 1990:

“Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, ‘Do you want to pick door No. 2?’ Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?”

Answer next week. (And you’re on your honour. You’re allowed to ask smart and mathematical friends – even those with PhDs – because they will probably get it wrong in any case. But NO Googling!)

Quotes of the Week

“I prepared myself for every argument that Barnaby might put against gay marriage and then he said some middle eastern countries would see it as Australian decadence and cancel cattle orders. He stumped me.” – Barrie Cassidy, recalling Barnaby Joyce 1.0.

“Message to the Nats – not even the Americans would vote for Trump twice.” – Former Liberal leader John Hewson, after the National Party gave their own answer to a soufflé never rises twice, by rewarming a meat pie with tomato sauce, putting Barnaby Joyce back in the role of Leader, replacing the hapless, hopeless, but decent, Michael McCormack.

“Change the channel!” –The federal Member for Bruce, Labor’s Julian Hill, interjects during PM Morrison’s televised answer during question time, from the Lodge, where is serving out his quarantine stint.

“Oh my God, what’s happened?” – Former Parisian fire chief Sgt. Xavier Gourmelon tells the Daily Mail of Princess Diana’s last words after her fatal road crash in Paris in 1997.

“You have to say there’s a fair bit of public outrage about it.” – A restrained NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller about the idea that the limo driver who caused Sydney’s latest COVID outbreak was unvaccinated despite regulations.

“Maggoted.” – A fellow senator describing the, at best, tired and emotional condition of Northern Territory senator Samantha McMahon in the chamber on Tuesday evening. Senator McMahon denies this, and insists her demeanour was caused by receiving some “sad personal news”.

“When you leave your home, at any time of the day, you have to assume that you, or somebody in close proximity, has the virus.” Premier Berejiklian, at the beginning of the week, trying to keep everyone focussing on not spreading COVID.

“I really want the public to be prepared and to know this is an evolving situation and the NSW government will not hesitate to go further and harder.” – Premier Gladys Berejiklian as the COVID outbreak got worse and more restrictions came in.

“It is very difficult for Australians overseas to get home right now because our government has pushed a politics of paranoia over any sort of policy. The government has shown time and again how little it cares about us.” – Anne Walsh of the Aussies Stranded in the UK Facebook group at the news that Scott Morrison’s office spent weeks planning a G7 side trip to explore his convict family roots while the Prime Minister publicly argued Britain was too risky for Australian travellers. The Australian press was not told about the St Keverne trip and Morrison’s official photographer, Adam Taylor, did not publish any images from the pilgrimage even though he was there. Nothing was mentioned on Morrison’s Facebook page or Twitter account.

“While we see that more capital works will go into our health system, all of that lovely bricks and mortar does nothing to save lives, it’s actually the people inside and we’re not seeing that issue addressed at all in this budget.” – NSW Nurses and Midwives Association secretary Brett Holmes about the state budget.

“Morrison’s poor judgment, the debacle of the vaccination rollout, the failures on quarantine, the monumental debt created by the monumental spending, his intolerance of criticism will all catch up with him eventually, most likely not until after the election, when he will reap what he has sown.” – Nikki Savva, in her last column for The Australian, before resigning over the arrival of Peta Credlin as a fellow columnist.

“At the time Juanita disappeared it was rumoured she was costing developers millions per day. Her disappearance without trace was devastating for all the family. We were worried that we might be targeted. She couldn’t be buried with her family and for many years there was not even any memorial to Juanita in the family burial ground, her father had died of a broken heart.” –Margaret Foy, speaking on behalf of husband Francis Foy, Juanita Nielsen’s cousin, as a reward of $1 million was offered by police for new evidence leading to a conviction and discovery of Juanita’s remains.

“I acknowledged my faults, and I resigned, as I should and I did. I spent three years on the backbench. I hope I come back a better person. I don’t walk away from the fact that you have to have time to consider not only the effect on yourself but more importantly the effect on others. I’ve done that, I don’t want to dwell on the personal.” – Barnaby Joyce after barging, in a very Barnaby way, back into the leadership of the National Party.

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