The Fitz Files

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

Illustration: Reg Lynch.

Ms Julia Gillard and I share the same publisher, Nikki Christer, and at lunch last week Nikki mentioned that the eagle has landed - that the manuscript of our erstwhile prime minister has landed on her desk. Even allowing for the usual happy burbling publishers do when reading words they have paid a fair penny for, Nikki seemed genuinely thrilled at how good it is. It is all Ms Gillard's work, with no ghost writer, and covers only her time as prime minister and the fascinating period leading up to it. The book will be released in October.


Picture of efficiency

Ten years ago, TFF described how stunned I was - after realising at midnight on a Thursday that my passport, which I needed to fly to New Zealand the following morning at dawn, was actually in the hands of the Chinese Embassy awaiting a visa - to have a fresh passport in my hands 90 minutes later through the smooth efficiency of the Australian Passport Office.

On Thursday, I was suddenly exposed to something that surprised me even more. Heading into what used to be the RTA at Chatswood to renew my licence, at lunchtime, I was expecting the usual infuriating wait.

Instead, at the newly refurbished and rebadged facility - now Roads and Maritime Services - I, and all new arrivals, was met at the door by a charming attendant, asked my business, and steered to the right desk, where there was no queue! Seven minutes later - even allowing for the kerfuffle in the item below - all done! Bravo, Roads Minister Duncan Gay, or whoever it is in your department that has ushered in such a revolution of prompt efficiency.


…and no nonsense!

Just one thing, though. For the photo for my licence, I was asked to remove my bandanna. For the hell of it, I decided to follow the lead of Niko Alm, the Austrian atheist who, in 2008, decided it was discriminatory that the only exemptions to the ban on headwear in licence shots were for religious people wearing headgear such as hijabs, and so took the government to court. Alm said he wished it to be known that he was a ''Pastafarian'' - that is, a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - and after three years won the case, allowing him to wear a pasta-strainer on his head for his licence shot. In Chatswood on Thursday, the lady confirmed that in NSW exceptions were made for hijabs, so I said I wanted to wear my bandanna for my religion.

''And what is that?'' she asked.

''The Me religion,'' I said, deadpan.

She conferred with a colleague, and came back.

''OK, you can wear it,'' she said.

No court case, no nonsense. Bravo!


Joke of the week

A young woman called at a hospital information desk and asked to see the upturn.

''I think you mean intern, don't you?'' asks the duty nurse.

''Yes, I guess so,'' she replies. ''I want a contamination.''

''You mean 'examination'?''

''I suppose. Anyway, I want to go to the fraternity ward.''

''I'm sure you mean the maternity ward . . ?''

''Probably. Upturn, intern, contamination, examination, fraternity, maternity - what the hell's the difference? All I know is that I haven't demonstrated for two months, and I think I'm stagnant.''



They said it...

''You know what? We don’t have the first freaking CLUE what happened to our plane, and haven’t had from the start''

Malaysia Airlines has NOT released this as a statement over the missing Flight MH370, but it would have saved a lot of grief. 

''This is set up like a high-achieving, measurement-driven, totally target-oriented company ...  We are out to defeat slavery, we are not out to feel good.''

West Australian iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest on the Global Freedom Network, which he helped found – a new group led by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt. 

''Fifty cent surcharge for being on the phone at the counter. It’s rude!''

Sign at Bella Natural Food Co cafe on the Central Coast.

''I understand people are in a rush, it’s a busy world. [But] we’re asking them a lot of questions. ‘Do you have sugar?’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘What’s going on?’ ‘How’s the beach?’ You can’t do that with someone on the phone.''

Luke Proust, manager of the cafe, who put the sign up.

"Maybe one day. One’s enough at the moment."

Prince William on future royal offspring.

''We did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country, so anything that did not look like a threat to us, we simply look at it without taking actions.''

Thailand’s air force spokesman Air Vice-Marshal Montol Suchookorn explaining that, although Thailand’s military radar detected a plane that may have been Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 just minutes after the jetliner’s communications went down, it didn’t share the information with Malaysia because it wasn’t specifically asked for it.

''Well, that’s a harsh word but probably.''

Australian Water Holdings director John Rippon when asked before ICAC about the hundreds of thousands of dollars AWH secretly billed Sydney Water for its attempts to expand into Queensland and whether that would be fraud.

“What appeared to have happened was a response by him to his own impulses on a more or less opportunistic basis. He sought comfort elsewhere.’’

 Craig Thomson’s barrister Greg James QC, saying that Thomson spent union money on prostitutes when he was confronted by “moments of need or desire” during his time as HSU national secretary, when his relationship with his then wife was breaking down.

''The culture [in Australia] is very similar to the US. There’s no language barrier. The foods are the same. The diets are very similar.''

Diamondbacks assistant manager Craig Shipley. Exactly! Will you bastards stop copying us, please?

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz