AFL writer Patrick Smith’s analysis of the impact Ainslie transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey would have on the AFLW slightly misses the mark.

The AFL blocked the 196-centimetre-tall, 100-kilogram player from the national AFLW draft due to “physical disparity”.

Smith, writing in “The Australian” underrates the local league: “Those who argue if Mouncey was going to make football a one-sided affair in the AFLW then she would decimate the local Canberra league…. The Canberra league is far more relaxed. It is not quite social football”.

Smith has seemingly overlooked the five Canberran players in the Giant’s squad alone and the four locals who played for premiership club Adelaide.

CANBERRA-born sports journalist Erin Molan is tipped to anchor a renovated NRL “Footy Show” in 2018. The 30-something personality, who began her career at the local WIN TV network, was among the first names floated to replace the “axed” Paul “Fatty” Vautin who has anchored the Channel Nine league staple for almost a quarter of a century.

Molan’s career has flourished since moving to Sydney TV in 2010 and now includes an Australian Commercial Radio Award for the Best Newcomer at 2GB.

FORMER Raiders star Josh Dugan has vowed to dedicate the next phase of his colourful career “to saving others”. The pledge comes after the South Tuggeranong junior publicly thanked his partner, Jordan Danielle.

Dugan told the “Sydney Morning Herald’s” Danny Weidler, that she “has kept me sane and saved me in many ways. When I was younger I didn’t have anyone, that was my downfall in Canberra”.

The State-of-Origin star says he’s turned his life around, especially outside footy.

“I’m working on getting my diploma of mental health… I’ve struggled with that a little bit since I was a bit younger,” he says..

A SHORTLISTING for a prestigious Walkley award has capped off a stellar year for journalist Chris Uhlmann. In late August the former ABC political editor landed the plum gig as Channel Nine’s Canberra bureau chief replacing the retiring Laurie Oakes.

A month earlier Uhlmann’s report on Donald Trump’s appearance at the G20 summit in Hamburg went viral, drawing over a million views. The piece, for the ABC “Insiders” program, gives the journalist the opportunity to win a second Walkley after first being recognised in 2008.

WHILE Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie seeks to hobble the lobbying industry in Canberra, one group seeking access to policy makers was given the red carpet. Australian screen legends Bryan Brown, Sigrid Thornton, Leah Purcell and Gillian Armstrong were among a delegation that came to the capital to lobby politicians to get behind the Australian TV and film industry.

The high-profile Make it Australian campaigners are fighting for change in several areas including reform of local content rules and restoration of funding for public broadcasters and Screen Australia.

CANBERRA Libs have been accused of making local music festivals unsafe after successfully halting a pill-testing trial planned for November’s Spilt Milk event.

Acting Health Minister and Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury slammed shadow A-G Jeremy Hansonafter the groundbreaking trial was stopped on legal grounds.

Rattenbury says festivals “will now be more dangerous than if the pill testing trial went ahead”.

An unofficial pill-testing service, provided by harm-reduction activists, remains a faint possibility at up-coming local music festivals.

THERE’S an old saying in the Sport Of Kings about changing fortunes. “Going from Old Gold chocolates to boiled lollies” is an adage former Canberra political couple, Ian De Landelles and Mary Porter are now sadly all too familiar with. The retired political adviser and the former MLA are part-owners of the thoroughbred Fell Swoop which ran in the world’s richest turf race, the inaugural $10 million Everest Stakes at Randwick. Unfortunately the horse was injured during the race and earned the dubious claim of being the first to run last in the Everest.

The Firestorm Which Failed To Dim The Red Lights of Canberra

By Mike Welsh

circleOn the 12th anniversary of the ferocious firestorm which abruptly roared through Canberra’s South, I’m hoping sufficient  time has elapsed to look at the poignant and lighter side of the events of that extraordinary and unforgettable  day.  A day when 504 homes were destroyed and 4 people lost their lives.

Just after midday on Saturday Jan 18, 2003 (with the local ABC still broadcasting tennis from Melbourne) my radio station 2CC had already been on maximum alert for six hours. The official warning “siren” sound effect broadcast in the event of a disaster had been wailing since early morning.  Many of we radio “old hands” had never heard this sound effect before.  All available staff and many volunteers had enthusiastically clocked on to cover what, at the time was considered no more than a bushfire, posing a serious threat to parts of the Bush Capital.


Canberra, which had been casually alert for most of the past 10 days was now about to become extremely alarmed.

I was tossed a set of car keys and told to get to a press conference at which it was anticipated a state of emergency would be declared.

Having landed in Canberra just two weeks earlier and having no clue as to the direction I should head, I made an executive decision and commandeered a junior journo to ride shotgun with me to Emergency Services Bureau HQ in Curtin.

It wasn’t until we had left Northbourne Ave and were crossing Commonwealth Ave Bridge that Junior Journo sheepishly confessed to being just as clueless as I.

He’d lobbed in town from Wagga Wagga just 3 weeks earlier. We continued to drive and miraculously stumbled upon Curtin.

Our day and that of tens of thousands of Canberrans was about to become surreal.

Hastily arranged, in no particular pecking order, at a long, narrow conference room table alongside Canberra based network “superstars”, we waited. (Laurie Oakes and Paul Bongiorno, in summer weekend attire of shorts, floral shirts and Dr Scholls sandals is a rare sight to behold)

With choppers hovering overhead dousing the embers which had begun to fall on the roof, a trio of slightly agitated and confused men, AFP Chief, ACT Fire Chief and ACT Chief Minister  Jon Stanhope, was huddled together.

From just centimetres away it was clear from the animated but whispered conversation that possibly there were just a few too many “chiefs” with no clear format for declaring a State of Emergency.

canberra firestorm
The Roof of the ESB in Curtin

State of Emergency eventually but inelegantly declared, we headed  into the heart of the fire, only to be stopped by police and funnelled with scores of vehicles fleeing the destruction into the car park of a large shopping mall.

We spent the next 2 hours among a large and ever-growing group of people who had been ordered to evacuate their homes and suburbs or be arrested.

Their shocked and defeated body language was on display for all to see, people alighted vehicles which had been hastily jammed with their worldly possessions: suitcases, picture frames and pets. Many had had less than 10 minutes to evacuate. Some already knew they had no home to return to. Others just hoped and prayed. Being a journalist on a day like this was very difficult.

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An eerie darkness fell over the south of Canberra just after 3 accompanied by a bright orange ring around the horizon and the frightening tornado like sound of what was a ferocious fire storm ravaging over 500 family homes nearby. With no mobile coverage we could no longer report back to 2CC in the Northern suburb of Mitchell where the sun was shining brightly.

Back in Mitchell on air that night I took a call from the BBC. Londoners were waking to the far-fetched news that the Capital city of Australia had been totally destroyed by fire. The BBC man was surprised we were still able to broadcast and needed some convincing that Canberra had not been completely obliterated.

We took hundreds of calls to air that night, including one from an eccentric elderly lady who had been forced into a makeshift emergency shelter for the night. Like many she only had time to pack one large bag of her belongings before being ordered to leave her home.  At the shelter some “low bastard” she told me had stolen her lippy and several wigs from her stash of possessions.

A stoic campaigner she appreciated the humour in my comment about “someone pulling the RUGS out from under her” at such a stressful time.

Another pig-headed open line caller refused to grasp the grim reality that the city was essentially locked down and cut in half. Her boyfriend, a methadone patient, was “climbing the walls” because his local clinic had closed. She demanded I get her man his Methadone.

But the most significant aspect of the long day of disaster was the obvious resilience of Canberra’s famously ordered sex industry

At midnight, with the charred remains of over 500 homes still glowing in the South, four people dead and scores of injuries, the Red Light district of Mitchell in the North still bore its distinct crimson glow.

When Cheryl Went Feral On TONE

By Mike Welsh


You can take the girl out of the Democrats but you can’t take the Democrats out of a National Living Treasure

Cheryl K #3

Labour’s one time superstar recruit  Cheryl Kernot and NLT spoke to me on radio recently .  And given the former Democrat leader was in town to speak at a symposium on social responsibility, we talked largely about her current passion for social responsibility and the responsibility of corporate Australia to follow in the footsteps of Bill and Melinda Gates.

Cheryl Kernot required little prompting to expand on her boundless passion for social responsibility in society,  citing impressive examples from several sectors of society of how the concept can co exist.  She laughed heartily when I asked her if this “new” passion wasn’t new at all,just the Democrat coming out. She said she laughed because it was right.


We did dip a toe into the putrid and treacherous waters of personal politics and the frustrating double standards universally applied to woman by the men in blue and grey suits who run the “joint”   out of Canberra.

But Cheryl’s  passion and motivation quickly switched to near ferocity as she sparked up deluxe on the sexism and  nastiness which she says still exists in Australian politics.

And Ms Kernot had a salient message for Prime Minister Tony Abbott.  She says the tone of politics must be the same in opposition as it is in Government. She said it’s “hard for Tone  (Abbott) to turn around and say let’s have a mature conversation now he’s PM when we didn’t have it for the past 4 or 5 years”

“you can’t do that to people and pretend it was only for the purpose of winning  power but now you are serious about having a conversation”  


And Ms Kernot feels empathy for another Labour star recruit, the novice, Nova Peris. She said she knows exactly how the  athlete feels and offered the embattled Senator some advice on how to weather a political storm blown up by a “steamy” and “sordid” sex scandal.


“You almost lose sight of who you are. Keep your family close and your good friends over a long period of time close and  they will filter what is being said about you”


Laurie Oake’s expose of her infamous affair with then Attorney General Gareth Evans is still close to the surface and while she won’t show it, or stir the cauldron of viciousness which was tipped on her from many quarters, it has left a nasty psychological scar .

Ms Kernot says she was shocked to see first hand, while living in the UK after leaving politics, just how different the political landscape was compared with Australia.

“The UK parliament and the public conversation was civilised. Our system is very, very personal, banal and downright nasty on occasions” 

 kernot caritureweekly red cheryl

 And in amongst that Ms Kernot, now in her mid 60s, lamented the lack of a thick hide which , among other things, hindered her progress through the political scene. Although she was emphatic a robust rump prevented you from having any sort of empathy, which makes it impossible to have the impact most people enter politics to have..