Bridget McKenzie ANAO
Former minister for agriculture Bridget McKenzie, who was involved in the 'sports rorts' scandal (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

I’d fund that for a dollar!

If there’s one thing that RoboCop taught us it was that the best way for autocratic organisations to stop all that annoying “scrutiny” nonsense is to withhold funding to enforcement bodies to the point where they can no longer adequately do their job. Also: explosions!

And thus it would be wise for the Australian National Audit Office to prepare for a dystopian future filled withe easily-overriden “AuditDrones”, because the government has apparently decided that the office which uncovered the still-unravelling sports rorts clusterhumpery would benefit from budget cuts.

The independent integrity body was operating at a deficit of $4.8 million last financial year and is predicted to face a similar one this year, according to The Canberra Times, noting that if the government is not willing to throw some shortfall-shoring dollars at them then they don’t think they can fulfil their target of 48 audit reports a year.

And given this government’s keen appetite for oversight and zeal for integrity we expect that this problem will be immediately addressed — why Senator Bridget McKenzie must be champing at the bit to ensure that the office’s important work continues without interruption, surely?

In any case, reports that a seven foot tall man clad in reflective armour and resembling auditor-general Grant Hehir had addressed the Joint Parliamentary Committee for Public Accounts and Audit while brandishing a fifteen-inch handgun could not be confirmed at press time.

Fish: not delish

We’re all aware that the Great Barrier Reef is being killed off by recurring bleaching events which will ultimately destroy it — or, alternatively, that the reef is totally fine because Pauline Hanson went for a swim and said so (although admittedly she does have something of a historical preference for things being chalky white).

And as with all situations when something natural and unique is under threat there’s a constituency of people whose reply is, “Oh boo hoo, how does that affect me?”

And for those people, we have some great news.

It turns out that rates of a microalgae called gambierdiscus have been increasing at a healthy lick in Mediterranean and Atlantic waters and are being consumed by fish, octopuses and crustaceans, which are then consumed by humans. And humans, it turns out, are very susceptible to the incurable ciguatoxins contained in gambierdiscus.

Sea creatures, however, are not affected — like coral, for example, which repels the algae unless its dead, at which point it becomes a breeding ground for the stuff.

That algae gets eaten by smaller fish, which then get eaten by larger fish and so on up the food chain until it’s in the yellowfin you’re merrily frying up, since the toxins aren’t even destroyed through cooking.

The poison itself is not especially fatal, but it’s a leading cause of seafood poisoning and can do you permanent damage with symptoms which last for years. 

In other words: if you enjoy surf with your turf, you should be doing all you can to protect corals right about now. Also, if you enjoy biospheres generally.

Look, it’s just a good idea. 

Oh Mandy, you came and you gave without taking…

It’s a tough life out there for a former politician, forced to get by on a six figure pension, excellent superannuation and the benefits of having money slung at you by toadies in industry and cronies in government.

Like, for example, the day-to-day struggle of Howard government-era senator Amanda Vanstone.

Since leaving the upper house in 2007 she has been forced to struggle along on whatever she can save from her piddling parliamentary pension, which as of July 1 last year was a barely-liveable $158,437.50 per-annum for those who entered parliament before 2004. 

Of course, that’s before the bonuses which come with Vanstone’s time on the frontbench and, of course, her three years as Ambassador to Italy. Oh, and her salary from her still-current job as host of Radio National’s Counterpoint programme. 

Fortunately, unlike most ABC staff whose contracts specifically restrict outside work because of potential conflicts of interest, she’s apparently been permitted to pick up some freelance gigs to help make ends meet.

Thanks to disclosures twigged by the mysterious investigative journalist Jommy Tee we know that as of May 26 Mandy Van (as we assume she’s known to her pals) is pocketing a sweet $49,000 with her new gig as chairperson of the Woomera Prohibited Area Advisory Board, as well as $58,000 for an advisory role with the Department of Defence

That being said, given her legacy of freezing rates and slashing eligibility for the dole as minister for family and community services, during which her mantra was “help the needy, not the greedy”, she must be horribly ashamed that she’s still relying upon the public purse.

Presumably she’ll be signing up for JobMaker the second it’s live.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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