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. I sent an SMS to my local branch secretary, who is also a WA ALP Senator’s aide. I asked him to ask the Senator to vote against this “metadata” legislation because it will have unintended consequences and will be a target of opportunity for thieves, scoundrels and other scofflaws to take advantage of ordinary citizens.

    Like Kirsdarke, I am quite angry about the fact that it has gone through. And I think I will raise the risks it exposes us all to, including the families of politicians (I wonder if they considered that … ) at every meeting I attend between now and the court case (and after it if need be)

    Yet for all that, I feel as if I will be dismissed as yet another hipster Chicken Little amongst all the clever political movers and shakers who know better – and this after listening to people involved in telecommunications companies telling them how it is going to affect us and how the telcos are going to get sued when, not if, their data storage is breeched!

    I think the best we can do at the moment is to a) find and fund the lawyers who will be challenging this legislation as a breech of civil liberties (precedents being the Norse countries and the EU) and b) find and promote ways around the stupidity of the legislation, joining the ‘real criminals’ who already know about these technological work-arounds. *sighs*

    I think I need to go and destroy something I am so cross!
    Anyone got some old plates for a smashing time?

  2. If anyone is wondering what the screaming noise they hear off in the distance it is the ICC seeing India and the mega uber television audience they would bring NOT making the final. Looks all in for an ANZAC final.

    Unless India can score 103 in 5 overs

  3. Kaffeeklatscher,

    Four sixes an over? Easy meat!

    Mind you, I’d prefer an ANZAC final, especially this year. If it happens, I will definitely be barracking for the NZedders.

  4. Given we are two days out from the NSW election, anyone want to take a guess at what’ll be on the Daily Telegraph’s front page? my guess is they’ll come close to depicting Baird as Jesus.

  5. @GL, Fiona

    Probably. If I had more time and photoshop skills I was thinking of making up a mock one like that with the headline “VANQUISH THY SOCIALIST HEATHEN – Vote 1 Liberal or Be Cast Into The Ninth Circle of Hell”.

    Oh well, the Terror probably has one like that ready to go.

  6. Oh, and patience too. Browsing google for a DT front page as a reference annoyed me too much. So much filth and slander.

  7. I am, as so often, indebted to Leroy for interesting links (no, I’m not dissing you, BK – you and Leroy share that pantheon).

    I think it is worth reproducing part of the valedictory address of His Honour Justice Wilson on the occasion of his retirement from the Queensland Supreme Court.

    His words are a signal of the storm that may yet come:

    It would border on the mischievous, or be unnecessarily tantalising, not to remark some unusual aspects of this proceeding. I am obliged to the Chief Justice for allowing this courtroom to be used for it. I also acknowledge and am grateful that the judges have agreed to proceed in this novel way.

    I would not, however, have contemplated this proceeding had the Chief Justice insisted upon presiding. That is not the end of it. I wish to say some more things that will colour these proceedings in a way with which some may disagree, or find upsetting. . I have agonised about this. In saying what follows I speak entirely for myself, and express only my own views and opinions, without the foreknowledge or approval of any of the judges. None of them has seen these remarks, in draft or at all.

    I want to speak about the leadership of the court.

    Friends and peers will appreciate that for me to use a sporting metaphor about leadership would border on the grotesque, and all sportspeople everywhere could rightly take offence. I hope it is not too precious to compare a court to an orchestra. The conductor does not have to be the best musician but they must be good enough to have the respect, even the grudging respect, of all the members. They must also have some administrative, political and personal skills. In the case of a Chief Justice, they must also attract some respect for their legal ability.

    Sadly the current experiment, involving a Chief Justice who frankly admits he lacks that ability, and has signally failed to manifest those skills, is not working – and there is no reason to think that it ever will.

    You do not know of a number of things which stand behind that prediction. The Chief Justice has made many public pronouncements and given many interviews about his appointment, and his actions. The judges have said nothing.

    It is the tension between what the Chief Justice has said and the things he has done, known only the judges, which to my perception at least partly explains a serious loss of morale in the court. I hear judges at all levels of seniority, including quite young ones, speaking seriously of resignation. The problem is bad and, in my view, getting worse. That is why I am driven to say something.

    The first matter is the Chief Justice’s removal of himself from all trial division sittings in Brisbane, and advice that he will only sit very occasionally in the Court of Appeal. Traditionally, what judges do is sit in courts and hear and decide cases. The Chief Justice has not sat in an actual hearing since 15 February this year. He has withdrawn himself from all published court calendars, so nobody knows when or whether he intends sitting again. That is an extraordinary state of affairs. He does publish an engagements calendar, usually called ‘Chief Justice Duties’. It contains social and professional engagements. The notion that there is scope for some kind of full-time public relations role for a head of jurisdiction, and little more, is surprising. So is the idea that judge-work takes second place, and must give way to these kinds of events – which other judges do almost every day, but outside court sitting hours. It does not seem a good use of resources. It places a significant extra burden on the other judges.

    The second was his recent shocking but unpublicised sacking of Justice Byrne, the Senior Judge Administrator – something which attracted unanimous condemnation and resistance from the judges, and which they managed to have reversed.

    The third concerns the Court of Disputed Returns. The Supreme Court has for many years had a very sensible protocol which annually appoints judges to that court in strict order of seniority, to ensure there can never be any suggestion of political influence or motive in the appointment.

    In the teeth of a possible contest about the outcome of the election in Ferny Grove, the Chief Justice’s initial attempt to contest the automatic operation of that protocol and, then, his attempts to speak privately with the next nominated judge to that position about what he described in a memorandum as ‘unresolved concerns’ was rightly resisted by the judge, and unanimously condemned by the judges. The Chief Justice did, eventually, appoint the judge nominated under the protocol. It was the preceding events which caused the judges so much worry.

    Finally it will be recalled that the Chief Justice, in his public remarks last Christmas, urged the judges to maintain civility and courtesy; but he has on different occasions referred to us collectively as ‘snakes’, and ‘scum’. Both the remarks, and this kind of hypocrisy, have a devastating effect on morale.

    These things (and others, like his failure to take any role in the administration of the Court by, for example, attending and effectively chairing judges’ meetings) have distracted the judges from their work, which is busy and constant. To see press interviews being given telling only one side of the story when all other members of the judiciary are working hard while maintaining a proper and dignified silence is having a very dispiriting effect upon them.

    I am proud to have been a member of this court, and proud to have been with these judges during recent upheavals. They will strive to continue to serve with the sense of duty, the diligence, the high ability – and the independence – that they have maintained through the current troubles. But the natural feelings of discouragement created by things like these, and being publicly represented by a Chief Justice for whom most now lack all respect, is beginning to tell.

    The judges are entitled to your support and it is critical, at this difficult and unhappy time, that they have it.


    In the last five years we have seen the trashing of our parliaments, especially our federal parliament. We have seen the trashing of a supposedly frank and fearless media. Some of us – many of us – are deeply concerned about the politicisation of our armed forces and our police. However, there has been one bastion. The judiciary. (I know Jaycee doesn’t agree, but I disagree with him – despite the Barwicks, McTiernans and all the other political appointments to the High Court.)

    I was somewhat – and pleasantly – surprised by the abbott regime’s first appointment to the High Court – Geoffrey Nettle. In the early 1980s I was a first year solicitor in the Melbourne firm where he worked – in the litigation department. He was meticulous in all his dealings that I ever saw.

    Much more recently, I listened with great interest to his remarks upon the sentencing of Adrian Bayley, who raped and murdered Jillian Meagher:

    Justice Nettle said Bayley’s criminal record helped him decide why he had hurt Ms Meagher and taken her life.

    “As your criminal record reveals, you are a recidivist violent sexual offender who has had little compunction about sexual offending when the mood takes you, or about threatening and inflicting violence as part of the process.

    “I am persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that when you saw an opportunity to rape the deceased, you took it,” the judge said.

    “It was a savage, violent rape of the gravest kind committed upon a woman whom you knew was most certainly not consenting.

    “I am also satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that you strangled the deceased with intent to kill her.”

    Given Bayley’s strength and size compared to his victim, who weighed only 55 kilograms, Justice Nettle said he could “easily have controlled her”.

    “It follows that, apart from the fact that she was about to call the police, and apart from the sadistic pleasure which you evidently derive from hurting women, there was no reason to hold her on the ground until she ceased to breathe.

    “I accept that in terms of moral culpability your killing of the deceased ranks among the worst kinds conceivable and that you must be sentenced accordingly.”

    Justice Nettle said Bayley’s past offending “demonstrates a dangerous propensity to subject women to rape and violence in order to satiate your perverted sexual desires”.

    Completely clinical. Utterly humane.

    A great asset to the bench of the High Court.

  8. .”they voted against Gillard….?…”

    Dreyfus voted for Julia Gillard.”……………of course, I was speaking collectively.

  9. The French Prosecutor has come out and said that the Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane.

  10. Re the germanwings crash.
    It’s shocking that someone with a death wish can so selfishly snuff out so many lives knowing they will not face any consequences for their cowardly actions.
    Truly sad.

  11. Stonyhabbott,

    It is looking more and more like a suicide, though other explanations are faintly possible.

    I agree with your assessment – if you want to top yourself, why take out so many others?

  12. Leone,

    Not tony – too much hair, and the wrong colour.

    Not a dead rat – the fur is too shiny.

    My mind is beginning to drift into all sorts of unchartered territories, and I should probably shut up now.

  13. @Fiona

    Yes, it looks like that. The co-pilot has been named as Andreas Lubitz, a German national. They’ll be investigating his history thoroughly in the next few days I guess.

  14. Just read the Guardian article by Jason Wilson as recommended by Andrew Elder.
    IMO one of the best articles I’ve read in ages.

  15. Stonyhabbot,

    May I please call you Stony?

    Yes, Jason Wilson’s article was good, but one still has to ask why the hell weren’t these abbatical sins being aired ages ago by the msm.

    After all, I’ve known all about them for the past nearly 40 years – and I’m not even a journalist.

    He is a nasty little (in every possible sense) man. He deserves no respect. He is a destroyer – a nihilist.

    His parents, his wife, and his “sexy” daughters, should be ashamed of him.

  16. Dozens of private letters written by Prince Charles to Government ministers containing the future king’s “most deeply held personal views and beliefs” are set to be published within weeks, in the wake of a landmark ruling by the UK’s highest court.


    Was always going to be so. Only the Monarch is immune under UK law.

    “a landmark ruling” = short press memory – in the 1980’s Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten’s family tried to claim he was immune from the Public Records Act. The full Bench of the UK Supreme Court disagreed with the Royal Family.

  17. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Mark Kenny asks if the pro-business party has lost its nerve and is only concerned with political survival.
    Peter Martin writes that Victoria is the favourite destination for people moving state.
    What happens when a company bans emails?
    Ross Gittins – we are suckers for scare campaigns.
    Parliament will look into the ice epidemic and related issues.
    Abbott reverses the cuts to legal aid.
    Widodo still is “too busy” to return Abbott’s phone call.
    Adele Ferguson on the problems within the like insurance industry.
    Abbott and his ministers are talking about making changes to the Senate election system in order to minimise the size of the cross benches. Labor thinks it would entrench the Liberals.
    “View from the Street” has a look at the last day of the parliamentary session.

  18. Section 2 . . .

    Dutton is in fine form!
    What a surprise! Direct Action is set up to lead to a big rise in emissions.
    And a call to arms from John Hewson on renewable energy.
    The 38 worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    Morrison’s Toy Soldier gets the top army job but can’t/won’t talk about it.
    Alan Moir with a Hockey presser.

    Just have a look at THIS from David Pope!

    Mark Knight on the changes in the Top Gear garage.

    David Rowe justifiably takes the piss out of the government’s renewables position.

    “Joe’s Lip Service” from Bill Leak.

  19. A seat to watch tomorrow night –

    NSW state election 2015: Labor targets Goulburn with $270m hospital pledge

    Members of Ms Goward’s ministerial staff were among the Baird supporters who crashed the announcement in Goulburn. A handful of supporters held up anti-Labor signs and distributed pamphlets.

    “Piss off,” Labor’s candidate, former federal senator Ursula Stephens admonished. “We let you have your [policy] launch.”

    A spokesman for Mr Baird said the staffers had taken leave from their positions


  20. BK’s links –
    ‘View From the Street’ is always excellent, but today is even more excellent. If you haven’t read it then you have to, right now.

    Andrew P Street nails it, every time, points out the bleeding obvious that the more highly promoted so-called ‘journalists’ never mention.

  21. I believe there is a ‘core’ of subversive right-wing elements within the Labor party who are really not THAT far removed from LNP. policy thinking…there are the usual suspects and i think they ought to be sussed out and culled before the next election. Martin Ferguson / Joel Fitzgibbon and some others seem to be in a coterie of conspirators that cannot be trusted…I say ; get rid of them!

  22. Fraser – One thing I’ll give him was his ‘Advance Australia’ campaign. I had the little triangular badge on my coat lapel (and a desk plaque) for many years in the UK.

    A reminder to locals that I was a foreign national and that I was banned from knowing about things to do with overseas trade.

  23. Just saw a bit of Malcolm Frasers memorial.
    A man who at least had the integrity to resign from his political party when he no longer believed in what they stood for.
    On the other hand we have the mumbling Martin Ferguson, a man who owes everything to the ALP yet sees fit to bag them during an election campaign. Choosing to take the money and be a shallow mouthpiece for vested interest but without the integrity or decency to resign from the ALP.
    What a total piece of shit.
    If I saw that traitorous tosser on the street I swear I would punch him flush on the nose.
    Surely he should be booted out of the ALP?

  24. CTar1

    totally agree about the advance Australia logo – I have the lapel badge also, and I still have my lovely warm double knit Jumper with that logo in the cupboard at home (pity it doesn’t fit any more!) and have hanging in my study a large cardboard version that has always hung in bedroom or study where ever I’ve been living…

  25. Labor has tried to expel Ferguson – a year ago there were moves to get rid of him – but he refuses to resign. He just wants to stick around, trash talk Labor and lap up all the publicity. Serious mental health issues in play, I think.

    Mr Ferguson, who now holds several mining industry posts including chairing the advisory board of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), said he had kept his membership in the Labor Party for 40 years and so had “the right to speak out as I so desire”.

    “I have no intention of leaving the Labor Party,” Mr Ferguson said, after using a speech to a gas conference in Sydney on Tuesday to step up his criticism of NSW Labor leader Luke Foley just days out from the state election.
    Mr Ferguson has sparked controversy in the past, with the executive of WA Labor last year calling for his expulsion from the party after he took on the role with APPEA.

    A resources and energy minister for six years, Mr Ferguson also indicated he backed the Abbott government’s plan to cut the Renewable Energy Target (RET)


  26. Leone,

    Middle child syndrome, I suspect. The second of three boys, which is even worse. Look at Greg Chappell, for example.

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