By Mike Welsh

SPARE a thought for recently re-elected ALP member for Fenner Andrew Leigh.

Poor sod spent countless hours smiling on early morning TV and arguing on late night “Q&A”, building a national profile, only to find himself on the backbench. 

The factionally unaligned Leigh was heading for a ministry in a Shorten government, but has been overlooked for a spot on Albo’s opposition team.

ANU economist Warwick McKibbin’s tweet: “When Andrew Leigh, the best economist in the parliament is not in the shadow ministry, you know something is wrong”, may test Leigh’s commitment to Labor’s cause. And the general consensus that Albo’s team is lined with “mediocrities”, would add to Leigh’s misery.

THE cruel dumping hasn’t dampened Leigh’s liking for a sledge, though. Leigh tweeted: “Since 2016, Labor has had a shadow minister for charities, now the Coalition has decided to copy the idea. Just two small downsides: 1. It’s an assistant minister. 2. It’s Zed Seselja. Perhaps they should be honest, and call him the assistant minister against charities?” Seselja fired back: “On the other hand, there appears to be little downside for the ALP in dumping you”. Ouch !!

FANS of angry-old-man-radio are pleased to learn Alan Jones remains on the wireless until at least his 80th birthday. AJ signed a two-year contract with 2GB, which relays parts of his breakfast show to Canberra via 2CC. The shock jock’s stablemate Ray Hadley, recently touted as a replacement should Jones “walk”, was quoted as being “comfortable” with the signing. Sources from inside the conservative bunker suggest Hadley is anything but.

RUGBY superstar David Pocock usually has plenty to say on issues dear to his heart but was more measured recently. As the sporting media gathered to hear his plans of enhancing his World Cup chances by quitting Super League and the Brumbies, Pocock virtually confirmed a post-rugby political career by impressively sidestepping the inevitable question about his future.

The South African-born athlete, who came to the capital in 2013, said: “The Brumbies have given me a home for the last seven years. They’ve supported me through injury and given me the opportunity to work on my game and my leadership as part of an incredible group of men”. 

The activist also thanked fans and the city: “Canberra has well and truly become my home. Em and I love living here, being part of the community.”

THE shock 2017 announcement of Belconnen Myer’s closure has been reversed. After a “new lease arrangement” was reached between the retail giant and Scentre (operator of Westfield), a downsized Myer will emerge at the Belconnen landmark.

AT nearby Hawker the pharmacy is now under the bright purple and orange banner of the Hawker Discount Drug Store, part of a chain spreading down the east coast and through the ACT. One local wag, showing his age, wanted to know if the drug store sold “ice-cream sodas” and if “Richie Cunningham and The Fonz would be dropping by”.

CANBERRA AFL stalwart Aaron Bruce has reached a special milestone in his long career. The Canberra Demons’ skipper notched up 150 NEAFL games, becoming only the fourth player in the comp’s history to do so.

Rupert Murdoch may be spending more time at his Yass weekender after the announcement of a new news site dedicated to Canberra (the ‘burbs not the bubble). Murdoch, who started “The Australian” in Braddon in 1964 has launched the Canberra Star digital-only site that will focus on “connecting with local communities who are often seeking new ways to stay in touch with what’s happening on their doorstep”.

FRIGHTENING reports are emerging across social media of food, possibly laced with poison, being tossed into Canberra backyards. A Flynn dog owner warned owners to be vigilant after her dog returned home with dark chocolate in its mouth. And a Bonython resident reported finding a raw chicken stuffed with rat poison in her yard.

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ONE solitary rainbow roundabout in a city of roundabouts is nothing more than a lonely landmark. That’s according to spokesperson for BURT (Braddon United Retailers and Traders) Kel Watt.

A year on from the “Yes” marriage equality postal survey, Watt says: “There are multiple roundabouts in Braddon, with two less than 100 metres from the Rainbow Roundabout” that “could also become symbols of adversity, challenges and triumphs for other causes”. 

The BURT mouthpiece says rather than being the “butt of jokes by the rest of the country” Braddon’s roundabouts could become “celebrated icons”.

PENIS-owl envy is alive and well in the world of controversial public art. Seems Belconnen’s owl, the one that apparently looks like a penis, may have a doppelganger. Pictures have popped up on social media of a piece of public art recently unveiled in the northern Serbian town of Kikinda, prompting many “eagle eyed” Canberrans to make a comparison between it and the phallic structure standing proud at the end of Benjamin Way.
SOME Canberra Liberals are seriously questioning Zed Seselja’s political judgement with the ACT senator inviting former PM Tony Abbott to an upcoming fundraiser. For $150 a head ($60 for members) supporters can enjoy drinks and canapes with the member for Warringah at Menzies House in Barton, Tuesday, November 27. Senior Liberal and longtime Abbott pal Michael Yabsley recently said: “The Liberal Party’s healing process would be accelerated if Tony Abbott were to vacate”.

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison’s recent Queensland bus tour seems to have unleashed his inner Trump. ScoMo’s constant negative reference to the “Canberra bubble” has the US President’s “drain the swamp” written all over it. Morrison’s double thumbs up gesture and glib and dismissive responses to journalists’ questions are also more than a little Trumplike. But the real test for the born-again bonza bloke from the Shire will be ockerising his dog whistling on immigration policy borrowing the Don’s “we have some bad hombres here and we are gonna get them out”.

FOR those struggling with the precise parameters of the “Canberra bubble”, Canberra freelance writer Angela Shanahan has made the task more difficult. In a piece in “The Australian” on the territory’s eliminating legal exemptions to the anti-discrimination laws pertaining to freedom of religion, Shanahan accuses the Barr government of “living in a world of their own” referring to the ACT as a “little socialist republic”. Given the size of the territory and Angela’s special insight into the “bubble”, is it too much to ask she shed light on where the “world of their own” ends and the “bubble” begins?

Alan Jones’ loyal Canberra listeners have been forced to wait to see any change to his presentation. The man they call “the parrot” reportedly had his wings clipped by management for a number of on-air indiscretions but has been forced off-air with a bad back. The 78-year-old, syndicated through 2CC, was apparently in strife for, among other “sins”, uttering the “N” word, being found guilty of defaming three Queensland brothers at a cost of $3.7 million and for his ungentlemanly conduct during a recent interview with Opera House CEO Louise Herron. Speculation among Sydney radio types is that with the Nine/Fairfax merger (which includes 2GB) kicking in soon, Jones’ long-term future is unclear.

Loneliness is an unloved Airbike on a traffic island on Commonwealth Avenue. Photo by Mike Welsh

CANBERRA’S six-month trial of a dockless bike share is almost over and it appears Canberrans have treated the scheme with more respect than other jurisdictions. While there is no evidence of Airbike bikes finishing up in lakes, many are drifting outside the “dedicated bike parking zones” and slipping under the “geo-fencing technologies”. One bike spent days leaning outside the public toilets at O’Connor shops, another was spotted parked on a traffic island on Commonwealth Avenue and a third has been buried in a hedge near Black Mountain School for most of the past two weeks.

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Memo to Alan Jones and Ray Hadley and Tony Abbott. LISTEN and LEARN

By Mike Welsh tone 5 A “rusted on” Liberal party supporter called the open line of Neil Mitchell’s radio program on Melbourne’s 3AW today. “Andrew” offered a sage piece of advice to Neil’s studio guest, Prime Minister Tony Abbott. However, unlike the limp-wristed “critiques” handed out recently by Mitchell’s Sydney talkback colleagues, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, Melbourne caller “Andrew” delivered his Prime Ministerial missive with the precision of a surgeon and the skill and pain of a beach-towel flick to the testicles.

I’m a Liberal voter through and through but I’ve got to be got to be honest and truthful with you, Mr Prime Minster, you’re on the nose with Liberal voters and that’s a real concern to me because I don’t want to see you give the keys to Bill Shorten at the Lodge. I have got to tell you you are the world’s worst salesman, Prime Minister”…. Andrew 3AW caller

Headmaster Jones put him “on notice” over his lacklustre performance and the Greyhound race-caller Hadley marked Tony Abbott’s report card down to a D minus, but both broadsides were no more than clouds of hysterical dust which quickly vanished. ray an alan Andrew’s articulate and concise appraisal of Abbott will hang in the electoral ether for much longer and do more damage. Andrew’s perceptive on-air judgment of Abbott’s sales performance says much about those who listen to Mitchell, and the blind followers who listen to the Talkback Titans.  While former newspaper man Mitchell is bland and measured, he has dominated the Melbourne radio market for almost three decades.  And despite the hype surrounding the conservatives Jones and Hadley, basically thanks to their programs networked to Colac, Cooma and Coonabarabran, Mitchell is considered by astute judges as consistently a better practitioner of the art of Talkback radio. mitchell While Jones and Hadley don’t listen and learn, on the off chance Tony Abbott failed to heed Andrew’s message I humbly made a few suggestions on how he may have approached his toxic talkback caller, on my “boutique” radio program on 2HC in Coffs Harbour

Swimming Between the Flags at Cronulla

flags #3By Mike Welsh I had no say what so ever in my conception and birth, nor in that of our nation but I’ve always felt special to have been born on January 26. A birthday I proudly share with the late actors Paul Newman and Eartha Kitt, WW 11 hero, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and a bunch of Australian Test cricketers including ex skipper, Kim Hughes, with whom I share the same birth date, Jan 26 1954. Traditionally not a red-letter date such as Dec 25 or New Year’s Eve, but Jan 26 is still a momentous day, and one which would be difficult to forget, especially if it was your birthday. Yet back in the day I actually spent most of one birthday, blissfully unaware of its importance. The penny dropped when our GG came on the radio to deliver his Australia Day address. But it was too late. Fifteen hours of my birthday had already disappeared.  How could I forget my birthday? How could I forget Australia Day? These days I would have been primed for the big event weeks in advance thanks to Australian flags fluttering from all points of all manner of vehicles in traffic and the ubiquitous TV commercials warning of a tsunami of beer, BBQs and backyard cricket bashes. kekka My birthday has not only been comprehensively commercialized by “slammin” Sam Kekovich but it has morphed into a dangerously jingoistic mentality of… “If you don’t eat lamb or drape the flag you are unAustralian”. A surprisingly articulate, fat, former full forward  succinctly “taking the piss” out of vegans has, sadly  become as familiar in January  as the flag flogging  racists who first poked their  ignorant and shockjock tutored heads over our backyard fences on Australia Day 2005 at Cronulla. The day the fuse for the December 11 2005 explosion was lit which gave birth to the “Cronulla Cape” (a term coined for mindless drunken Bogans who drape their naked upper bodies in the Australian flag). An Australian stand-up comedian described Australia Day to a group of international tourists thus… “the day Aussies get drunk and racist” and academics decided to drill into the causes and consequences of Cronulla. A “loose” University of W.A. study on Flag Waving V Non Flag Waving, found racism embedded in the Flag wavers. The team discovered that most of the 513 people surveyed from several hundred thousand gathered to watch a fireworks display, were fearful of losing their identity. One in five said they had attached flags to their cars. While the study results were neither conclusive nor solid, the basic inference was, “those who are flying flags on their cars do express more racist opinions with 43 per cent convinced that the now defunct White Australia Policy had saved Australia from problems that other countries had experienced”. flags #2 I love Australia Day and most of what goes with it. I don’t have a problem with a brewery promotion of an Aussie flag for your car when you buy a “slab” of beer, but the “FUCK OFF WE’RE FULL” stickers I find  highly offensive. Australia Day is my birthday but I don’t have to swim between the racist flags fluttering at Cronulla.

No Prime Minister You Can Not Sell The farm

By Mike Welsh

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On Monday, sandwiched skilfully and diplomatically between a leisurely lycra clad 30k post G 20 bike ride and “inking” a big fat, billion dollar free trade deal with our new bestie, the Chinese, Prime Minister Tony Abbott answered the summons. The order had come down from on high, the headmaster’s office, and was laced with a “please explain” to and “take instruction” from the man who thinks he runs the joint, Alan Jones.

How many Prime Ministers in the afterglow of a highly successful hosting of World leaders, and with a Oxford Blue in boxing, would not only make time for an hysterical radio announcer but meekly cop the frenzied on air “dressing down” Alan Jones delivered..

Why does tough-guy Tony, prepared to shirtfront even tougher tough-guy Putin, become a girl’s blouse in the presence of Alan Jones?

Jones’ seething interrogation of a democratically elected Prime Minister not only contained very clear directives but supplied the PM’s responses for him.

“Could Tony Abbott buy a farm in China, no he could not”

The tub thumping talkback host accused the PM “failing the pub test” on the free trade agreement with China.

Jones accused Abbott of selling the impoverished  family’s cow for a handful of magic beans.

Jones can mince all the words he wants but this spat was sparked by his own intense insecurity. A self-doubt which has driven him to lofty heights and laughable lows.

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Jones is in the habit of waxing lyrical over the depression era circumstances under which  his farmer father was dragged up. “He had no education no job no parents, a hell of a trifecta”. He speaks misty eyed of drinking from the well his father dug.

But on Monday Jones was mightily miffed. Miffed because the man he manufactured with his own dirt poor hands had spent the weekend swanning clumsily (if that’s possible) around in a spotlight he didn’t belong in.

“It should have been me” Alan silently sang.

Abbott had to be brought down a peg. He had become too big for his boots. This is the Jones’ MO.

Under the flag waving hand on heart guise of not selling the farm to foreigners the boy from humble beginnings was reminding not only Tony Abbott but the rest of the mob just who runs the joint.