Loose cannons


No cheap stuff

"If you buy cheap stuff, it looks awful, it chips and breaks. It is difficult to get, as distinct from 50 years ago." — Kevin Rozzoli, speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly, explaining the need to spend $180,000 for fine bone china crockery for the parliamentary dining room.

Not yet

"This is not a banana republic. This is not Haiti. This is not Guatemala." — US Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, attacking a statement by Republican Senator Jesse Helms that President Clinton "better have a bodyguard" to visit Helms' home state of North Carolina.

Welcome to the Free World

"In 1989, Eastern Europe had a billion dollar trade surplus with the OECD countries, mainly the EU. By last year this had turned into an $8 billion deficit." — Ian Taylor in the Guardian, reprinted in the November 24 Sydney Morning Herald.

Democracy of one

"They can speculate all they like, but I have the support of the prime minister." — Deputy PM Brian Howe on rumours he would be pushed aside to make room for Carmen Lawrence.


"Today we are friends with the French and Germans across the continent and we don't wish to go back to the broad-brush old-fashioned prejudices of the kind which used to do Europe so much harm." — Kenneth Clarke, British minister for finance, after Conservative Party vice chairperson Patrick Nicholls published a newspaper article calling France "a nation of collaborators" and saying that Germany's contribution to Europe was two world wars.

Not quite right

"Federal Express does ship nuclear materials, and [it has] hazardous materials experts who do know what to do in these cases. In this case they didn't do it right." — A spokesperson at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA, after receiving an army shipment of 500 grams of deadly plutonium, shipped by air contrary to safety regulations.