CANBERRA CITY NEWS MAY 16

CANBERRA was Bob Hawke territory. The Labor legend spent more time here than most of his fellow Lodge dwellers and, unlike most who spent time in that high office, sport was Hawke’s major leisure pastime. Among the Canberra-themed Hawke stories being shared, many involve the Raiders. 

Hawke’s premiership coincided with the Green Machine’s purple patch and underpinning Hawke’s “People’s PM” mantle are the many classic photos of a grey-suited Hawke enthusiastically sharing a beer with sweaty and often topless footballers after another Raiders win.

THE Hawke reputation was formed decades before he strode the national political stage. While many tales of the Rhodes Scholar’s boozing can’t be told, there is one from his time as a student at the ANU. Often dismissed as myth but confirmed by author Dr Jill Waterhouse in “University House, As They Experience It: A History 1954-2004”, a naked Hawke in 1957 “was one of five students who, in very high spirits, swam about in the ornamental goldfish pond at University House.”

FROM all the words written about him since his passing it’s impossible for anyone to claim to have nailed the impact the flawed but brilliant Hawke had on Australians. But Canberra social commentator Melinda Tankard Reist, for my money, came very close with: “I had never seen a male adult in my family cry when I saw Bob Hawke shed tears on TV. It was almost shocking and in retrospect, a gift to Australian men.”

RECENTLY I made a mental note to purchase some Bob Hawke beer after spotting the craft brew from Hawke’s Brewing Co on special at a suburban grocer. I popped back in around 4.30 on Thursday afternoon to buy a six pack, only to be told it had just sold out. Spooky?

NOT everyone is impressed with our light rail. A Sydney visitor very keen to experience the new transport mode hectored their host for a ride. Eventually relenting, the host organised a round trip from the city to Gungahlin. At journey’s end the visitor’s only comment was “don’t like the scenery”. Apparently it was “too concrete” resembling the “major thoroughfare of an eastern-bloc city”. May have been a cloudy day. Can’t please everyone.

The 1959 handmade suit in the window of Sam Catanzariti Menswear. Photo: Mike Welsh

STILL in the city and with a mini-Manhattan skyline rising above it, it’s nice to know there is still some old-fashioned craft appreciated. On display in Sam Catanzariti Menswear’s window in Allara Street is a mid-grey, double-breasted suit. The suit was handmade by Sam himself in 1959 for a local man who wore it until his death in 2009. Before donating the garment (made from pure wool baratier fabric) to present owner Jovan Nikolevski, the man’s widow sent it to the dry cleaners who found two ticket stubs to the Dress Circle of the Royal Theatre in Sydney dated October 27, 1962.

AS the keeper of chooks I am beginning to feel nervous about proposed new laws for the ACT which recognise animals as sentient beings (able to perceive or feel things). If enacted, the legislation will dictate that animals have “intrinsic value and deserve to be treated with compassion”. Therefore we humans have “a duty to care for the physical and mental welfare” of our animals. I confess I may at times have spoken brusquely to my chooks when the production of eggs slowed and possibly subtly suggested an “axe” was hanging over them when laying stopped completely.

Who is the fairest of them all… Richard Luton or Madonna?

THE end of an extremely dull Federal election campaign was brightened by Canberra real estate agent Richard Luton, who posted on Instagram a picture of himself (at the 2018 Luton Charity Ball) and a picture of Madonna (at the Billboard Women in Music Awards) both wearing similar flamboyant suits. Luton asks: “Who wore it better?… This is more important than general election”. Observing AEC regulations Luton urged followers: “Need your vote by 6pm, Saturday”. The result? Too close to call.

CITY NEWS SEVEN DAYS AUG 21

TWO towering political figures returned to the capital to celebrate the 90th birthday of Old Parliament House.

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Speaking at the National Press Club, former Lodge dwellers Bob Hawke and John Howard – who between them led the nation for almost 20 years – lamented the lack of life skills of those currently serving the nation. The former political foes shared consensus on the contemporary crop: “Career politicians without sufficient life experience are letting the public down”.

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IT follows then that political advisers may also lack the necessary experience to guide their charges. Pauline Hanson’s appalling burqa stunt is a case in point. An April, 2011, op-ed in “The Australian” on political stunts, by former Hanson mentor John Pasquarelli, highlights the ineptness of today’s political minders. Pasquarelli wrote: “The desire to make the evening news makes MPs do very silly things such as fruit picking, filling sandbags, dancing and wearing silly clothes. Our elected representatives make fools of themselves and their political message is diminished. Such corny things turn the ordinary Australian off”.

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STILL on stunts and there was a time if Craig Reucassel was spotted in Canberra, a message went out to pollies to make themselves scarce lest they be ambushed by a bunch of undergrad filmmakers. Craig and his “Chaser” mates forged lucrative careers through pranks that mostly saw pollies on the losing end of a stunt filmed for a television series. Reucassel, documenting the more serious topic of waste, hosting “War on Waste” for the ABC was in Canberra gathering footage for a follow up to the successful series.

THE tone of the SSM postal poll campaign may be already locked in with the gatecrashing of an anti-Safe School rally in Civic by members of the LGBTI community. Speakers, including NSW MP Fred Nile and ACL MD Lyle Sheltonwere shouted down by opponents waving rainbow flags and banners. Police report the event ended peacefully without arrests. However a spokesperson has warned of further trouble suggesting: “The LGBTI community had been passive for so long. Maybe that needs to stop because we are getting walked all over”.

MEANTIME, Shelton took to social media to express fears over what is in store for those who oppose same-sex legislation. Following an egging of the ACL’s Deakin offices Shelton tweeted: “Saturday, activists shouted down mums concerned about ‘Safe Schools’, yesterday they threatened to post ‘noxious’ substances, today this”. The lobbyist, who rarely backs down from an argument – or a media opportunity – says the ACL has been forced to employ private security and notify police weeks in advance of any rally.

AND clear positions have been taken by local media on the postal poll, at least in the case of Mix-FM’s breakfast newsreader, David Sharaz. The former SBS journalist used social media to back CM Andrew Barr, bizarrely tweeting: “Don’t worry Chief. Nobody looks back at the civil rights movement with regret. You’re on the right side of history”. And: “Rallying against marriage equality in the ACT is pointless. It’s like trying to promote smoking in a hospital”.

ASSEMBLY member for Ginninderra Tara Cheyne is finding it difficult to move forward. She continues to feature prominently on the Belconnen Community Centre website more than 18 months after leaving the organisation. Ms Cheyne resigned as chair of the BCC in December, 2015, after being pre-selected by Labor.

ACCURATE stats on people attempting suicide from the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge are scarce but such attempts, while not common, continue to occur. A Canberra man visiting the bridge several years ago, on the anniversary of his son’s suicide there, was shattered to witness police drag the body of another young man from the water. Last week one more young person jumped off the bridge during peak-hour traffic. While funding was found for a higher rail to protect cyclists from falling into traffic on the bridge, there appears no such priority to suicide proof the iconic structure.