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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THE centenary of the Armistice was a busy time for Florey man Don Longridge. As a member of Canberra’s Military Reenactment Group – a national living-history group – Don attended several functions across the region serving as a “silent soldier”, handing out information without speaking.

Recently returned from the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun in France, Don also represents family member Pte Francis Craymor Whitfield, who died in 1916 at the first Battle of the Somme.

A RECENT survey revealing a disturbingly high percentage of Canberra women who feel unsafe in public after dark has elicited stories from other women who are regularly harassed in broad daylight. One woman reports being regularly “cat-called” from passing vehicles as she jogs across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Another says she is also frequently “cat called” and was once followed during an early morning run around the lake.

Saying neigh to horse racing… Cup Day protesters. Photo by Reeni Martinez

IF a local animal rights group has its way, the crowds that head to Thoroughbred Park on Melbourne Cup Day to party will need a new venue. But an attempt by the fledgling Anti-Speciesist Collective this year to shame people entering the event, along with intermittent rain and winds, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the 5000-strong crowd.

The group set up a protest at the entrance to the venue displaying images and statements of what it called the “dark side” of the sport of kings and urged racegoers to support a petition to ban horse racing in Canberra. The protestors, who joined a nation-wide Cup Day campaign, view horse racing as “countless horses used and abused for entertainment all year round”. The group has also demonstrated at the Bungendore Rodeo and the Queanbeyan Show


The member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh, has gone from being called a “weird cat” earlier this year by the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to being a serious threat to the national economy. An opinion piece by Dr Leigh in “The New York Times” was labelled by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as “a pathetic attack on his own country”, putting him firmly in the sights of the LNP attack dogs.

The Treasurer urged Labor leader Bill Shorten to rebuke his shadow assistant treasurer while two LNP MPs have called for Leigh to be sacked. 

TWO pieces of protest poetry have appeared on security fencing at the redevelopment of a section of the Curtin shops. The more provocative of the two targets developer Nick Haridemos and reads:

Nicolas keeps his fence so clean

But what’s behind it is obscene

The empty shops the story tell

Curtin community go to hell

He wants a tower in the air

For the Master Plan he doesn’t care

THE second part of the posted “prose” seemingly predicts a positive outcome for the community group that has been at loggerheads with developers and their plans for several years. Signed by Vikki and Michael, of Nelson Place, the piece says:

But Mr Gentleman knows the rules

And the Curtin community are not fooled

So let’s enjoy the sun and wait

For a ministerial decision to CELEBRATE!

FORMER 2CA breakfast radio announcer Frank Vincent, who was sacked by Capital Radio in January after a female journalist made allegations of sexual harassment, has issued a statement. Posted on the radio industry site “Jocks’ Journal”, Vincent describes a recently resolved defamation claim against “The Canberra Times” as “hats off, respect to all concerned. I’m so glad we’ve got this matter sorted!” 

Vincent boasts “an unblemished, 40-year career” during which he has “enjoyed the respect and support of colleagues” including media heavyweights Doug Mulray, Wendy Harmer, Jessica Rowe, Andrew Denton and Georgie Gardiner.

AFTER a week of the predictably unpredictable Canberra spring weather, an opportunity to tweet about the weather has presented itself. The twitter account @CanberraWeather is up for grabs. The account which has been around since 2007 and has more than 2000 followers, offered: “Want to run this account? DM@cmrn”.

Thousands rally in Civic to support marriage equality

ORGANISERS estimated a crowd of 3000 turned out for today’s marriage equality rally in Civic, declaring it the “biggest LGBTI rights rally in Canberra’s history”.

The rally heard speeches from politicians including Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Federal MP Dr Andrew Leigh.“Today’s rally was the largest LGBTI rights demonstration in ACT history”, said rally organiser Con Karavias, spokesperson for Equal Love Canberra.“We are determined to use the passion and enthusiasm from today’s rally to step up our campaign so we can achieve a resounding victory.”

“We thank the thousands of ACT people who came to show their support for fairness and dignity at today’s rally.”