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.

CANBERRA CITY NEWS DEC 12

“Seven Days” columnist MIKE WELSH finds himself in the middle of the farmers’ protest at Parliament House. 
THREE thousand frustrated Southern Riverina farmers poured into the capital demanding the Federal parliament scrap the controversial Murray Darling Basin Plan. 

Under the bold “Can the Plan” banner they came, the young, the old, with their dogs, and in their trucks, Toyotas and even tractors. 

In weather-beaten Akubras and lived-in Driza-bones, the normally reserved or “quiet” Australians rallied enthusiastically among scores of creative and sometimes crude placards on the lawns of Parliament House in one of the biggest such protest events this year.

As a convoy of more than 200 horn-blasting trucks circled, speakers and entertainers warmed up the crowd before it marched on the forecourt. Organisers pleaded with the protesters to “behave”, but when a small group broke away and penetrated a line of almost 20 AFP officers, the entire group marched to the front doors. 

With extra reinforcements protecting the building the mob chanted slogans aimed squarely at Water Minister David Littleproud and local MP, the member for Farrer, Sussan Ley.

Among the first pollies brave enough to venture down was Bob Katter, but he was quickly elbowed out of the spotlight by One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts. The One Nation pair swooped on the disenchanted cohort like seagulls on hot chips, keen to exploit angry farmers and regional small business operators, now clearly in the market for another political vehicle on which to hitch their considerable political clout.

THE bowels of motorists travelling along Belconnen Way near Bunnings on Wednesday were abruptly loosened by the disconcerting sight of eight police officers on the side of the road pointing speed guns directly at them. No, it wasn’t a heavy handed pre-Christmas, revenue-raising campaign, but what appeared to be a training exercise involving young officers familiarising themselves with the instruments in time for the holiday blitz.

A battered bus shelter on Commonwealth Avenue. Photo: Mike Welsh

CANBERRA’S bus shelters continue to be senselessly trashed. The shelters on each side of Commonwealth Ave near Albert Hall have been disabled for weeks, with tape wrapped around shattered glass panels. In July police speculated that around 50 bus shelters had been targeted by slingshots. The glass panels can cost up to $1000 apiece to replace.

THE local breakfast radio fare continues to change, with ABC cornflakes man Dan Bourchier on the move. Bourchier is to be replaced in 2020 by Lish Fejer who appears to be taking an intellectual approach, promising “to dive into that hive mind and have some fun” with the “switched on, generous, connected and considered” ABC Canberra audience.

Yarralumla trees festooned with Christmas bows.

THE Yarralumla Residents Association has returned tradition to the area by urging locals to become involved with decking local trees with bright red bows. No tree, no prob. Decorated letterboxes are also acceptable. The association can provide the fabric and instructions for $5.

AFTER more than two decades in the secondhand book caper, former Canberra public servant Ron Robertson is trading the romance of bricks and mortar and ceiling high piles of dusty tomes, for the detached world of the web. Sadly, Ron’s Hawker bookshop must close on December 31. Hawker’s unofficial mayor says the old model of book selling is no longer viable and he will now do business exclusively on his laptop.

IT’S comforting to know I’m not the only pedant in the capital. Posted on twitter: “The Apostrophe Society closing its doors has inspired me to start a foundation for Not Referring to Federal Parliament as Canberra (still working on a name). Its basic goal will be to stop people using ‘Canberra’ when they mean Federal parliament”.

AND the final reference to the bubble this year. As the pollies left town for the summer break, unmolested by a threat to block their exit by activist group Extinction Rebellion, two minor and trivial questions remain unanswered. Did Malcolm Turnbull’s bonk ban transfer to the ScoMo regime and if so has it remained intact? Asking for a friend.

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CANBERRA CITY NEWS DEC 5

“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.

Thanks for nothing! Photo: Mike Welsh

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)? 

The PM’s Stunt double. PIC SUPPLIED

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”.

Apple’s got you snapped. Photo: Mike Welsh

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.

CAN THE PLAN CONVOY COMES TO CANBERRA

THREE thousand frustrated Southern Riverina farmers rolled into Canberra demanding the government rips up the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

The farmers had a clear message for Minister for Water David Littleproud and local member (Farrer) Sussan Ley and other politicans. Rip up the MDBP.

Bob Katter turned up to compare lids with the undertaker conducting the burial of the MDBP

Political parasites Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts swooped on the disenchanted conservative country crowd in the hope of picking up some of the votes on offer.

Weather-beaten Akubras dominated the fashions on the field
NO FARMERS NO FOOD
Protecting the fortress from angry farmers
Quiet Australians getting noisy

CITY NEWS OCT 24

Columnist MIKE WELSH is back for another “Seven Days” in the life of Canberra. 

CANBERRA climate activists’ second attempt to disrupt the city amused and entertained locals rather than achieved the serious gridlock aim of such rallies worldwide.

Around 150 protesters responded to the local chapter of Extreme Rebellion’s call to “swarm and shut down the city, occupy intersections, show Canberra business-as-usual can’t continue!”

The mob, chanting “no planet, no future” did close the intersection of Lonsdale and Cooyong Streets for five minutes, but traffic had all but disappeared or been diverted by the large number of police in attendance.

Canberra Centre shoppers whipped out mobile phones to record the entertainment and after-work diners and drinkers in Braddon good naturedly heckled the mob, which finished its walk with a “die in” on London Circuit.

Extreme Rebellion protestors “swarming” the city. Photo: Mike Welsh

IF the near hysterical social media response to news our humongous hot-air balloon Skywhale was homeward bound is any indication, next year’s balloon festival will be a huge success.

Tweets, from the positive “made my day” to the clever “Hindenboob is coming home”, the exaggerated “most Canberra thing ever” to the wildly inflated “greatest day in Australian history since Lady Denman declared Canberra the name of the new capital”, have set the scene for an exciting homecoming for the floating sculpture.

Youthful Skywhale in 2013. Photo: Martin Ollman.

A 2018 “New York Times” article described the multi-mammoried monster as having “a head like a turtle, a body like a giant crustacean, 10 bulbous, hanging breasts, one thing is certain: It is hard to ignore the Skywhale”. But the then ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson spat: “embarrassing indulgence” when it first floated over the capital in 2013.

Gus’ cafe… going, but coming back? Photo: Mike Welsh

STILL on all things Canberra, one genuine icon is about to be scuttled to make way for a luxury new hotel. Bunda Street landmark cafe Gus’ stands in the way of a multi-million dollar, 11-storey hotel planned for Garema Place by property developer Geocon. The developer says it will rebuild the cafe within the new hotel.

THE 2018 “Australian National Dictionary’s” word of the year, the “Canberra bubble” is not as contemporary asScoMo would have us believe. Addressing the national prayer breakfast at Parliament House, Governor-General David Hurleycryptically joked: “Even in the days of the Old Testament, God was aware of the Canberra bubble”, quoting Proverbs 11.13: “for lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers”.

STILL with “lights on the hill”, member for Fenner Andrew Leigh has attempted to prick the fabled bubble which has formed around Federal parliament. In an opinion piece on Parliament House for “The Canberra Times” the MP chronicled the ordinary folk “who make it hum”. Leigh says: “I doubt I’ll work in a more beautiful place than parliament… as our feet crunch across the red gravel towards the front entrance, each of us keenly feels the privilege of serving Australians”.

MEANWHILE, the man who once vowed to empty Canberra of its public servants has also confessed his delight at working in Canberra. Drought envoy and former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce posted a pic of Parliament House with the cheesy caption: “It still gives me a thrill going to work”.

I was invited (or I thought I was) to lobby group GetUp’s National Director Paul Oosting‘s address to the National Press Club last Wednesday. But there were hoops through which I had to jump to claim my “special” invitation to the free event. 

I needed to fill out an expression of interest by sharing something about myself in 100 words or less. Then, should I be “chosen” I would be notified of my good fortune. My 15-word bio: “Just an honest campaigner prepared to go anywhere for free alcohol and a loaded smorgasbord” was probably never going to make the final cut.

I wasn’t chosen but the cheeky bastards had the gall to hit me up for a regular monthly contribution of $8 to help “fund the great work we are doing”.

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SEVEN DAYS CITY NEWS AUG 22

Mike Welsh

CYNICAL Canberrans are still scratching their heads over a police crackdown on jaywalking. 

Few can recall such a pedestrian crime being so aggressively policed before. The “pedestrian safety” blitz conducted at Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive reportedly netted several dozen victims. 

But if authorities are serious about jaywalking (and riding), a revenue-raising goldmine awaits a few blocks west. At any peak time the intersection of Barry Drive and Clunies Ross Street is a very dangerous jaywalking/riding free-for-all.

IT’S now obvious that Canberrans are NOT light rail ready. Rail Safety week came to a shuddering halt on day one after a 61-year-old pedestrian was hit by a tram at a crossing in Civic. The incident brought to an end a string of close calls involving motorists and pedestrians, oblivious to fast-moving trams bearing down on them.

Is it possible warnings by Transport Minister Chris Steel, who described the tram as a “rhino on a skateboard’, and Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury (“like getting hit by six elephants at once”) are too complex? One of the first rules of advertising is KISS (keep it simple, stupid). “Stop, look, listen” might be worth a thought.

ANOTHER chapter in the outstanding career of Dr Brendan Nelson closes in December when he retires as director of the Australian War Memorial. I’ve followed Nelson (we share an alma mater) since the late ‘80s when he was a dashing young Hobart GP and future president of the left-leaning AMA, sporting a diamond-stud earring and hooning around town in a hot Commodore.

I next encountered him in the mid ‘90s, campaigning on Sydney’s north shore in the seat of Bradfield, which he won for the Liberals. The party eventually chewed him up and spat him out, but Nelson reinvented himself spectacularly by putting the AWM firmly back in the national consciousness.

Opinion is almost unanimous that he leaves the AWM in far better shape and with a higher profile than when he came into the role seven years ago.

AUSTRALIA’S first (and only) female Nobel laureate has been in Canberra. It appears she and I have a few things in common. A tenuous link I know, but Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, awarded the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009, and I both spent our formative years in the same city (Launceston), and I was a patient of her figuratively and literally larger-than-life GP father. Now based in San Francisco, Dr Blackburn spoke at the Crawford Fund’s 2019 conference at Parliament House. Small world, but I’d hate to vacuum it.

FORMER Bruce bad boy Todd Carney certainly isn’t letting his penis artistry come back to bite him on the bum without a buck involved. He’s turned his infamous toilet party piece into a payday. The 2010 Dally M medallist features in a Sportsbet commercial ending with the tag: “Even whizz kid Todd Carney can use it” and Toddy agrees “Yeah, piece of piss”. The Goulburn-raised athlete has just released a book, “Hard Truth”, about his troubled times.

STILL loitering around the private parts of Raiders players and a local radio newsreader suffered an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Reporting the return of Raider Joey Leilua, Capital Radio’s Beth Rep tripped over “his first game back after surgery on a bulging dick… ah, disc”. Within an hour the audio was being shared all over the country. Small things, they say, amuse small minds.

2CC’s Alan Jones’ directive to PM ScoMo to “shove a sock” down the throat of NZ PM Jacinda Ardern sent social media into a tizz with all the usual vile comments. However, one tweet cleverly fused the shock jock’s misogynistic comments with two of his other favourite pastimes, rugby and motivation. The post urged the All Blacks to use Jones’ “vile slur against the NZ PM” as inspiration for the weekend’s Bledisloe Cup clash. Apparently, Jones’ favourite Kiwi song is Split Enz’ “Sox Months in a Leaky Boat”.