Folklaw 6 May

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

A day in the life of a phone callAre we living in a banana republic where people in positions of power and government are allowed to be rude and arrogant and downright confusing to members of…

A day in the life of a phone call

Are we living in a banana republic where people in positions of power and government are allowed to be rude and arrogant and downright confusing to members of the public? We can laugh in slight shock all we want at Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s “Don't you worry about that”, but just know, dear readers, such infuriating behaviour appears still to be alive and well.

A certain Senator’s treatment of one of our writers recently was so frustrating and, well, rude, that she was forced to call on Folklaw to allow her to let out some steam. A call to the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell’s office, in light of his stance on abortion and plans for a private members bill as revealed in Federal Parliament recently, rather unnerved our writer and forced her to take some quite deep breaths afterwards.


The person who answered the phone, who didn’t reveal himself, asked whether she couldn’t get the information she needed from the website. When she replied she had failed to do so, he responded: “I’ll get it off the website so you can find it on the website, OK?”

Now, I am sure you’ll agree this doesn’t entirely make sense. Any sensible person would ask, “what exactly do you mean and are you going to find it for me?”, but alas, there was a small click on the line and then some spritely classical music that the caller quite enjoyed, she says. But, not so much that she was willing to wait six or seven minutes for it to end, particularly when she wasn’t entirely sure what she was waiting for. Patience reigned, however, and some time later the phone picked up again: “Yes?”

“I am waiting for the questions and answers on the abortion matter,” our writer patiently, though slightly confused, stated.

“Look, Dear, call Brisbane. Here is the number,” and he followed this exceptional labelling of our writer with a number.

“Sorry, what am I calling in Brisbane?” our writer asked.

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“My office in Brisbane, thank you”. He then hung up, before she could further her questioning.

Yes, “my office”, he said. Our writer was gob-smacked. Was this the leader of the National Party in Queensland himself she was speaking to all this time? Was it the Senator who had had her waiting on the end of the line? Our writer was immediately riled — shouldn’t people in positions of governmental power have more consideration for the public, even if they are the press? Well, rather than this shonky liaison, she would have rathered the ridiculous but somehow amusing “don’t you worry about that”, frankly.

Happy ever after at Allens

Allens Arthur Robinson managing partner Tom Poulton’s comments to BRW, that present the firm as a bit of a sweat shop, held particular irony last week when the air conditioning of the Sydney office in Chifley Tower turned off. Indeed, the office actually became a sweat shop in the literal sense for lawyers and partners locked within, treating the clients as if they were God, with “no right to any free time”, if Poulton’s comments are anything to go by.

But, obviously seeing an opportunity to make good for those who may have been put out by the recent comments, the managing partner, it is understood, gave everyone the afternoon off to get out of the sweat shop and enjoy the day.

While some refused to be lured away from the office, even in the sweltering heat, at least the offer was there. So Allens is not the arch rival of flexible work practices after all…

Possibility for cane toad eradication?

Hamburg’s city council could be faced with a run of law suits if disgruntled park patrons decide to take action. Several thousand toads have spontaneously exploded in the city’s park, with such velocity that toad entrails and body parts are spread over a wide area — not a pleasant addition to your day if you happen to be picnicking within range.

No one knows why the toads are blowing themselves up, but theories include an unknown virus, a fungus that has infected the water, or a defence mechanism against aggressive crows. If they were humans we would suppose it was a territorial dispute or a political protest. Whatever it is, it has decimated the city’s toad population, with reports that at least one thousand toads had died in a four-day period.

Nature protection worker Werner Smolnik of Hamburg said the toads have been seen “crawling along the ground, swelling and getting bigger as they go until they are like little tennis balls, and then they suddenly explode”. Janne Kloepper from the Hamburg Institute for Hygiene and the Environment, added: "If this keeps up, there will be no toads left in Hamburg”. But there will be plenty of splattered picnickers.

Get over it!

The Windsor Star in Canada reported recently that a local hairstylist and his wife were awarded the tidy sum of $353,000 for having to endure the incredible trauma of seeing a dead fly in a bottle of water. Neither of them swallowed the fly, neither of them drank any of the water in which the poor fly met its demise, yet the couple were so horrified that they have since been plagued by nightmares, a loss of their sense of humour and had to resort to anti-depressants. Waddah Mustapha claimed “nervous shock, emotional distress and resulting anxiety, depression and physical and psychological conditions” arising from a breach of contract with supplier of the bottled water, Culligan.

The fly was spotted on 21 November, 2001 when the couple was preparing to place the new bottle in its water dispenser. Mustapha’s wife noticed the fly and immediately vomited — Mustapha vomited later that evening. He saw a doctor in January 2002 and was prescribed anti-depressants and stool softeners to rid him of the constipation that had set in due to his complete abstinence from water. He also required therapy to entice him back into the shower after the incident.

Let’s hope he doesn’t use his payout to travel to Hamburg and stroll in the parks.

Slight over-reaction

Thank God for America’s gun laws — rather than having to risk personal injury from kicking his car in frustration when it wouldn’t start, Florida man John McGiveney shot it up instead. He was arrested after neighbours called police when they saw him fire five rounds into the bonnet of his Chrysler. When asked what he was doing, the 64-year-old said he was putting the car “out of its misery”.

Afterwards, McGiveney admitted the shooting was “dumb” but said he didn’t regret it. Well, the car had been giving him trouble for years. “I think every guy in the universe has wanted to do it,” McGiveney said. “It was worth every damn minute in that jail.”

Folklaw 6 May
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