By Mike Welsh


JULY 13, 1997, is a day most Canberrans won’t forget, particularly those in the estimated 100,000-strong crowd lining Lake Burley Griffin to witness the planned implosion of the Canberra Hospital.

The event, promoted as a “family day”, turned tragically catastrophic as metal and concrete rained down on spectators, some a kilometre away.
Twenty years on, one Harrison man remembers telling his 1.9-metre (6′ 2”) tall son to sit down so those behind could witness the spectacle. Minutes later a piece of steel flew over his head fatally striking 12-year-old Katie Bender, sitting with her family just metres behind him.

CANBERRA’S “internet sensation”, ABC political reporter Chris Uhlmann, is seeking anonymity in Paris. Uhlmann’s piece for “Lateline” from the G20 summit, which included the stinging assessment of President Donald Trump as ”isolated and friendless”, pushing “fast-forward on the decline of the United States as a global leader”, copped 10 million views on social media. The reporter is relaxing with his wife, member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, in the city of love after being the uncomfortable focus of a social media storm.

STILL on POTUS and a woollen beanie with cat ears, which emerged as a symbol of President Trump’s “pussygate” tapes during recent International Women’s Day marches, is being utilised as a fundraiser for an anti-domestic violence campaign in Canberra. About 20 local knitters have volunteered to produce the beanies, with the Pussy Hat Project founder Stephen Lawton urging more knitters to come on board with the assurance: “It only takes four to six hours to complete a beanie from a relatively simple kit”.

EIGHT years ago the then ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell cryptically claimed there were “different ways to skin a cat” after rejecting a national call for uniformity on outlaw motorcycle gang consorting laws.
Corbell upped the ante slightly in 2014: “While the level of activity by OMCGs was low in the ACT, Canberra was not immune to the influence or activity of these gangs.”
A string of arson attacks and drive-by shootings in the south of Canberra in recent weeks might suggest that pussy still has its pelt.

A PIECE of public art “planted” by the side of the Barton Highway is attracting hundreds of curious onlookers and plenty of commentary before its official unveiling on Thursday.
“Forgotten 2004”, by local artist Melanie Lyons, is a reference to roadside floral memorials and pays tribute to those who have died in road accidents. One local who pulled in to examine the three-metre-tall sculpture at the Jeir Creek rest area sneered: “The money would be better spent on the highway”.

ON A slightly different note of artistic expression, the government is boasting the value of employing a full-time graffiti co-ordinator. Patrick Nolan, Transport and City Services planning manager, says a drop in the number of complaints and requests to remove illegal graffiti proves the co-ordinator role is paying dividends.
With an annual bill of $500,000 to remove illegal graffiti, Nolan says “by engaging with young people we are reducing a lot of tagging”.

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MLA Mark Parton’s confession to a gambling issue as a young man may have strengthened his profile, but it’s also drawn criticism from a skeptical Prof Laurie Brown, a gambling addict who lost more than $400,000 on the pokies. The UC academic says the comparison by the opposition gaming and racing spokesman of his “problem” with her addiction is “disingenuous” and “a long way from people who become addicted to today’s hi-tech pokies”.


ANIMAL welfare group Animal Protectors Alliance has described the government’s stats from the 2017 kangaroo cull as “codswallop” and accused it of gross exaggeration.
Spokesperson Robyn Soxsmith says: “The government has lied about so many aspects of its killing program, we can only assume that, by massively exaggerating the numbers they have killed this year, they hope to keep up the pretence that there are still plenty of kangaroos around”.

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