Monday, October 1, 2012

How to give a DFAT official a heart attack

Overhead in the “Corridors of Power” the other day:

One of the DFAT officers gets a phone call from the Indian equivalent of DFAT (MEA). Nothing out of the ordinary so far. The person is asking for information about a ministerial visit - specifically the Minister for Innovation who’s arriving that night.

DFAT official frantically starts going through all memories in their head of upcoming ministerial visits (of which there are a few) & cannot recall any mention of the Minister for Innovation visiting.

Not wanted to sound as though they know nothing about their own ministers visiting, said DFAT official tells the MEA official they will call them back after checking a few things at this end.

Thus begins frantic running around the corridors of power & phone calls to all the departments asking the question – “Do you know anything about the Minister for Innovation arriving tonight ??”

After a few minutes of denials & much shaking of heads, it dawned on the official that something was “not quite right”.

The first fact: no-one knew anything about Greg Combet turning up – either poor planning on the High Commission side (not likely) or he wasn’t turning up (more likely).

Second fact: the MEA official mentioned that they’d spoken to a “Karen”. We have no Karens working in the High Commission.

After further digging, the suggestion was made that maybe MEA are taking about the Austrian Minister for Innovation.

Queue light bulb moment.

A call back to said MEA official & it turns out that they were, in fact, talking about the Austrian Innovation minister NOT the Australian Innovation minister.

DFAT official can breathe normally now !!

So…if you want to give a DFAT official at post a heart attack, just ask them about a ministerial visit they don’t know about & wait for the reaction.

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