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A Modest Farmer [Bert Kelly], “Mavis kicks the bucket under govt milch cow,” The Australian Financial Review, May 4, 1979, p. 3.

When Mavis realised that Mongolia is sandwiched between Russia and China who are not very friendly at the moment, her urgent interest in getting me appointed ambassador there in order to provide proper employment for my striped pants, suddenly evaporated.

So she has been lying fallow for a while, trying to think up another scheme.

She has spent so many years plotting to have me made a minister that I think she gets bored if she does not have a worthwhile outlet for her plotting powers. She hates them to be lying idle.

So when the sordid story broke that Don Dunstan was claiming compensation for the physical harm he had suffered while he was a Member of Parliament, Mavis fairly pounced on the opportunity.

I pointed out that Mr Dunstan had, with exquisite footwork, managed to milk the South Australian exchequer for a capital sum of around $180,000 together with an indexed pension of $15,000 a year, so even he could not expect any more.

But Mavis would have none of it.

“If it is good enough for him to get another bucket under the government cow after all the other milk he has got out of her, then it is good enough for you also.

“We won’t use your halo with which to grab for money as Mr Dunstan did, we will behave in a more inhibited manner, but we will do it all the same.

“If it is good enough for him to be in it up to the elbows, I don’t see why you shouldn’t tickle the till with your fingers.”

Mavis was only a little mollified when she heard later that Mr Corcoran, the new South Australian Premier, had persuaded Mr Dunstan to withdraw his outrageous claim.

Whether this was hard to do we will never know but certainly making the claim demonstrated yet again that the Dunstan image had feet of clay.

And, even more seriously, for Mr Corcoran, the claim was exposing the Labor Party to derision and contempt.

So when it was withdrawn everyone except Mavis gave a sigh of relief.

However, the withdrawal of the claim only seemed to add to Mavis’ determination to get in for my cut.

“It’s the principle of the thing,” she cooed as she sharpened her nails, “you know it is not the money I am after, all I want is proper recognition for all your devoted service to your constituents and compensation for all the physical damage you have suffered.

“Look at your poor back, dear, you cannot deny that it is bent like that because of the load of responsibility you have carried for your constituents.”

I was rather sceptical to hear Mavis claim that it was the principle of the thing and not the money she was after, but long experience has taught me to keep my mouth shut at such times.

So I went away and did a long day on the tractor, trying to figure out how I could divert Mavis away from the subject and hoping in a hopeless way that she would forget all about it.

I should have known better. After tea that night Mavis brought out this list of damages I had suffered in the course of my parliamentary duties and for which she is going to sue for compensation.

  • Damage to back, caused by carrying heavy load of responsibility for constituents.
  • Damage to eyesight caused by looking through rose coloured spectacles at election time.
  • Flat feet caused by excessive footwork necessary to escape from awkward political situations.
  • One leg longer than the other caused by people pulling it.
  • One ear longer than the other caused by Fred twisting it.
  • Purchase of frequent sets of false teeth absolutely essential so as to always be able to smile brightly at constituents.
  • Tendency to deafness, necessary to avoid listening to the futile speeches of other politicians.
  • Strained marital relations caused by having to dance too long and enthusiastically with the belles of balls.
  • Protruding stomach caused by drinking too much alcohol in the course of duty.
  • Shortness of breath caused by continually blowing by own trumpet.

Then Mavis said that these had just come off the top of her head as it were and she was sure that she could think of a lot more, given time.

I couldn’t help muttering as I went out that she wouldn’t be the only person given time if she went ahead with this nonsense.

When I showed the list to Fred he said that he had only one addition to make to the list and that was:

  • Haggard facial expression caused by being married to Mavis.
(in order of appearance on
  1. Bert Kelly on his journalism
  2. Move for a body of Modest Members
  3. Modest Members Association
  4. Bert Kelly's Maiden Parliamentary Speech
  5. Government Intervention
  6. 1976 Monday Conference transcript featuring Bert Kelly
  7. Bert Kelly, Hayek and Mencken on the virtues of farmers
  8. Sound economics calls for quiet from government
  9. Petrol for Farmers
  10. Some Sacred Cows
  11. Experiences in Parliament
  12. Spending your Money
  13. Is Taxmania a politician fetish?
  14. Too many car men in the feather bed
  15. How Bert Kelly repays a free feed
  16. Modest column #898
  17. Chicken-hearted feathered friends strange bedfellows on a feather bed?
  18. Who needs literary licence?
  19. A touch of Fred's anarchy
  20. Helping the farmers help themselves
  21. Standing on the shoulders of the downtrodden
  22. Supply and Demand
  23. Bert Kelly responds to claims he is arrogant and uncredentialed
  24. Politics: it's a very confusing business
  25. The best featherbeds run on rails
  26. Bert Kelly on Disaster Relief
  27. Bert Kelly Wants to Secede
  28. Blinded by their tears
  29. Anti-freedom pro-tobacco industry lobby harmed Australia
  30. Under Labor, is working hard foolish?
  31. An Idiot's Guide to Interventionism
  32. Is free priceless healthcare worthless?
  33. Can government kiss it better?
  34. Bert Kelly Destroys the Side Benefits Argument for Government
  35. Bert Kelly gets his head around big-headed bird-brained politics
  36. First Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  37. Second Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  38. Third Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  39. Fourth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  40. Fifth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  41. Sixth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
  42. Bert Kelly on the 2011 Budget and Australia's Pathetic Journalists and Politicians
  43. Bert Kelly, Bastard or Simple Sod?
  44. Liberal Backbencher Hits Govt. Over Import Restrictions
  45. Bert Kelly feels a dam coming on at each election
  46. Bert Kelly Enters Parliament
  47. Why take in one another's washing?
  48. Bert Kelly breaks the law, disrespects government and enjoys it
  49. Gillard's galley-powered waterskiing
  50. State Premiers are always asking for more taxing powers
  51. Can price control really work?
  52. Should we put up with socialism?
  53. We're quick to get sick of socialism
  54. Time the protection racket ended
  55. Can't pull the wool over Farmer Fred
  56. People not Politics
  57. Bert Kelly admits he should have had less faith in politicians
  58. The inspirational incentivising Dear Leader Gough Whitlam
  59. Labor: a girl who couldn't say no
  60. Why leading businessmen carry black briefcases
  61. Ludwig von Mises on page 3 of AFR
  62. Bert Kelly's empowering feminism
  63. Another shot at motor car madness
  64. Mavis wants the Modest Member to dedicate his book to her
  65. What if the whole country is swindled?
  66. Moss Cass: "Flood plains are for floods"
  67. A worm's eye view
  68. Eccles returns to haunt us
  69. How to grip a politician's ear
  70. It's hard to digest this economic cake
  71. Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
  72. Cold water on government-instigated irrigation schemes
  73. Hooray for Ord River Dam!
  74. Tariffs paid by exporters
  75. The problem of principles v popularity
  76. If you support State Quotas, where will your logic take you?
  77. Against guidance by government
  78. A socialist in Liberal clothing
  79. Never ask the government to help
  80. Don't listen to economists!
  81. Bert Kelly's revolutionary strategy
  82. Welfare state incentivises bludging and being thrown out of work
  83. It all sounds like bloody politics to Fred
  84. Mavis wants me to get in for my chop
  85. Whitlam's July 1973 25% tariff cut
  86. Bert Kelly on Import Quotas
  87. Good directions when government backseat driving, like reversing down wrong side of road
  88. Barriers to imports are barriers to exports
  89. "I was right" — but he's off to hospital ...
  90. Kicking the multinationals is too easy
  91. Bert Kelly reviews The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop
  92. Bert Kelly reviews We Were There
  93. Tariffs get the fork-tongue treatment
  94. Bert Kelly reduces government to its absurdities
  95. Politician sacrifices his ... honesty
  96. It's all a matter of principle
  97. Bert Kelly Destroys the Infant Industry Argument
  98. Bert Kelly Untangles Tariff Torment
  99. Bert Kelly resorts to prayer
  100. Eccles keeps our nose hard down on the tariff grindstone
  101. "Don't you believe in protecting us against imports from cheap labour countries?"
  102. Even if lucky, we needn't be stupid
  103. Great "freedom of choice" mystery
  104. Small government's growth problem
  105. I like my kind acts to get a mention in the press
  106. A Modest Member rakes the embers
  107. Tariffs Introduced
  108. More About Tariffs
  109. Sacred cow kicker into print
  110. Bert Kelly's 1984 two-article quote-collection on Aboriginal policies
  111. Modest Member must not give up
  112. Traditional Wheat Farming is Our Birthright and Heritage and Must be Protected!
  113. Tariff-cut nonsense lives on
  114. Bert Kelly brilliantly defends "theoretical academics"
  115. The high cost of protection
  116. Generosity creates problems
  117. The Society of Modest Members
  118. Is this an illogical, soft, complicated, unfocussed and unsuccessful attempt to communicate the case for markets?
  119. Modesty ablaze
  120. Case for ministers staying home
  121. The unusual self-evident simplicity of the Modest Members Society
  122. Animal lib the new scourge of the bush
  123. The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Krill
  124. modest members society
  125. Repeal economic laws, force people to buy new cars and enforce tariffs against overseas tennis players
  126. Thoughts on how to kill dinosaurs
  127. Let's try the chill winds
  128. Taking the Right's road
  129. Bert Kelly: "I did not try often or hard enough"
  130. Bert Kelly "lacked ... guts and wisdom"
  131. A look at life without tariffs
  132. The Gospel according to Bert
  133. Tiny note on Bert Kelly's column in The Bulletin in 1985
  134. Why costs can't be guaranteed
  135. Hitting out with a halo
  136. Paying farmers not to grow crops will save on subsidies, revenge tariffs, etc
  137. "The Modest Farmer joins us" | "How The Modest Farmer came to be"
  138. Bert Kelly Destroys the Freeloading Justifies Government Argument
  139. Industrial Relations Club shovellers
  140. From Shann to Stone
  141. Government Intervention
    Government Interference
  142. A sojourn in the real world
  143. The tariff wind swings
  144. Bigger Cake = Bigger Slices
  145. Bert Kelly on the Political Process
  146. A charabanc called protection
  147. Taken for a ride - to nowhere
  148. Down hill, in circles, all the way
  149. Economic facts and figures are statistics who should speak out
  150. Any cons arguing small business bad but big government good?
  151. Relationships with the Liberal Party
  152. Tariffs = High Prices + World War
  153. Bert Kelly's Family History
  154. Bert Kelly's Pre-Parliament Life
  155. What the MP could say to the Bishop
  156. Why Bert Kelly was not even more publicly outspoken
  158. How to stand aside when it's time to be counted
  159. How the Modest Member went back to being a Modest Farmer
  160. My pearls of wisdom were dull beyond belief
  161. Bert Kelly on Political Football
  162. Undigested morsels in Fraser spew
  163. Bert Kelly on LSD
  164. Bert Kelly reflects on the Australian car industry in 1992
  165. Bert Kelly wants reprinted Shann's Economic History of Australia
  166. If tariffs are opposed here then why not there?
  167. The emperor has no textiles, clothing and footwear sense
  168. Ross Gittins Wins Bert Kelly Award
  169. Interesting 1964 Bert Kelly speech: he says he is not a free trader and that he supports protection!
  170. This is the wall the Right built
  171. Tariff Protection in Australia (1970)
  172. Has Santa socked it to car makers?
  173. Is the Budget a cargo cult?
  174. Will we end up subsidising one another?
  175. Keeping the bucket of worms alive
  176. Can we get off the stomach-churning head-spinning tariff merry-go-round?
  177. Do we want our money to fly?
  178. Can a bear be sure of a feed?
  179. How to impress your MP -
    ambush him
  180. The time for being nice to our MPs has gone ...
  181. Don't feel sorry for him -
    hang on to his ear
  182. Trade wars can easily end up on a battlefield
  183. Tariffs Create Unemployment
  184. Bert Kelly recommends Ayn Rand
  185. Bert Kelly on Alf Rattigan's Industry Assistance: The Inside Story
  186. Bert Kelly's Satirical Prophecy: Minister for Meteorology (tick) and High Protectionist Policies to Result in War Yet Again (?)
  187. Bert Kelly in 1972 on Foreign Ownership of Australian Farmland and Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Heffernan in 2012
  188. Bert Kelly baits Welfare State Tiger
  189. Why does Govt wear two faces?
  190. Parliament a place for pragmatists
  191. Of Sugar Wells and Think-Tanks
  192. Bert Kelly: "I must take some of the blame"
  193. Bert Kelly on dumping duties
  194. The Govt's helping hand often hurts
  195. Unbuckling the hobbles on the motor industry
  196. A Modest Farmer looks at the Problems of Structural Change
  197. Government Fails Spectacularly
  198. Know your proper place if you want the quiet life
  199. Bert Kelly on political speech writers
  200. Having your cake and eating it
  201. Perish the thawed!
  202. Hooray for Northern Development!
  203. Politicians can resist everything except pressure
  204. The silly image of our MPs
  205. Bert Kelly Question Time highlights
  206. Modest Farmer sees his ideas take hold
  207. Should facts stand in the way of a good story?
  208. Fondling one another's glass haloes
  209. What is the sense in making the effort to look after yourself?
  210. Fred's Feeling: Counterpatriotic country contrarian
  211. Handouts for big boys only
  212. Mavis trying to buy a hand loom
  213. Bad news for bearers of bad news
  214. Is it time to get aboard the tariff band-waggon?
  215. Why farmers resent tariff protection for motor makers
  216. A sordid use of scare tactics
  217. Goods vs services
  218. Tariffs are hilariously counterproductive
  219. The dilemmas of Aboriginal Affairs
  220. Bert Kelly on decentralisation
  221. Inflation breeds moral decay
  222. Who envies equality?
  223. Growth – malignant or benign?
  224. Government wiser than Magna Carta
  225. Bert Kelly on looking to politicians for moral leadership
  226. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  227. Whitlam & co on the Dismissal
  228. 25% Tariff Cut
  229. Bert Kelly on pensions
  230. The plotting powers of Mavis nag martyr to snag compo
  231. The backseat drivers of the Pilbara
  232. Mr Clunies-Ross of the Cocos Islands should rule Australia
  233. They get the wind up when it changes
  234. Why the Big Green Lie survives
  235. Ross McLean in 1982: "Malcolm! Why don't we try good government? It might be popular."
  236. Bert Kelly on the importance of exchange rate movements
  237. Bert Kelly shows how to attack
  238. Bert Kelly vs Bert Kelly vs Bert Kelly
  239. Industrial relations dinosaur, Bruce, chews his cud
  240. Hooray for "firmly entrenched"!
  241. Respect your dinosaurs
  242. What if something is "deeply ingrained" yet harmful?
  243. A case for ministerial inertia
  244. Why politicians don't like the truth
  245. Punemployment: people are neither numbers nor puzzle pieces; the platitude attitude
  246. Our great open spaces ... an empty blessing
  247. Heart in right place but head missing
  248. Ominous dark clouds are gathering
  249. Better to be popular than right
  250. Crying in the wilderness
  251. Ivory tower needs thumping
  252. Bert Kelly asks, "How can you believe in free enterprise and government intervention at the same time?"
  253. Politicians get undeserved praise, why not undeserved blame too?
  254. Feet in a bucket of champagne
  255. Rural Problems
  256. Health cover needs a $30 excess clause
  257. Unholy state of taxation
  258. Boring economics worth a smile
  259. The Libido for the Miserable
  260. Agricultural Development and Tariffs
  261. Fred's too poor to have principles
  262. Eccles Law of the constant wage share
  263. "He whom the gods would destroy ..."
  264. Low tariff torch burnt Eccles' fingers
  265. A cow of a car — with dual horns
  266. Tariffs: when to wean infant BHP?
  267. Keep any government as far as possible from farming
  268. The Playford charade is out of date
  269. Bert Kelly: the odd man out who's now in
  270. Dries must resist giving up struggle as going gets tough
  271. How a well meaning Government can be so stupid
  272. The icing on the economic cake
  273. Sir Roderick Carnegie's foreword to Bert Kelly's Economics Made Easy
  274. The Vale of Popularity and the Protection Procession
  275. Politics 101: Pay Lip Service to Capitalism and Shoot the Messenger
  276. Bert Kelly makes politicians eat their own words on tariffs, then says, "We cannot be blamed for treating the statements of our statesmen with cynical contempt"
  277. Bert Kelly on Free Enterprise
  278. Cartoons of protected industry, the welfare teat and the nanny state
  279. Bert Kelly on the theory of constant shares and the Fabian Society
  280. Bert Kelly vs Doug Anthony
  281. You're lucky if you escape being helped by government
  282. Bert Kelly on Small Farmers
  283. Bert Kelly on Apathy
  284. Bert Kelly in 1967 on "problems of government and things like that"
  285. The last "Dave's Diary"
  286. Bert Kelly vs The Australian on tariffs in 1977
  287. Bounties or Tariffs, Someone Pays
  288. Geriatric companies without a minder
  289. A free marketeer wary of free trade
  290. Nixon's puzzling profession of faith
  291. "Ford ... seems to spend more time bending its knees than its back"
  292. Clyde Cameron's weak ways with wise words
  293. Why flaunt what others flout?
  294. Bert Kelly yearns for Tim Flannery's powers of prediction
  295. Looking after yourself is silly
  296. Bert Kelly masterpiece on drought, fire, flood and other natural disaster relief schemes
  297. Government can take credit for our car industry mess
  298. Car makers want the 4wd driven deeper into tariff bog
  299. Why our MP is no longer prone to a good sob story
  300. Auto industry is in a straitjacket
  301. Bert Kelly on market predictions
  302. Why should dryland farmers subsidise irrigation farmers?
  303. How much should government decrease incentive for independence from government?
  304. Clarkson crowned Deputy Government Whip
  305. Bert Kelly to blame for soaring government healthcare costs
  306. 1959 return of Dave's Diary
  307. Bert Kelly in 1966 on developing northern Australia
  308. Successful government intervention can [sic] occur
  309. Vernon Report upholds Clarkson
  310. Quiet Man Makes An Impact
  311. Should it be compulsory to buy footwear and clothing?
  312. To save Australian clothing industry women must all wear same uniform
  313. Don't confuse plucking heart strings with plucking harp strings
  314. Speech only for public
  315. Catchy Tariff Circus Extravaganza
  316. Bert Kelly in 1985 on cars yet again
  317. Hurrah for the Gang of Five
  318. Thoughts on a verse about Balfour
  319. Bert Kelly pep talk to politicians
  320. Government intervention = Agony postponed but death brought nearer
  321. Recipe for disaster: Freeze!
  322. Recipe for government intervention: Gather winners and scatter losers
  323. Recipe for industry destruction: Blanket market signals
  324. Mavis writes!
  325. Bert Kelly's empiricism is not kneejerk reaction kind
  326. The $2,000 song of the shirt worker
  327. Subsiding only small farmers means subsiding the big banks
  328. Difficult to be fast on your feet when you've got your ear to the ground
  329. It would surprise people to see how sensible MPs behave if they think they are not being watched
  330. Bert Kelly on "this land of limitless resources" and "great open spaces"
  331. Growing bananas at the South Pole
  332. Car components tariff protection under fire
  333. Why carry a $300m car subsidy?
  334. Tariff feather beds for the foreign giants
  335. Bert Kelly says end compulsory voting to stop donkey vote
  336. Perhaps being smart and insured isn't all luck
  337. You gets your tariff, you pays a price
  338. More funds to train Olympians?
  339. Fire in their guts and wind in ours
  340. Should free universal healthcare include pets?
  341. Sound advice from a modest farmer
  342. A tottering monument to intervention
  343. Cunning meets wisdom
  344. Competition, Aussie-style: Who's the bigger parasite?
  345. Australians are proud patriotic parasites, says Bert Kelly
  346. Taxpayer-funded sport is cheating
  347. Being loved by all is not always a good thing
  348. Welfare State Destroys Society
  349. 1980 Bert Kelly feather bed series
  350. The White Mice Marketing Board
  351. Government intervention and advice can be harmful, even when right, even for those it tries to help
  352. One small step on the compulsory voting landmine
  353. The free & compulsory education sacred cows have no clothes
  354. Holding a loaded wallet to an economist's head
  355. Political No Man's Land
  356. Only blind greed demands both equality and prosperity
  357. A cow that sucks itself — that's us!
  358. Nip the bud of incentive; mock community spirit into submission
  359. Bert Kelly questions why miners pay royalties to the Crown
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