By Mike Welsh -August 5, 2019Share Canberra’s trusted news:

Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH reckons it’s getting longer to get around Canberra and the latest national data backs him up.

A LONG daily commute, once only a hassle for big city folks is now apparently an issue here.

The latest national data reveals Canberrans are spending more than double the time getting to work than in 2002.

Arriving in 2003, I often heard the comforting comment: “Nowhere in Canberra is more than 25 minutes away”.

Call me a pedant but I left Mitchell at 9am last Wednesday bound for Reid and made the rookie mistake of taking the light rail-clogged Northbourne Avenue. The 10.5-kilometre journey took 30 minutes. Not serious, but a worrying sign of things to come.

SPEAKING of long commutes, the Bish is back in Canberra, at least on a part-time basis. The WA-based, former deputy Liberal leader ​Julie Bishop​ is to become the ANU’s first female chancellor. Ms Bishop, who won’t take up the position until January, has already been drawn into a scandal that has plagued the prestigious tertiary institution for years.

In 2017, the Human Rights Commission rated the ANU as having double the national average of sexual violence on campus. While welcoming her appointment, two student associations see the former foreign minister’s appointment as “an opportunity to lead the nation in ending sexual violence at Australian universities”.

Lopped and gone… Manuka’s famous plane tree. ​Photo: Mike Welsh

AFTER almost four years of expensive legal squabbles it took mere hours to fell a controversial plane tree hampering a developer’s plans to stimulate business in Manuka. A small crowd assembled on Franklin Street to witness a dexterous demonstration of lopping and slicing by a skilled arborist and team. Most had dispersed by the time the once familiar canopy was no more than a trunk hauled high into the sky by a large crane that then dumped it into a chipping machine.

There was a mixture of comments from those watching. One forthright gentleman in his early 70s unambiguously and loudly suggested “that f…ing tree should have been ripped down four years ago”. However a carefree, millennial woman, suddenly halted by the roar of the chainsaw, exclaimed: “Oh, my god, I thought they had already saved that tree”.

MEANTIME, while Manuka traders are very keen to see the once posh precinct rejuvenated, some are unhappy to rise again under the banner of a tantrum-throwing toddler who sits in Washington’s Oval Office. Morris Property Group, which is developing the old Stuart Flats, has borrowed ​Donald Trump’s​ successful election campaign mantra “Make America Great Again” and is flogging red baseball caps with the slogan “Make Manuka Great Again”.

Loved and gone… Jimmy Barnes with his late dog “Ollie”. ​Photo: Mike Welsh

AT last November’s Kids off Nauru rally at Parliament House I spotted a grumpy looking schnauzer. As the human at the end of its lead squatted down to coax the recalcitrant “Ollie” to pose, I recognised him as Australian rock legend ​Jimmy Barnes​. Sadly, Ollie died last week revealing his hard-rocking master’s soft heart. In a double blow for Barnsie, who lost another dog recently, he tweeted: “Today I lost Oliver. Now both my darling boys are gone. Everything hurts and life will never be the same again. Fly away boys, dad loves you”.

THERE appears to be a distinct lack of sympathy around Canberra for Federal politician ​Barnaby Joyce​. Joyce’s financial bottom line has apparently taken a massive hit after, to use an analogy his New England constituents would understand, he “jumped the fence”. The former accountant should have known that multiplying is more costly than dividing or subtracting.

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