By Mike Welsh

Canberra’s Islamic community finally has a new place of worship, 17 years after plans were first made.

(Canberra Times Oct 8 2017)

This post was first published on July 5 2015

On Friday it took just 60 seconds for Master of the ACT Supreme Court, David Mossop, to comprehensively shut down the sinister anti-Muslim group “Concerned Citizens of Canberra” (CCC), which had attempted to “dog whistle” the Gungahlin community over a proposed Mosque two years ago.

Not only did Master Mossop dismiss the group’s legal challenge to the construction in the burgeoning Northern Canberra suburb, he also hit it with “costs”- which could exceed $200,000.

Within 20 seconds of sitting in his chair, Master Mossop stunned the six CCC supporters in court to hear the decision, with a firm “application dismissed” before quickly numbering the points of his ruling.

Following this speedy summary, “All rise” was called and Mossop was gone.

Friday’s court date forced the relentlessly secretive group to thrust their spokesperson, Christian Pastor Irwin Ross, before the media glare, an experience he seemed to relish once he got rolling.

A shocked and almost speechless Ross told me as we walked together from Court 6 , minutes after the spectacularly swift slap-down , that the group would need to “read the detail” of the document before making any statement.

The CCC’s lame mantra of a ”social impact, public interest and concerns about traffic and noise” quickly vanished and switched to its more strident agenda…

They (Muslims) are taking over. Gungahlin is just the beginning. Mosques and schools are popping up all over the place. Coles and Woolies are already full of Halal foods.

(Irwin Ross)

The Olive Tree Ministries Pastor went on to highlight the recent kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by vigilante group Boko Haram and the Boston Marathon bombing, asking, ”What’s behind all this?”

Friday’s ruling should be the final in a long list of humiliating “fails” for the CCC. The group has not gained any support for its hate campaign in the nation’s capital since the original secretive meeting, which attracted just 26 people, in July of 2012.


The same sex discussion will be here to stay, regardless of the result


By Mike Jeffreys

“Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon.” Is an oft-repeated phrase I’ve heard on radio regarding the marriage equality debate.

Trust me, it won’t.

But why take my word for that? Here’s what Simon Copland from Green Agenda had to say in 2015: “For more than a decade now, marriage equality has dominated the energies of gay and lesbian campaigners. So when we achieve it, we can all celebrate and relax, right? Not a chance.”

It’s been argued with justification over the years same-sex couples have not been entitled to the same legal rights as the heteros.

But, that has not been the case for some time now. Click on and you will see “the NSW Relationships Register provides legal recognition for de facto couples, regardless of their sex.”

Here’s Mr Copland again: “It is true that marriage has become an extremely important symbol and its passage would be seen by many as a significant milestone in indicating the willingness of the state to treat gay and lesbian people equally. Yet, unfortunately, it is little more than a symbol. In Australia marriage equality actually, has few practical impacts.”


A quick look on the Internets will confirm the issue has been around for a while now. Even back to Roman times: “…in the early Imperial period some male couples were celebrating traditional marriage rites in the presence of friends. Male-male weddings are reported by sources that mock them.”

Australians are known for mocking.

Attorney General George Brandis is busy passing laws to make sure everyone conforms to his view of civilised debate, but that may be easier said than done. Gillian Triggs, when she was president of the Human Rights Commission, lamented: “Sadly you can say (outside) what you like around the kitchen table at home.”

If Steve and Kev announce at a mixed dinner party that they are now married, and a non-believer rolls his eyes and says “Of course you are”, will the hostess be obliged to call the thought police?

Emperor Nero celebrated public weddings with men, possibly once as the groom, and twice as the bride.

The ceremonies included traditional elements such as a dowry and the wearing of the Roman bridal veil. Other mature men at his court had husbands, or said they had husbands in imitation of the emperor (always good to keep on side with the boss). And yet, even though satire would have been a risky business in those days, there was still mocking.


The rector of one of Sydney’s more fashionable cathedrals told me in conversation that he was “surprised that the gays, with their lifestyles, would choose the bourgeois cul-de-sac of marriage.”


I have known a few Steve and Kevs, but some gay males of my acquaintance have admitted being hedonists, merely out for a good time. Some have complained to me that the Mardi Gras has become dull because of the lesbian influence.

Could it be – despite what Cyndi Lauper used to say – it’s the boys who just want to have fun, while the girls are earnest and political?

The rector of one of Sydney’s more fashionable cathedrals told me in conversation that he was “surprised that the gays, with their lifestyles, would choose the bourgeois cul-de-sac of marriage.”

Although male couples are mostly used to illustrate media stories (the ABC uses photographs of men who look like they could have stepped out of a Fletcher Jones window in 1956) according to the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, women were more likely to participate in the survey than men. It’s been claimed that most of the signatories to the AMA petition accusing anyone who opposes same sex marriage of acting like a racist are women.

Just looking at the list of names certainly seems to confirm that.

I spoke to a visiting US professor who has studied the issue extensively and put it to her from my years of discussing the issue that the big push for gay marriage seemed to be from females.

She agreed and said: “What little girl doesn’t want a big white wedding?”

But what then?

Also on The Big Smoke

If a daughter’s aim is to convince Mum that marrying another woman is a real marriage just like cousin Amelia who married a man, because the “Yes” vote won and the State says so, will that satisfy Mum’s biological imperative to become a grandmother?

And speaking of lesbians, one I know told me because she couldn’t have a child that was truly hers and her lover’s, she wouldn’t be doing it.

That seemed to be a grown up position from someone who knows her own mind. “Boston Marriage” was a term used in the 19th and early 20th century to refer to two single women living together, independent of men. The term was originally coined in Henry James’ novel The Bostonians, which told the tale of an intimate companionship between two wealthy, Boston women.

But whether giving that arrangement state sanction and calling it “a marriage” will keep Mum happy when there are no grandkids seems unlikely to me. Sadly you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.

While the ladies may love a wedding no matter what the makeup of the happy couple, I’ll put my money on biology winning in the end. Pick your poll to support your argument (although most say “Yes” will win, 67% of Telegraphreaders will say “No”).

But “Yes” or “No”, you can be sure campaigners will keep campaigning, people who don’t feel the imprimatur of the state or the church is necessary to legitimise their relationships will continue to make their own arrangements and parents who want direct descendants will still be disappointed.

Lisa Simpson, when confronted with the chant from Springfield’s gay pride marchers, “We’re here, we’re queer – get used to it” says: “You say that every year, we’re used to it.”

It’s a situation that has waxed and waned for at least a couple of thousand years that we know of, and no matter what the postman delivers, I don’t think it’s going to be resolved anytime soon.

Mike Jeffreys has been a radio broadcaster most of his working life, with occasional forays in to other media. He’s been seen lately on SKY NEWS. He has three sons and is a mediocre poker player.

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.”


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


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”.


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”.

IMG_8013 (1)

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.



By Mike Welsh

Jennifer was killed near my place a few years ago. While I’m not sure exactly when and how she died, I do know she is sorely missed, at least by her mother. It is clear she perished after a vehicle left the road and hit a large tree.  Apart from that I know that her mother wants her memory to live on.

How do I know about Jennifer?  There is a bright and uncluttered roadside memorial attached to a large tree just around the corner from my place.

I wasn’t aware the memorial was dedicated to Jennifer until recently. The tribute to Jennifer is always simple and fresh and unavoidable. Flowers and messages mainly. But today I couldn’t avoid the large, personal sign which appeared.

roadside memorial

 I’ve conducted several interviews on my radio program with the  authors of books on the subject of Roadside memorials.    Apparently there are scores of books available on the topic,  mostly filled with poignant pictures of wooden crosses on the  sides of highways from all around the world. Although in some  parts of the world tributes are distinctly different. In Ireland for  example you’ll see actual headstones or piles of rock with a  cross atop. In Canada they are more organised. The  government pays for a bunch of crosses with the deceased  person’s name and a road safety message included.

It’s almost impossible to drive by a roadside memorial without  giving some thought to what you see. There’s no  confusion.    But there is always, to someone, a tragic story  attached.

Is it sobering and upsetting if there’s a cuddly toy and photo frame featuring a child in amongst the flowers and candles?  A child perished at that spot.

Often when a teenager dies in a car smash their peers shower a makeshift memorial site with all manner of items.  Cans of alcohol, footy caps and scarves, graffiti. They have few other ways of dealing with the loss. These mostly fade with the months and years. Others are meant to be permanent.

I’ve often wondered as I pass the tribute near my place whether the extensive maintenance undertaken to keep the memorial alive actually helps the family left behind deal with its loss. Is it none of my business? Was it disrespectful of me to take and publish a photo of Jennifer’s site?

Some experts in the field of grief and loss suggest the concept of roadside memorials is more about those who are, or wish to be, unconventional. Church and graveyard displays are the traditional manner in which to remember the departed.

And while from a practical viewpoint, local governments   grapple with this sensitive issue, it seems there are those who find the concept of roadside memorials distasteful and even offensive.

The Separation of Church and State issue, surprisingly, rears its boofhead. Because most sites include a cross, a universal sign of death and loss, this automatically also means Christianity and that, for some, just won’t do.  This was the basis for a change of the law in the state of Florida in the late 90s.

It’s also distressing to learn of in incident in Portland, Oregon several years ago. Somebody decided it was ok to compact the grief of a family by erecting signs featuring black crosses with a red slash though them. The Black Prince’s calling card “666” was tossed in for greater effect. Not to mention memorials ripped out only to be replaced, time and time again by grieving relatives.

And of course there is always the old chestnut about the distraction sites create for passing motorists.

But all I can think of at this time of year is Jennifer’s mother and her grief and another Christmas they won’t share.