There’s a rumour circulating that the next floundering minister to be
rewarded with a key diplomatic sinecure will be Amanda Vanstone.
Apparently she has been hard at work on her Mandarin lessons and has
already given two speeches in China’s most widely spoken language.

Ever-willing to help, we have put together the following guide to
important phrases Vanstone might not get to learn in Mandarin class: women yao jueding shei neng qu women zuguo (we decide who comes to this country); cha dui (queue jump); nan min (refugee); Wasai! Nimen zheli ye you juliusuo ma? (Oh, so you have detention centres too?), and – essential for a cabinet minister – wo ji bu de (I don’t recall).

Peter Fray

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