By Mike Welsh
A recent article by Noel Towell in the Canberra Times on outgoing ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher described her as the “impossible Princess of ACT Politics”.
I’m guessing Noel was trying to be kind.
To be fair, Katy Gallagher is a smart and capable person. And politically astute. Sufficiently astute at least to play the Princess to her advantage. And she’s played it brilliantly. She can seamlessly segue from commanding captain of the hockey team on the field to head cheer leader urging on the football team from the sidelines.
After covering ACT politics for 11 of the past 12 years, my view of KG is that she is indeed a “princess”. The “precious poor little petal” type princess who when the heat is applied either whips out and waves the sexist card or drops her bottom lip and flutters her eyelashes with “I’m just a girl”.
Once, just prior to a pre-recorded interview with me for my radio program she coyly said…..”Be gentle with me Mike”
But after I became a little less gentle, on behalf of many victims of workplace bullying in the ACT Public Service, I was informed by a flunky that “Katy has banned you”. The ban was lifted some time later but I was not notified.
Apart from some at the Canberra Times, Mike Jeffreys and me on 2CC the Canberra based media has given Princess Katy a right royal ride. Anointed by John Stanhope for the top job, and wholeheartedly endorsed by her mob for the squeaky clean image she projected to the electorate, she’s had a dream run through the past few years.
A dream run aided by a mostly soft, ineffective and self defeating opposition.
As a political leader Katy G is that rare and valued political bird. The unencumbered by baggage, cute little blonde cheerleader from cute little blonde cheerleader central. And the strategy has worked a treat for ACT Labour.
And that “rails run” through politics is about to continue. Bored with wading through the mundane day to day trash emptied out on the floor of the Municipal Council which is the ACT government, Katy Gallagher now swans off, without serious scrutiny, to the safety of the Senate leaving a trail of human misery which is the hundreds of psychologically damaged Canberrans bullied in the ACT Public Service. And the scores of whom were bullied again by the ACT Public service which “went after” them when they dared to speak out.
Out of sheer frustration at being unable to get past Katy’s gatekeeper Dr Peggy Brown, Director General ACT Health, on July 29 last year I tweeted @KatieGMLA after a letter I’d received from staffers highlighting serious bullying at an ACT run department at which the letter said “there would be suicides”
To her credit Katie tweeted back “serious allegation deserves better that a tweet. Pl forward any info you have”
In reply I sought a guarantee there would be no further bullying as “this was almost always central to the issue”. I’m still awaiting a reply. Katie knows but can’t afford politically to know.
Among many bullying cases of which I was made aware, there was a woman from ACT Health who had been in contact with me over a period of time. She had written to Katy about the way she was “gone after” by her superiors after she “blew the whistle” on some inappropriate practices. I contacted her one Sunday afternoon to see how her case was going and was told “it’s too late, I’m on the roof”. She was indeed on the roof, of a very high building and was planning to jump, such was the pressure she was getting from the ACT Gov’s people for “blowing the whistle” on bullying.
The reality is either Katy Gallagher knows, chapter and verse, of the evil and destructive “culture” of bullying which exists in the ACT public Service or, somebody else read those reports from inquiries into bullying at Canberra Hospital which have never been published. This allows her to remain at arm’s length from the political stench attached to the issue and wash her hands as she walks away.