“Andrew Barr’s half-hearted contrition over his comments only serves to enhance his reputation for political aloofness and arrogance,” writes Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH


CHIEF Minister Andrew Barr continues a petulant tradition set by his political predecessors with embarrassing, leaked audio of the CM confessing to a communications industry function that “I hate journalists” and “I’m over mainstream media”.

Barr seems hell-bent on eclipsing Jon Stanhope who blackballed my 2CC colleague Mike Jeffreys for a month. Stanhope’s successor Katy Gallagher, on Stanhope’s advice, put me “in the freezer” for an unspecified period in response to some rarely applied scrutiny. Barr’s half-hearted contrition over his comments only serves to enhance his reputation for political aloofness and arrogance.

MEANTIME, Barr – possibly the nation’s least known political leader – has predictably become its most mocked in mainstream media. Former Hawke and Keating governments’ minister, Graham Richardson, commentating on Sky News, offered sage political advice to the autocratic Barr: “When you are in a one-paper-town declaring war on the one paper is not very smart”.

The legendary Labor Yoda, succinctly signed off with: “You’re an idiot, pal.”

INTERNATIONAL hot-air balloon experts have labelled our spectacular as “distinctive”. Assistant event director Les Purfield told the ABC that unlike other ballooning events “people in Canberra can actually get close to the balloons”. Among the 30 balloons from around the world were the American entrants Kermit the Frog and Jewel the hummingbird – one of the biggest balloons to fly in Canberra – attracting plenty of attention.


Owners of “Kermie”, New York twin brothers Todd and Scott Monahan, say the Canberra event is “a unique situation. In New York we could never fly so close to any sort of governmental place – that would be a real taboo”.

SCORES of Canberrans who embraced the Enlighten festival are also slightly “lighter” in the pocket. As with many recent large events in the capital, a lack of parking was again an issue with frustrated motorists tempted to break the law. The most common penalty handed out around King Edward Terrace, Parkes, was $117.

SERIAL Canberra basher Miranda Devine has woven two stories involving Christians and cops to take a slap at the AFP. The conservative newspaper columnist merged the tales of charges being dismissed against three Canberrans arrested outside a local abortion clinic and a van set alight near the Deakin HQ of the Australian Christian Lobby in 2016. Devine tweeted: “This is what constitutes a crime in Canberra – watch the arrest of an elderly Christian man sitting quietly on a public bench opposite an abortion clinic praying discreetly. Yet the same ACT police told media a targeted bombing of the Australian Christian Lobby HQ was a ‘car fire’.”

RECOGNISED as an early adopter of drone technology, Canberra has been chosen for a first in fast-food delivery. Approval has been granted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for the first urban drone delivery trial with Project Wing about to lift-off in Bonython. The drones, weighing over five kilograms with a wingspan of a metre, hover 30 metres above a delivery site winching their payload down to the customer. As testing nears, some locals have privacy issues. But CASA’s communications manager Peter Gibson says: “You don’t own the airspace over your property so privacy issues are no different to aircraft flying over.”

SA lawyer Adam Richards and his 14-year-old son Ned Thorn have repeated their walk to Canberra, this year from Sydney, to highlight the plight of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. Unlike February 2017, when the pair walked from Adelaide, there was a disappointingly small band of supporters to greet them. Richards blames Pauline Hanson for the lack of political action on refugees. “Our politicians are addicted to mistreating people for votes,” he says.


AND before we get swept up in Andrew Barr’s brave new media world, this old-school medium outside BentSpoke’s brewery in Braddon requires neither filter nor media management.

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