The racing game. The legal actions between horse owner Nathan Tinkler and horse trainer Anthony Cummings due to be heard in New South Wales later this year will be keenly watched by those interested in the auction system as a means of purchase.

It is reported that Mr Cummings is seeking about $1.2 million from the mining magnate, who in turn alleges he is owed more than $2.8 million that the trainer collected in secret commissions when buying horses on his behalf.

Stories about secret commissions and bodgie sales have been rife for years in the thoroughbred industry but rarely do cases get beyond the court room steps before a settlement is reached. Perhaps this time it will be different.

Elaborate parental planning. Surely you cannot destroy a good conspiracy theory with a single bit of paper! Barack Obama might have produced the original of his birth certificate overnight but it is unlikely to convince many of those who think he is not a legal President of the United States of America because he was not born in the country.

The cries of “forgery” are no doubt even now being heard with the conspiracy theory enhanced by the cunning way the President’s mother and father planned the deception. For somehow they even got the following birth announcement published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961:

How clever to know so many years beforehand that proof would be needed so there boy could illegitimately claim the nation’s top job.

Old habits die hard. I thought it a little sad that the judge heading the independent inquiry into the Queensland floods thought it necessary to tell public servants that she expected them to co-operate with the inquiry. The Court of Appeal judge Catherine Holmes was disturbed that potential inquiry witnesses had been told they may wish to consider the public servant code of conduct, which warned against commenting to the media about government policies.

The code of conduct section was largely irrelevant to the inquiry, she said, as it also told employees to limit public discussion on government policy to an “individual capacity”.

The SMH reports Justice Holmes saying she was worried the warning could cause confusion. She said it would be helpful if the government could assure its employees they would suffer no prejudice for providing information to the inquiry.

After a Crown law barrister, Alan MacSporran, SC, said employees could speak without the presence of legal representatives if requested, Justice Holmes said: “It does seem, though, that public servants are informed they have to advise their department’s legal section before speaking to the inquiry and it just seems to me that is not the best way to ensure the free flow of information.”

That such an exchange was thought necessary by the inquiry illustrates just how deeply embedded the pressures are within government to prevent the free flow of information.