DR Kerry Phelps dominated parliament’s return. Understandable given her historic victory in the Sydney seat of Wentworth.D
But in reality, the GP is more at home in Canberra than most political newbies thanks to her time as Federal president of the AMA more than a decade ago. Phelps didn’t waste time getting back into the real business of the “bubble”. Delivering her maiden speech Monday, she was on the lawns of Parliament House Tuesday addressing two rallies, posing with a baby and hanging out with a rock star. A quick learner, this new kid.
Dr Phelps spoke to healthcare professionals and supporters at the Protect the Children, Act on Climate rally before shifting to the adjacent and better subscribed Kids Off Nauru protest. A staged huddle with fellow independents including Andrew Wilkie, Rebekha Sharkie and Derryn Hinch sent a message back up the hill as Phelps accepted a petition from school students. Then as she and her new besties turned to trek back to the house Phelps spotted cameras again, adroitly changed direction, wrestled a plastic box (containing the petition) from Andrew Wilkie and posed for the umpteenth photo of the day. All this before noon.
JIMMY Barnes, his wife Jane Mahoney and their elderly, diabetic, schnauzer “Ollie” rocked up to add their voices to the message being sent to the Morrison government. An angry Barnes said as an immigrant himself he was “ashamed” mainstream politicians had not bothered to attend the rally. For Jane it was a return to her hometown. A diplomat’s daughter, she grew up in the inner-south suburb of Curtin, attending Girls Grammar and the ANU.
ONE political player who certainly knows her way around Canberra was also back. Bronwyn Bishop, who wrote the book on how to get noticed in Canberra, was in town for her portrait unveiling as part of the Speakers’ collection. Arriving in 1987 as a senator, moving to the lower house in the ’90s, Bishop’s long public career is impressive and colourful but it’s the manner in which she was removed from Parliament – “Choppergate” – that hovers over her history.
TWO former Canberrans have experienced the inevitable insecurity of a political career. Retired Maj-Gen Jim Molan’s Senate career is all but over after the NSW Liberal Party relegated him to the “unwinnable” spot on the forthcoming ticket. And former Canberra sex-industry lobbyist Fiona Patten is struggling to hold her Victorian Upper House seat, although the Reason Party leader doesn’t need to join a Centrelink queue just yet. Victorious Labor premier Daniel Andrews has come to her aid describing Patten as “a loss to the parliament”, adding “I’m sure we could find her some different roles”.
CANBERRA ABC TV news anchor Dan Bourchier came to the rescue of the 7pm NSW bulletin after “embarrassing technical glitches”. It’s not the first time the multi-talented personality, who also hosts the local 666 breakfast radio show, has been dropped in the deep end at the last minute. Viewers heard the voice of the NSW presenter in the background as an apologetic Bourchier came on screen and soldiered on through the debacle which insiders claim is the result of a new automated editing system.
CROSS-border rivalry will reach fever pitch in Launceston next year as the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre and the Yass Valley Information Centre vie for a national title at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. The Yass body won gold for the best provider of Information Services at the NSW tourism awards and joins the ACT and other jurisdictions for the national award on March 1.