“Seven Days” columnist MIKE WELSH reflects on another astonishing week in the nation’s capital.
MOTHER Nature has been giving the capital a decent whack. Early week high temperatures suddenly plummeted with snow forecast for the Brindabellas while bushfires loomed around Braidwood. A dust storm became a smoke haze and high winds whipped up a “swell” on Lake Burley Griffin.
STILL on matters meteorological, spare a thought for the skywriter tasked with the relatively simple job of writing “Thanks Team”. A rare window opened on Wednesday between heavy dust storms and thick smoke haze, offering clear blue skies. Not wishing to pan the penmanship of the pilot, but by the time they began “team”, “thanks” resembled an ultrasound image.
MAJOR players in Canberra’s building industry are crying foul over pressure from the Barr government to run dodgy builders out of town. The directors say the government’s approach is “misdirected”, suggesting it should “stop hassling head office and get out on construction sites if it wants to improve building quality”.
Barry Morris, director of the Morris Property Group, says: “Developers were not to blame for problems around building quality. The ACT government is going the wrong way on the food chain.”
Is it possible the local construction industry has fallen victim to TBS (Tall Building Syndrome)?
ON the lawns of Parliament House, local students participated in a Climate Classroom Rally. Organisers say “the aim of the action is to show the Australian Parliament what real democracy looks like; teaching each other about climate crisis and working together as an inclusive community.” The Prime Minister was invited but due to a constant caning inside a stunt double was wheeled out.
ALL the usual cliches, from “rumbles” through to a “united party” were also wheeled out in the days following reports of a local Liberal leadership spill. A small number of “disaffected” members, concerned they couldn’t win the 2020 election with ultra-conservative Alistair Coe, were reportedly urging Elizabeth Lee to step up.
A self-imposed confidentiality agreement prevents me from naming who I believe would lead the local Libs out of the wilderness. However, if the “status Coe” remains we will miss the rare opportunity of having the nation’s first colour-blind, race-calling, ex-radio announcer as CM, and may be forced to endure the spectacle of a rebranded Alistair (“call me Al”) Coe in a baseball cap, thumbs up, drinking beer with randoms at sporting events for the next 12 months.
NOT missing the free kick, Chief Minister Andrew Barr offered a running commentary on the disharmony, describing the libs as “the most right wing of any party room in Australia”, adding Alistair Coe “is the most conservative leader the Liberals have ever had”.
ACT Greens leader Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury will be looking for 2019 to end. The member for Molonglo has had a horror year with attacks coming from all sides, mostly over his handling of the troublesome Alexander Maconochie Centre.
Nicknamed “the rat” by local greyhound trainers protesting a ban on their sport in 2017, the MLA will be hoping 2020, “the year of the rat”, will bring relief.
INTERNATIONAL diplomacy comes in many forms but it’s unusual for an ambassador to be bagging his country’s capital. The latest round of Canberra Bashing came from veteran diplomat Gary Quinlan, our ambassador to Indonesia.
Responding to a question at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club about plans to move Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to the island of Kalimantan, Quinlan said Canberra was “one of the biggest national mistakes we ever made”. Quinlan warned a lesson locals could learn from the Canberra model is it was too spread out in the early days and “had no natural centre”.
WHILE Mr Quinlan may have fallen out of love with Canberra one tech giant is keen to look deeper into our city. An Apple Maps white Subaru with what appears to be an R2D2 type robot strapped to its roof has been cruising around gathering images and information for its new “Look Around” feature.