THE MOST DANGEROUS AIR ANYWHERE

As a result of relentless NSW bushfires we have some seriously deady air here in the capital.

The official reading has been rated as “the worst in the world”. The IQAir AirVisual website, which collates air quality information globally, ranked the nation’s capital above “the likes of Kolkata and Delhi in India”.

New Years Eve in Harrison ACT
A screenshot of the IQAir AirVisual rankings at 9:30am on Wednesday.

Many Canberrans have opted to wear a facemask when venturing out. There was a long queue of locals outside a suburban building supply company at 7am today wanting to stock up on heavy duty face masks which had already run dry at Bunnings and other retail outlets. But things get serious tomorrow (Sat Jan 4) when the temperature is predicted to reach 42 degrees and stong winds are forecast.

Shoppers in Civic taking no chances with poor air quality

Chief Minister Barr has declared a “state of alert” as a “precaution” in the event of a local bushfire threat

For most of the year Canberrans, like many in other parts of Australia have staged rallies protesting the inaction of the LNP government on climate change.

Canberran Emily who suffers from a chest complaint is very concerned and frightened about the quality of the air, described the recent days as “apocalyptic and just foreshadowing how much we have let go in terms of what we really value”.

EMILY

HAPPY NEW EAR BASHING FROM 2GB

 

The last time I heard the word emasculated in a radio station was over 30 years ago. And I had to consult a dictionary. An enterprising PD (Program Director for Millenials) at the then chronically under-resourced 7AD Devonport swapped some unwanted record stock for a record player for the station’s library. But when the branded vinyl began popping up at a second hand store a member of the family which owned the network was most unimpressed with the “emasculation” of the station’s music library.

 

 

According to a few industry experts the once rightwing Sydney based broadcasting powerhouse 2GB has also been emasculated. But the alleged neutering is not in the station’s record library. It’s its raison d’etre , its talkers.

2GB, now part of the rebranded Nine media family which includes the perennial Melbourne ratings dominator 3AW, has apparently become burdened by the weight of relentless rightwing ranting, to the extent that the new owners are ‘re-positioning’ the station in order to attract a younger female audience.

Recovering night-time rightwing ranter/infomercial wizard Steve Price, who recently replaced the punted afternoon lightweight loudmouth Chris Smith, was quickly punted himself. Price is to be replaced in 2020 by Deb Knight, freshly punted herself from Nine’s Today breakfast TV settee.

A meme from social media

Meanwhile, down south at 3AW the inoffensive former Young Talent Timer Denis Walter was “reclocated” from his longtime afternoon slot to nights to make way for another female presenter Dee Dee Dunleavy in 2020.

 

Will the “emasculation” of commercial talk radio be successful? Not at 2GB at least and 3AW is a vastly different beast. As different to 2GB as Melbourne is to Sydney.

One longtime Sydney talk radio insider is not optimistic about ratings sucess with the new touch, suggesting “nice doesn’t get numbers “.

People listen to 2GB for the hate it radiates. Melbournians have been accustomed to 3AW’s balanced, intelligent and quality talk back broadcasting for decades and don’t seem to have a problem with “ladies” on the wireless.

Already 2GB’s Ray Hadley, diligently striving to project himself as a softer, kinder human being after one too many bullying incidents, is losing audience share. The former racecaller ended 2018 with a healthy 17.9% share of the Sydney mob. But ended this year with a much softer 13.8%.

And the unchallenged headmaster of the school of shockjocks Alan Jones spent most of 2019 witnessing his once almost 20% audience share vapourise. He also has the humiliating, for him, “one more slip of your acid tongue and you’re out” caveat hanging over his head.

 

While 3AW’s numbers appear to be stable, putting a stockinged ‘sock in it’ at 2GB is going to be problematic and radically recalibrating the right wing ranting richter scale will be tricky.

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THE SUMMER JORIAN GARDNER SPENT AS A LONELY SHOCKJOCK

FROM Canberra CIty News Jan 2011

GOOD Morning… it’s Jorian Gardner filling in for Mark Parton and Mike Welsh over summer on the Breakfast and Drive shows on Talking Canberra 1206 2CC. 

Today on the program… the third spear carrier to the left in a new amateur production of “Cats” will join us; the homeless guy who lives outside the Canberra Centre – what are his political views? And, don’t miss this one, but I will have live in the studio today – that’s right LIVE! – an exclusive with that guy who washes your windscreens whether you like it or not on the corner of Northbourne and Wakefield Avenues in Dickson. An interview not to miss!

Ahh, summer. While the big guns get to retire to their summer homes down the coast or somewhere in Europe, it’s yours truly who’s left to carry the can and provide the good people of the national capital with quality talkback.

But you all know Canberra don’t you? It’s a veritable ghost town from just before Christmas to basically the end of January – which just happens to coincide with when I am on air.

Pollies, business people and pretty much anyone with a life (obviously, that’s not me) clear out of the capital for summer, leaving me with a roster of guests that’s about as long as the list of friends of Kyle Sandilands!

But fear not talkback lovers – I relish a challenge, and while everyone else might be in holiday mode, I will be scouring the news and getting the guests on that matter.

It’s lonely at 3.30am in the studio, especially in the Silly Season when interview subjects are either hung-over or still drinking. But necessity is certainly the mother of invention and no topic is too large – or for that matter too small – for me to tackle, so expect some, ummm, “surprising” guests.

“Welcome to the program Guido the office cleaner, who’s going to tell us, for the next hour, how recycling really works!”

But seriously, I am not worried about summer on 2CC, there will be still be great interviews, music, comedy and news and more. The season gives me more time to spend talking with the people who do matter – my listeners.

The stark, and unfortunate, reality of an Australian summer is that there will be bushfires and floods and accidents and all manner of tragedy that the media will report on.

But let’s really hope you are listening to me interviewing that third spear carrier from the left, because that will mean that those horrible summer catastrophes aren’t happening.

HOW SCOMO REALLY GOT THE GIG


Originally published in 2018

OPPOSITION LEADER BILL SHORTEN WILL NEVER BE PRIME MINISTER, IF A LITTLE KNOWN BUT FATAL POLITICAL CURSE STILL EXISTS.

For two weeks in April 2006 the then trade unionist embedded himself in the nation’s psyche from the top of a gold mine in Beaconsfield Tasmania as international media broadcast the gripping story of two miners trapped below. 

Returning to the Apple Isle to campaign for the July 28 by-election in the seat of Braddon Shorten was seriously rebuffed after only 30 locals attended a Devonport chamber of commerce sponsored “working lunch” on July 4. What Bill, or his advisers ignored was the “Devonport curse”. If Devonport rejects you, you are toast.



 It was in the coastal port hub on Melbourne Cup day 1984 that the curse first materialised. Then federal opposition leader and conservative pin-up boy Andrew Peacock, dropped in to campaign for the Dec 1 federal poll before flying back to Melbourne to watch the big two miler at Flemington.

I was the mid-morning announcer on radio 7AD and the “Kooyong Colt” was scheduled for a 10 am in-studio chat.

By the time Peacock entered the studio he was 25 mins late and livid. In a huddle with advisers a frustrated Peacock muttered the F word several times- thankfully not on air-but not detected by the  30 strong media pack which had crammed into the antiquated 7AD studios. The source of Peacock’s fit of pique was also the reason for his tardiness. In the Rooke St Mall below, party flunkies had frantically but unsuccessfully searched for a local who either recognised the man who was heading for the Lodge or was prepared to participate in a photo opportunity.

On air I urged callers to “keep their questions short” as our guest had “a horse race to get to”.  A member of the traveling media pack joked in the Australian the following day that “Announcer Mike Welsh needed not to have bothered with a brevity plea to open line callers as there were none”.

Whether that part of the nation which is stopped by a race had already downed tools, or the people of Devonport had decided Peacock’s birthright to rule was dead in the water, is unclear but Black Knight won the cup and in less than a month Bob Hawke was re-elected Prime Minister. Opposition leaders curse or coincidence?

I KNEW A GIRL WHO KILLED A WILD PIG

“ Bounding through the bush, knife drawn, in pursuit of an angry and unpredictable boar; Gary Abblett became a blur amid the trees moving expertly across uneven terrain. Such was his strength and primal instincts”  …….“Playing God”  The Rise and Fall of Gary Abblett. (Garry Linnell)

Pretty impressive story ???. Well I thought so, that is until I heard the story about a girl I know doing something very similar. What if I told you she is ……”Feminine, petite, slight and gentle, less than 162 cm tall and weighing 50kgs- the size of your average Feral Pig”?

And Abblett was one described by Journalist Andrew Rule thus ….. knotted muscles and raw bones…. thighs like turkey drumsticks, his neck buttressed with a sloping ridge of muscle that links long, powerful arms. Like a silverback gorilla…”.

The difference is our heroine was not among of a bunch of hairy males packed into an old ute hunting Feral pigs for sport. Hearing the familiar but frightening noise of a wild pig and hunting dog locked in a stand-off, she was forced to engage a dormant primal instinct in order to protect an animal (the hunting dog she loved) from certain death.

One of her husband’s hunting dogs had escaped its compound and had cornered a wild pig behind a 2 metre high fence at the back of the small acreage the family shared on the outskirts of a rural village.

Unable to see exactly what was going on she knew she must act and quickly.

She rang her husband at work who told her that she MUST KILL THE PIG.

If the frenzied stalemate continued the hunting dog would eventually die from exhaustion as its instinct is not to retreat.

Most us with little or no WPS (wild pig slaying) experience on our CVs would respond to the PIG MUST BE KILLED directive similarly…. “now, let me get this straight…. You want me to go down there and place myself in the mix of a Wild Pig (of unspecified proportions) locked in  mortal combat with a dog trained to kill or die in the process …and…. What’s that other thing you said?….I must pierce the wild pig’s heart with a knife.. “  Too Easy….

Without question or alarm, she quickly secured her children in the house, mounted a quad bike and, with a dog lead wrapped around her waist (for the return trip with hopefully a living dog attached), armed herself with a knife (I’d like to say clenched between her teeth but probably not) specifically designed for WPS and juggling her mobile phone on which her husband was giving clear instructions, she level- headedly headed in the direction of the unfolding massacre she and she alone had to bring to an end.

Even though she had never killed a living thing, she simply knew what she had to do.

She was calm and considered and motivated by the task of saving the life of her favourite dog.

“the hunting dog was old and my favourite and I didn’t want him to die”

For the record, our rookie pig slayer had witnessed the method by which an experienced pig hunter permanently disabled a WP during a rare hunting trip with her husband. But before she landed the fatal blow there was just one other, small detail to be addressed. With the clock ticking another skill had to be acquired before she brought about the demise of the WP and saved her favourite dog.

Top of the agenda: Disengage WP from the contest without, of course, allowing it to turn on her. It turns out WP weighed in at about the same number at which she tipped the scales.

The trick to incapacitating WP: Grab it by the hind legs and tip it over on its back. THEN you plunge your knife into its heart.  Too Easy.  But after one failed attempt at “flipping” the WP –which one would suspect was getting crankier and more dangerous by this point- she was forced to retreat to the relative safety of the high fence atop of which was a mobile phone broadcasting precise instructions for her to “kill”.

Oh and did I mention our woman on a mission had been to the gym and was still kitted out in her tights and whatever else one wears to the gym?

Just imagine the confusion of the combatants in the violent skirmish when Lorna Jane in full kit suddenly leaps into the fray, instead of usual John Rambo in fatigues, and competently delivers the fatal blow to end the savagery.

What happened then? Splattered with pig blood and dog spittle, her first pig kill under her belt, she calmly put an exhausted but grateful, feral pig hunting dog on the back of the Quad and headed back to the house.

In the hours following her courageous intervention, this young woman, who’s probably never heard of the footy champion they still call GOD , simply got on with the more mundane tasks of running a family.  She could, however, legitimately boast similar pig slaying prowess to the Geelong legend. But my guess is she didn’t.

DOGGOS OF CANBERRA

SPOTTED THIS FASHION MODEL AT THE HAWKER SHOPS
“EDDIE”
PROTESTING CLIMATE CHANGE AT A RALLY IN GLEBE PARK
HELPING HIS HUMAN FIND A CAR PARK AT COOLEMAN COURT
”PHOEBE” WALKED WITH HER HUMAN FROM COLLECTOR TO CANBERRA
”BLAH BLAH BLAH”
CATTLE DOGS IN TOWN FOR THE FARMERS RALLY
LOOKING FOR THE LOW DOG WHO STOLE MY JIMMY CHEWS

CANBERRA CITY NEWS DEC 19

“Seven Days” columnist MIKE WELSH reflects on his highlights of a year of life and news in Canberra.

LIGHT RAIL eventually rolled at Easter with near misses involving dopey pedestrians and motorists dominating headlines since.

MLA Shane Rattenbury jumped aboard the “I’ve taken Ecstasy Too” bandwagon amid pill testing debates, while Labor minister Meegan Fitzharris opted “to spend more time with family”. Liberal leader Alistair Coe disingenuously confessed to “needing a miracle” to win the next election, but a more politically astute Andrew Barr snagged underdog status.

ACROSS the border, NSW Nationals boss John Barilaro punched way above his weight telling former party boss Barnaby Joyce to “shut his mouth”. Still on the putting-a-sock-in-it department… tennis great John Newcombe told Nick Kyrgios to “zip it” after the young champ’s big mouth again brought him grief.

BOLLARDS at Hawker shops may soften the precinct’s reputation as a crime hotspot. Olive restaurant was firebombed, Woolworths was targeted by ram raiders, and a similar method was employed to enter the new discount pharmacy.

BURNT-out stolen vehicles littered our roadsides. One stolen car that avoided a fiery end had 3000 kilometres added to the clock and $1850 in fines accrued when found seven days later.

BOB Hawke’s death in May brought many tales including one from 1957 when he was one of “five naked students who in very high spirits, swam in University House’s ornamental goldfish pond” at ANU.

SYDNEY journalist Eddy Jokovich reneged on a vow to “walk nude from Sydney to Canberra balancing a pumpkin on my head” if ScoMo won May’s federal election.

MANUKA Oval’s renovations drew poetic praise from cricket writers with one evoking an idyllic village green: “There can’t be too many venues where you hear batsmen call and church bells on a Sunday”. The venue was again the focus of attention when snow fell on a Friday night AFL match. And across the road a troublesome London plane tree was finally felled after a long battle by locals to save it.

A MODIFIED Fight Club complete with betting was uncovered at one of our more exclusive boys schools before being discreetly closed down.

THE Caps’ broke an eight-year premiership drought, but our adopted AFL outfit the GWS Giants suffered a humiliating Grand Final loss. The Brumbies pushed deep into the international rugby finals and, as for the boys from Bruce, it may still be too soon to discuss the “theft” that allegedly occurred at ANZ Stadium in Oct.

OUR local radio scene was tipped on its head after 2CC opted to network its breakfast program from Sydney, punting Tim Shaw for Alan Jones. And after three years of rising early Dan Bourchier pulled the pin at the ABC’s Triple 6.

DELIVERY drones buzzed around despite a threatened “attack”. An anonymous biblical command posted at Crace warned: “Cease the flying of your wicked, ungodly abomination lest the Lord smite them and bring punishment upon you.”

SEVENTY-seven-year-old Adrienne Carpenter walked from Collector to Parliament House to protest the treatment of local barrister Bernard Collaery, but there was no-one to greet her.

NO such snub for movie heavyweights Hugo Weaving, Rhys Muldoon and Gillian Armstrong who dropped by to lobby for more local content. Pollies of all hues scrambled for selfies.

OPENING doors in the capital took on new meaning after a visiting Victorian MP attempted to kick down a Barton hotel door to get his luggage.

Schoolgirls in uniform present an unambiguous take on climate change at a rally in Glebe Park. Photo: Mike Welsh

CONSTRUCTION giant Geocon’s sexist promotional signage attracted the wrath of feminists. But a sign, waved by four female students in full uniform of a local christian school, presented an unambiguous take on climate change at a rally in Glebe Park.

WHAT two globetrotting Canberra Catholic nuns thought of the protestants’ placard is unknown. Sister Judy Bowe and Sister Therese Mills were far too busy being reality TV stars on “The Amazing Race”.

“SEVEN Days” Doggo of the Year is this helpful hound, snapped aiding his human find a car park at Cooleman Court.

PRUE GOWARD’S GREAT PIECE ON ROS DILLON

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Poor, poor Ros Dillon. Her life has become a tragedy born of her father’s greatness. She is not alone. She is not the only damaged and lost child to have haunted the path of the very successful.

I was a young ABC journalist when I first encountered the Hawke family in Canberra. Bob Hawke, then prime minister, objected to my interviewing and undeniably ours was a combative relationship. The prime minister’s tears at his 1984 press conference, confessing to his daughter’s heroin addiction, I now appreciate were more real than we could ever have imagined.

Great people have great focus, usually on themselves, as they must to fulfil their destiny. The lives of those around them, including those of their children, may be expected to give way to the demands of this destiny. Promises to attend school celebrations or birthday parties are not kept; precious family moments are frequently derailed by the urgency of some professional crisis. The extraordinary dazzle of light emanating from the star parent may only seldom be bestowed upon the child, who instead watches from the shadows as the star shines its light on others instead.

Great people can have great appetites. Hawke’s infidelities were legendary, so many in fact I have met former lovers who discovered he had forgotten them entirely. While that was to change in his marriage to Blanche, in the Melbourne world his exploits with beer and blondes were well known and undoubtedly Hazel, his first wife and woman of great charm, suffered enormously.

Male and female ABC radio reporters in Hawke’s ACTU days submitted to interviewing him in his Boulevard Hotel room while he was naked (so I was warned when I worked for radio) yet his extraordinary charisma meant it was tolerated in a way it would not be in any other. His alcoholic all-night binges, Hazel’s compensatory heavy drinking and what must have been regular dramas and fights at home – that is when Bob was at home – would not have been without effect on any child.

Rosslyn Dillon’s life, by her own admission, is a poor and broken one. Now she has made allegations, in her challenge to her father’s will, that she was raped and sexually assaulted by Victorian Labor politician Bill Landeryou while she worked in his office in 1982 – but that Hawke told her not to report it to police because he was challenging for the federal Labor leadership.

It is disingenuous to dismiss her claims as outrageous because his other children have not made them. Vulnerabilities differ. Suffice it to say that whether Landeryou did know, in that instinctive way predators know, how vulnerable Rosslyn was, or whether he was confident her father’s ambition would protect him from accountability, Rosslyn believes she has never recovered from those events.

It is unfair to suggest this young woman need not have been raped three times and could instead have walked away at the first encounter. Or that she must have made it up, or consented at the time and regretted it later. How often have we railed against defence counsel in sexual assault cases for exactly those lines of argument?

Ros was already a broken girl and fear of being sacked by a Victorian government minister, of her father’s rejection or of damaging his great ascendancy would have been reasons enough for a loving daughter to tolerate three assaults before she escaped.

If Ros’ recollection is correct, her father favouring his ambitions over her protection would be despicable but, I counsel, not unheard of. By his daughter’s account, Hawke acknowledged her distress, believed her and told her directly why she was not to pursue it. Other men have been known to reject their daughters’ claims altogether and instead accuse them of immoral wickedness for making up lies about their mate.

Children live or die at the mercy of their parents; so Rosslyn Dillon has lived. We need to put her suffering above politics. Bob Hawke’s legacy to Australia is a great one, of which his family and party can be justly proud; there is no need to deny he was also far from perfect or that his family paid a price. No need to favour legacy over a truth only his daughter could know. This is real life; there can be both.