A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 17, 2014
“Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be”

"Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be” is a popular political philosophy in Australia. “Never hold an inquiry unless you know the outcome” was cited in an Australian newspaper in 1991. The adage is usually credited to Sir Humphrey Appleby, a character in the British sitcom Yes Minster (1980-1984) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986-1988). Queensland politican Russ Hinze (1919-1991) is sometimes credited for the adage.

From the Yes Minister episode “The Whiskey Priest,” December 16, 1982:

“A rule of government is never look into anything you don’t have to, never start an enquiry unless you know what its findings will be.”

American politics doesn’t have an exactly similar adage, but the American legal system does. Lawyers are often advised never to ask a question of a witness (on the stand in court) that the lawyer doesn’t already know the answer to. The political and legal adages mean that everything should be planned in advance and the outcome should never be a surprise.

[This entry was prepared with the research assistance of Hugo, as in the 2014 Twitter messages below.]


Wikipedia: Yes Minsiter
Yes Minister is a satirical British sitcom written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn that was first transmitted by BBC Television between 1980 and 1984, split over three seven-episode series. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, ran from 1986 to 1988. In total there were 38 episodes, of which all but one lasted half an hour. Several episodes were adapted for BBC Radio, and a stage play was produced in 2010, the latter leading to a new television series on UKTV Gold in 2013.
(...)
Sir Humphrey Appleby
Sir Humphrey Appleby, GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon) (Nigel Hawthorne) serves throughout the series as Permanent Secretary under his Minister, Jim Hacker at the Department of Administrative Affairs. He is appointed Cabinet Secretary just as Hacker’s party enters a leadership crisis, and is instrumental in Hacker’s elevation to Prime Minister.

Wikipedia: The Whisky Priest (Yes Minister)
“The Whisky Priest” is the twentieth episode of the BBC comedy series Yes Minister and was first broadcast 16 December 1982. The title refers to the term “whisky priest”.

Yes-Minister.com
998
01:12:29,846 --> 01:12:33,725
A rule of government is never look
into anything you don’t have to,

999
01:12:33,886 --> 01:12:37,356
never start an enquiry
unless you know what its findings will be.

The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
WA Inc leaves a trail of stains
Author: Duncan Graham
Date: 04/05/1991
Words: 1223
Publication: SUNDAY AGE
Page: 8
The inquiry has brought the destruction of a leader who once carried the banner of Labor into great victories. “Never hold an inquiry unless you know the outcome.” THE former Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, forgot that political adage when he loosed a royal commission on the Painters and Dockers Union to expose dockfront rorts.

Google Books
Australia Rebuilds:
The Recovery We Had to Have

By Steven Burrell and Michael Stutchbury
Australia: Financial Review
1994
Pg. 185:
There is an old political adage that a government should never hold an inquiry unless it knows what the answers will be.

The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
WA pays a high price for truth
Author: Duncan Graham
Date: 09/07/1995
Words: 1148
Publication: The Age
Section: Features
Page: 11
The $1.5-million royal commission into the Easton affair begins in Perth next week. Duncan Graham explains the background to the hurly- burly.
“Never hold an inquiry unless you know the result.”—Political philosophy espoused in the ABC TV program `Yes Minister’.

ReoCities
15 August 1997
Freddy Evans
PO Box 7075
ToowoombaQLD4352
AUSTRALIA
(...)
Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s advice — Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome is going to be — seems to fit this situation.

journlaw
SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 · 2:12 PM
Why the Australian Government’s media inquiry is fraught
By MARK PEARSON
(...)
Yes, Prime Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby advised: ‘Never hold an inquiry unless you know what its outcomes will be’.

Big Bobs Fan Club
January 3, 2012
“Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be”
By bigbobsfanclub
Russ Hinze was a conservative country politician from Queensland, Australia.  A bit Boss Hogg you might say.
He was notoriously tough on the old law and order jaw-jaw , but was even more notorious for his rather blind eyes.

The Australian
Gillard trapped by inquiry on border protection
AUGUST 14, 2012 12:00AM
SIR Humphrey Appleby, the fictional adviser in Yes Minister, gave the advice: “Never hold an inquiry unless you know what its outcomes will be”.

Google Books
Chaos at the Crossroads:
The Birth of Dads on the Air

By William John Stapleton
A Sense of Place Publishing
2013
Pg. 2004:
The old rule of government, never hold an inquiry unless you know the answer, was in full play.

Twitter
Martyn Ridley
‏@Altraider
“Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be” #RussHinze
http://www.thefullwiki.org/Russ_Hinze
#QLD #corruption #LNPdna
3:16 PM - 29 Jan 2014

Twitter
Hugo
‏@hugovk
@barrypopik “A rule of government is ... never start an enquiry unless you know what its findings will be.” http://www.yes-minister.com/ym3x06-3x07-4.srt
4:10 PM - 18 Feb 2014

Twitter
Hugo
‏@hugovk
@barrypopik Found it, at about 11m40s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osoF7nzSy2At=11m30s
12:05 AM - 19 Feb 2014

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, February 17, 2014 • Permalink