A New Yes Minister Script

Gorgeous Dunny has provided today’s Guest Post, with one possible antidote to the slings and arrows of modern living. Many thanks, GD. Fellow Pubsters, please enjoy!

(Image Credit: Yes Minister)

Bob Ellis observed that, in the old Cold War days, many American writers cited the long queues at Moscow stores as proof of failure in the Soviet Communist system. If so, he said, then modern capitalism is also failing if our telephone queues are any guide. We can no longer be connected to a bank, a large business or a government department without going through a tedious computerised screening system.

Delays of 10-15 minutes are regarded as pretty normal. My own personal record is 75 minutes before even my patience ran out and I hung up. It was to the Tax Department – so I couldn’t even realistically complain. I have had a delay of 35 minutes waiting to talk to someone at my credit union in Melbourne. Credit union? Aren’t they supposed to be run for the benefit of members? Most readers would have similar nightmare delays to disclose.

At least in the old Moscow queues, the customers got the chance to joke and complain to each other. With the phone queues, you are entirely alone, just occasionally hearing the sound of recorded messages. The only humour is in the odd message such as, “We’ll get to you very soon. Please don’t hang up. Your call is valuable to us!” But after a few repeats, even that attempt at black humour wears a bit thin.

As a way of coping, I wrote a short script for a revised version of the old Yes, Minister TV series. I hope readers may be inspired to do similar.

“Minister, good news! Calls to government departments have dropped by 80% since we completed the new call centres.”

“How can that be good news, Humphrey? I thought the idea was for people to use them to get government information.”

“Not at all, Minister. The aim is to give people the illusion they can get government information. The computer screening barriers are designed to frustrate them until they give up. You know of the Henry Ford Customer Axiom?”

“Axiom?? … Hmmn. … Oh, I know! You mean, the customer can have any coloured car they like as long as it’s black?”

“Very good, Minister! Very sharp today! What we offer is a modern variant. Anyone can inquire any time about government business just by ringing that toll-free number. Nice touch, that. They know they’re not paying much for the calls. But we don’t say anything about how long it’ll take them to get an answer, or even if we ever answer it.”

“But shouldn’t we be offering a better service by talking to them?”

“To a point, Minister … and very brave, too.”

“B-B-B-Brave? Did you say brave?”

“Well, Minister, I ask you, would you really want taxpayers, who are voters after all, to know how little we can actually do for them? Should we tell them how quickly we’re outsourcing and privatising everything?”

“Um, … er, … well, … I see what you mean. But … but, what if somebody found out nobody uses them? Why not just close the call centres down? We have trouble getting staff to last at them anyway. How do the banks manage theirs?”

“Minister, … Minister. It’s better to continue the automatic systems, set up additional barriers at the second and third points. That way, enquirers are bound to give up before they get connected. And they’re none the wiser about what we’re doing.”

“But, … but,… what if somebody needs really important or life-support information?”

“Websites, Minister. Expand the websites. And I wouldn’t think too much about the banks for a model. Do you know their call centres are in India? A sing-song voice at the other end won’t impress voters. Well, what would you like us to do, Minister?”

“Um, er, ah … Set up additional automatic phone barriers and expand the websites.”

“Yes, Minister.”

(Image Credit: Yes Minister)


579 thoughts on “A New Yes Minister Script

  1. To think that he is Laurie’s brother (or half – ) … Laurie worked very hard at the last election. Also, I think, he was a strong Gillard supporter.

  2. About this metadata thing –
    I”m a bit of a gumby when it comes to techie stuff, but from what I’ve read and been able to understand the laws we now have are a crock.

    I could be wrong, if I am please set me straight, but –

    If you use overseas-owned services like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter then your traffic on those sites cannot be tracked. The laws only apply to Australian-owned stuff.

    If you make calls on your moblie then that data will be kept, but if you use Skype or any of the other similar programs then you are free and clear.

    if you get yourself a VPN and do tricky things with your modem your IT gear will tell the world you live somewhere like Estonia, or the Virgin Islands and you will get around the entire thing. VPN providers say there has been an explosion in demand from Australian users since the laws were proposed.

    So what’s the point of all this mass surveillance if the only people who will have their metadata stored are average Aussies who use the internet and their mobile phones for playing games, shopping and reading the news?

    How any of this regulation is meant to do anything to stop ‘terrorists’ or kiddie-fiddlers continuing as normal is something the government can’t explain, but it will allow Mr Plods to leap onto some 12 year old who has pirated a movie, or a grannie who has not-quite-legally downloaded her favourite TV series.

    So what the frack is the point of it all, and why the hell did Labor go along with it instead of laughing it out of parliament?

    The only reason I can think of for having this crap is to allow increasing ‘Big Brother’ surveillance of all Australians (those who are not clever enough to dodge the system) in preparation for worse control further down the track, should this rotten, fascist government get another term.

    As for Labor – we are now being deluged with Labor MPs telling us how hard they worked to get the initial draft of the legislation changed. As far as I can see all that changed was a minor adjustment to make journalists happy. Before the bill was debated we heard all about the many amendments Labor would demand when the time came. BUT – when the time did come Labor waved the bill through both houses with no amendments at all being made. Why? Someone is lying, someone is hiding things. I do not like being taken for a fool or treated like a mushroom.

  3. Just watching a bit of news about Yemen and its descent into chaos. This headline from a couple of weeks back is something to keep in mind, Things that make you go Hmmm.

    Pentagon loses track of $500 million in weapons, equipment given to Yemen

    The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials


  4. An interesting stat from the US.
    If all Atheists left the US, they would lose 93% of the National Academy of Scientists, but less than 1% of the prison population….

  5. GD

    That would be right up Abbott’s British beliefs seeing how the British generals sold out the Aussies troops in Singapore.

  6. Just read the bit about Abbott granting a Japanese soldier the AM or OM or whatever.
    Someone posted somewhere that Abbott is a plant by ALP to stop Libs ever getting elected again.
    Not only has he pissed off 95% of the population , he is now pissing off the remaining x% who make up the remaining people who served in WW11

  7. rnm…he didn’t did he !!???..is that what GD’s post was about…I’ve run out of ‘Bigpond cash” so I am down to walking pace in “fraudband’.

  8. jaycee
    Here’s the story on the Japanese general.
    Aust honour for Japanese defence general
    AAP MARCH 27, 2015 2:29PM

    AUSTRALIA has honoured the head of the Japanese military for his work in boosting defence relations with the Australian Defence Force.

    GENERAL Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of staff of the Japanese Self Defence Forces, has been appointed an honorary officer in the Military Division of the Order of Australia.

    The honour is for his role in enhancing defence engagement and practical co-operation between Australia and Japan.
    General Iwasaki is an airforce officer and fighter pilot with experience flying Japan’s main fighter the F-15 Eagle.

  9. Christ!…the guy’s gotta be a pommie!…he’s just got no idea!…sure, if you want to be honourable, present him with some act of recognition..but NOT a military OA…geez!!

  10. JC,
    If you’re in NSW you’d know what a rag Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph is.
    Can you imagine the front page hysteria whipped up if this was done by ALP?

  11. Hell!…there’s any number of Mussolini’s descendants here in Oz..why not award them something!?

  12. janice
    The only media links to the story I could find were for the NT News, the Weekly Times and the Mercury, all NewsCorpse sites. Their ABC hasn’t said a word, neither has Fairfax. Either they are deliberately ignoring the story or they are incredibly slow to catch on.

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