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Feathers should fly on this greedy goose chase

Date

Peter FitzSimons

The Fitz Files

<i>Illustration: Reg Lynch.</i>

Illustration: Reg Lynch.

Back in the economics class of Bo-Bo James in 1977, I seem to remember mostly reading the books of Dickens up the back, as although Bo-Bo was a good man, the subject itself was dull. So I don’t pretend to any expertise. But I have long loved the words of Louis XIV’s Finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, when he declared that “L’art de taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.” And I accept there was a lot of heavy hissing from some very big gooses when the Rudd government tried to benefit the Commonwealth by imposing a serious mining tax on those making enormous profits from the common wealth of the nation. So here is my uneducated question. Aren’t there less feathers this way, and isn’t the current hissing greater? The Coalition rejected the notion of grabbing a larger slice from those making as much as $50 million a day. (No names, no pack drill, but I mean Gina Rinehart.) To make up that money, it appears to be about to do such things as impose sick tax of $6 on those visiting the doctor, of freezing pensions, of cutting welfare, of imposing a debt levy and all the rest – all of it affecting just about everyone. Is this wise? What am I missing?

The IKEA faction

Charlie Lynne MLC to ICAC, on Thursday afternoon, on whether he was part of the same Conservative Right faction as Chris Hartcher: “I think they call it the IKEA faction now.”

Counsel Greg O’Mahoney: “Does that mean it is hard to get together and easy to fall apart [or] it's everywhere you look?”

Lynne: "It's laid out everywhere and it comes together for areas of mutual interest.”

Commissioner Megan Latham: “Does it come with its own Allen key?”

Brought the house down. Charlie Lynne is not accused of wrongdoing.

The 'N' word

An interesting scandal in Britain this week, where the insufferable Jeremy Clarkson has been caught on tape, saying out loud the nursery rhyme that, in less enlightened times, many of us grew up on: “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a n----r by the toe.”

 In response, Clarkson has begged for public forgiveness, and in all the subsequent coverage the racist epithet is never even spelt out, let alone said. I get it. I support it. I am just amazed how quickly it has come upon us, and with such force.

For suddenly, the “N-word,” as it is referred to, is the new “C-word,” and I put it you that these days you’d sooner be heard saying that C-word than the N-word. Given such sensitivity, will we soon be to the point where one word in Bob Dylan’s famous lyric in his song Hurricane – “As for the black folks he was just a crazy n***er, no one doubted that he pulled the trigger” – will be beeped out?

Joke of the week

The pastor asks if anyone in the congregation would like to express praise for answered prayers. Suzie Smith stands and walks to the podium. “Two months ago,” she begins falteringly, “my husband, Phil, had a terrible bicycle wreck and his scrotum was completely crushed. The pain was excruciating and the doctors didn't know if they could help him.”

A muffled gasp breaks out from the men in the congregation as they contemplate the horror.

“Phil was unable to hold me or the children,” Suzie goes on, “and every move caused him terrible pain.  We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and it turned out they were able to piece together the crushed remnants of Phil's scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in place.”

Again, the men in the congregation shudder.

“Now,” she announces in a quivering voice, “thank the Lord, Phil is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely”.

All the men sighed with unified relief. The pastor rises and asks if anyone else has something to say?

A man stood up and walked slowly to the podium.

“I'm Phil,” he says, as the entire congregation holds its breath. “I just want to tell my wife, for the last time, the word is ‘sternum’.”

They said it...

“I kissed Kylie Minogue. That’s pretty cool.”

Scott Cam on winning the Gold Logie.

“I think what you see with the Commission of Audit’s report, is the blueprint of a budget of broken promises.”

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek.

‘‘I don’t know how to apologise for the failure to prevent this accident, and for the insufficient first response. I feel so regretful for having been unable to correct such long-running evils and letting an accident like this take place.’’

South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologising for her government’s failure to combat regulatory ‘‘evils’’ blamed for the loss of about 300 lives in the April 16 Sewol ferry disaster.

“As big as it is, Sydney is very small . . . The people who live here in Sydney will realise what I am talking about. When I first came here I hated the place and didn’t want to be here but that changed very quickly. I couldn’t be happier.”

Rabbitoh Greg Inglis, too, says you gotta love this city.

“Thank you viewers, for your trust, loyalty and all the support you've shown me and us over these six years, I wish you all good luck and good health, so I'm Ian Ross and for the final time, thanks for your company, good night.”

So did the hugely likeable Ian Ross sign off from a 50-year journalistic career in November 2009, when he read his final news bulletin for Channel Seven. Ross died on Wednesday. Good night, Ian.   

“As I have found out, recognition has its upside, its downside, and – you may say – its backside.”

Pippa Middleton words recalled in a week where she has been accused by a French stylist of wearing a “false bottom” to the wedding of her sister.

"Who is ICAC?"

Nathan Tinkler when informed they were having a look at some of his affairs. It is a fair bet he now knows. 

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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