Ministers would like nothing better than for journalists to stay indoors. Few newsrooms can afford to have journalists lying in wait for politicians who do not pick up the phone. Unfortunately for politicians the Parliament building does not have an underground car park so sometimes ministers can’t avoid annoying questions.

For just those situations they memorise a quick quip to get them out of sticky situations. They’re not always good.

Consider this one by Anton Refalo notorious for unlawfully keeping in his garden an antique item of street furniture from the Victorian era. He’s avoided prosecution and any form of consequence even though the artefact should be behind nobody’s closed door, let alone a government minister’s.

Anton Refalo has been in virtual hiding for months because of this bloody stone road sign. We have a minister in hibernation who keeps his head below the parapet just because he wants to survive in public life without having to give up his stolen treasure.

A reporter found him a couple of days ago and asked him about it. Out came Anton Refalo’s rehearsed quip: we should have a register of historical artefacts in private collections. Who asked him about that? Why is this an answer to the fact that he hid the artefact in his possession until a photo from up high revealed it decorating the deck by his swimming pool?

Anton Refalo’s solution could resolve all disputes about any stolen good. Steal jewellery from your neighbour but if you get caught, list it in a catalogue at the police station, and avoid having to give it back.

Perhaps Anton Refalo should suggest his solution to Rosianne Cutajar who yesterday also failed to avoid a reporter asking her questions about an audit report that found a government consultancy she was paid nearly 20,000 euro for was a “fraud”. The auditor found “no evidence” Rosianne Cutajar did any work. Rosianne Cutajar’s retort? Just because there’s no evidence she worked, doesn’t mean she didn’t.

Ah no, Ms Cutajar. This is where you wrongly assume that your pathological ignorance is not contagious. The argument “just because there’s no evidence, doesn’t mean it’s not there” does not apply here. You’re not being asked to prove some negative. Your defence would work if you were challenged to prove you were not an alien. Just because I can’t prove I’m an alien, doesn’t mean I’m one.

To prove you’ve done consultancy work for 20 grand should not be hard. There should be a trace of some drafts in your computer, some emails, someone’s memory of having answered your questions. If there’s nothing that must mean you’ve done nothing.

“It’s not true” was Rosianne Cutajar’s weak response to the demand she reacts to the Auditor’s findings. But she “hadn’t read them” yet. How’s that for proving a negative?

There’s one self-evident negative in this story. Twenty-thousand grand were paid to Rosianne Cutajar for doing bugger all. ITS should be suing her to recover them.

Or she can write down in a catalogue that she has them. And that would be all right. Anton Refalo thinks so.