Thirty nimbys and a greyhound take to the streets

By Mike Welsh City News

“If a costly citizens’ jury and a risky, interactive website are necessary, then the question begs, whatever happened to good old-fashioned grassroots listening?” asks Seven days columnist MIKE WELSH

Mike Welsh

Thirty Chapman nimbys, and a rescue greyhound, irate at a proposed public housing development on their patch marched 15 kilometres to Civic to deliver a petition containing 800 signatures to waiting (Liberal) MLAs Mark Parton, Jeremy Hanson and Giulia Jones.

TWO recent “listening” initiatives announced by ACT politicians might suggest a paradigm shift in the direction politicians now point their radars. If a costly citizens’ jury and a risky, interactive website are necessary, then the question begs, whatever happened to good old-fashioned grassroots listening?

Hot on the heels of the CM’s citizens’ jury concept, Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe has launched an interactive website designed to “empower the community”, “recognise the modern scourge of time poverty and allow the party to more broadly consult with the electorate”. Barr and Coe might need to be careful not to outsmart themselves.

john howard

The stellar career of one of the great sniffers of political winds, John Howard, quickly went downhill after he stopped keeping a practical ear to the ground.


CANBERRA-born sports reporter Erin Molan has been forced to pay a painful price for her success. The 34-year-old, who cut her teeth locally on WIN TV, has been drawn into a scandal via a court application for an AVO involving celebrity accountant and billionaire yatchsman Andrew Bell and his estranged wife.

An insinuation that Molan and Bell had an affair has been flatly denied by Molan, who tearfully told a “Footy Show” audience: “There is not one iota of truth to any of the speculation, it is not who I am and it is not how I was raised”.

A testament to the broad support the respected reporter enjoys was an on-air endorsement of her family’s moral fibre by influential broadcaster Alan Jones.

THE Queanbeyan-Palerang Shire clearly wants to have its cake and eat it, too, in the decentralisation debate – or at least be able to scavenge crumbs that may fall from the table.

Council administrator Tim Overall respects the status quo saying: “The national capital is where centralised government departments must be”. But Overall is selling the “opportunities Queanbeyan offers a range of smaller, less-significant-to-the-ACT” agencies. The shire recently greenlighted plans to build a state-of-the-art office complex complete with a smart hub to enable public servants to work remotely.

MEANTIME, the ACT branch of the Liberal Party has finally officially endorsed its opposition to the relocation of public service agencies. Relatively quiet on the issue to date, leader Alistair Coe is emphatic, saying: “Canberra is the home of the APS and APS jobs shouldn’t be seen by Federal governments, of either political stripe, as pawns to be moved around at any discretion.”

AN innovative business venture created by a Canberra family with a special needs member is rapidly gaining a national following. GG’s Flowers, set up by the Wijewickrema family and operated out of their Yarralumla home was featured on “The Feed”, the news, current affairs, and satire television on SBS Viceland. Nip Wijewickrema, 24, the 2016 ACT Young Australian of the Year, says the florist idea came about after concerns for the future employment possibilities for her 17-year-old sister Gayana, who has Down syndrome. GG’s Flowers now employs several people with special needs.

A DEDICATION to donating dictionaries to Dili has seen a Hawker man officially recognised. The Canberra Friends of Dili chapter presented Ron Robertson from Ron’s Book Shop with an award in appreciation of his commitment to the Dictionaries for Developing Countries program during which time Robertson has provided more than 600 dictionaries. Dierk von Behrens, from CFOD, says he saw a need after visiting a Dili school in 2006 that had 70 students but only one (spelling only) dictionary.

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