Comets are icy bodies in space that release gas or dust. They are often compared to dirty snowballs, though recent research has led some scientists to call them snowy dirtballs. Comets contain dust, ice, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and more. Astronomers think comets are leftovers from the material that initially formed the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
Wikipedia adds to the metaphor for the slimeballs at Thiess.
A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when passing close to the Sun, warms and begins to release gases, a process called outgassing. This produces a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail.
Thiess, the icy small body that when exposed to the Sun releases gas - it sometimes has a tail and is often in a coma, particularly when it comes to corruption.
This is an extract from the Australian Dictionary of Biographies curated by the Australian National University for Sir Leslie Colin Thiess.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy’s devastation of Darwin in December 1974, next month the Whitlam Federal government appointed Thiess as chairman of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. Controversy quickly arose over the question of Thiess Bros’ tendering for contracts. Thiess found it intolerable that his firm might be denied work as a result of a perceived conflict of interest on his part, and he resigned in March. In the 1970s he appeared to be winding down his business involvement. He relinquished office as managing director of Thiess Toyota in 1976, and as chairman of Thiess Bros in 1978. His career seemed to be over when CSR Ltd succeeded in a hostile takeover, gaining a majority of shares in Thiess Holdings in 1979. Although Leslie remained on the board, the other former directors retired. He was not finished as an entrepreneur, however. His family company, Drayton Investments Pty Ltd, joined with Westfield Ltd and Hochtief AG to buy back the construction division of Thiess Holdings from CSR.
At the age of seventy-two Thiess formed with BP Australia Ltd and Westfield Ltd a consortium which, in 1981, beat thirty-one other tenderers to develop a new central Queensland coalfield, Winchester South. Opponents of the Queensland government questioned the propriety of the tender process as the Thiess group's proposal was not the most financially advantageous to the State. A Labor politician, R. J. Gibbs, alleged in State parliament that Jack Woods, the director-general of mines, had holidayed at Thiess's beach house shortly before the tenders were considered. In another business combination, the Thiess Watkins Group, Thiess won the licence for a casino in Townsville, and his tenders were accepted for a number of government constructions, including prisons and the project management of the 'Expo ’88’ site in Brisbane.
There was a hint of personal scandal in 1982 when a Labor front-bencher, Kevin Hooper, linked Thiess’s name in parliament with a paternity case brought by a Qantas hostess. His name arose again in Tony Fitzgerald’s (1987–89) commission of inquiry into corruption. Among his findings, Fitzgerald determined that Thiess had made dubious gifts to a government minister, Russell Hinze, taking the form of unsecured loans from Thiess subsidiary companies. Much worse followed in August 1989, when the journalist Jana Wendt broke a story on Channel 9's A Current Affair alleging that Thiess had bribed Premier (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen, an old friend and business acquaintance, to gain the controversial Winchester South project, the Expo ’88 deal, and other contracts.
Unwisely, Thiess sued Channel 9, Wendt, and a former Thiess Watkins employee, Ron Woodham, for defamation. The court case from January to April 1991 aired his business and political dealings over many years. A pantheon of leading Australians, Gough Whitlam among them, gave him character references. The jury found that he had been defamed, and awarded him a pyrrhic $55,050 in damages, but concluded that thirteen out of twenty-one claims in the Channel 9 story were true. Not only had Thiess bribed Bjelke-Petersen with gifts—including an aircraft hangar and equipment repairs—worth nearly $1 million to secure government contracts, but he had also defrauded a Japanese business partner, Kumagai Gumi, and other shareholders in his companies.
With that judgment Thiess 'lost the good name he had built over a lifetime of achievement’ (Walker 1991, 5). He insisted he had done nothing corrupt, believing that his gifts had been within the norms of rural business mateship from an earlier era. Even more unwisely, he appealed to the Full Court, which in 1992 dismissed his appeal and awarded most of the costs against him. In poor health, he withdrew completely from public life.
Thiess’s entrepreneurship had brought him enormous wealth and influence. He built his empire on a personal combination of business acumen, energy, austerity, self-sufficiency, and family solidarity, qualities evident from his teenage years. He gained many clients through his reputation for economy and reliability: consistently undercutting his competitors' prices but finishing projects on time. All his business activities were underpinned by his capacity for grasping the potential of new technologies, which kept his companies at the forefront of the civil engineering, construction, and mining industries for fifty years. By the time his business affairs came under scrutiny in 1981, it is evident that he had established a pattern of regularly obtaining Queensland government contracts through his closeness to politicians and officials, and sometimes by means of inducements.
And, lest Sir Colin's rest is disturbed by the idea that his successors had lost the touch, here are some reassuring recent references.