The workers in Printing and Proofing seem even more pious than Harvey McHugh (Aaron Blabey) – that is, until he accidentally discovers that they are selling government information to private investigators. His colleague Robertson (Richard Piper) explains what is going on.
The goal that propels Harvey forward is his ultimate desire to obtain a permanent position in the public service, a desire constantly thwarted by his own honesty. A key plot element and running joke, present in this scene, is his naïve discovery of scams, fraud and underhand dealings in every seemingly mundane corner of the public service that employs him. Here, this joke is emphasised by Harvey’s environment. The production design and cast make Printing and Proofing look like a quaint remnant of a bygone era, yet even here Harvey stumbles upon shady activities.
Robertson’s mild-mannered fussing and tea drinking give him a harmless appearance, superbly conveyed by Richard Piper’s performance. Just as a copy of the Bible is the last place you’d expect to find secret papers, Robertson’s office seems an unlikely cover for underhand activity, a juxtaposition that only adds to the comedy of the scene.