By Mike Welsh

IF the city of mostly true believers is still disappointed by the election result it could always build a bridge and get over it. Speculation of a brand, spanking new structure spanning Lake Burley Griffin might just be the tonic. 

The National Capital Authority has confirmed a study of completely replacing Commonwealth Avenue Bridge will begin, rather than building a separate structure to accommodate light rail to Woden.

AND if a new bridge doesn’t do it, a naked man walking across the existing one with a pumpkin on his head surely would. Thankfully we won’t be exposed to such a spectacle after Sydney journalist Eddy Jokovich reneged on his pledge to “walk nude from Sydney to Canberra balancing a pumpkin on my head” if the coalition won the Federal election.

Pumpkinhead Eddy’s copped a shellacking on social media in the days since, pathetically responding on Twitter: “To all those perverts with their binoculars out there expecting this to happen, if the Liberals can lie and break their promises, so can I. None of the polls predicted Morrison’s re-election, few expected it. People make mistakes. Go and have a cold shower, all of you”. 

Given shrinkage and Canberra’s climate, a nothing-to-see-here-folks headline has gone begging.

SCOTT Morrison’s miraculous victory has brought the “fast tracking” of Canberra’s light rail to Woden to a shuddering halt. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr must now explore other avenues of funding. Stage 2 was more likely under a Shorten government with its pledge of $200 million. A shellshocked Barr suggested the re-election of the coalition was “going to set back the time frame, there’s no doubting that,” with 2025 “a more realistic time frame”.

IF the next ACT election takes on a Trump/ScoMo presidential tone the Canberra Liberals will need Mark Parton as its leader. Armed with little, the local Libs won’t be able to resist a “Barr will tax you to death” version of the “Crooked Hillary” and “Shifty Bill” template which worked a treat for Donald Trump and Scott Morrison.

Morrison is the consummate salesman. Parton is a very good salesman. Both have extensive experience in media roles before entering politics and the skills to “buy and sell” career political types such as Bill Shorten and, locally, Alistair Coe. Political campaigns are now 100 per cent sizzle with no room for sausage.

WITHIN 48 hours of the first quiet murmurs of a Labor defeat turning into a loud roar, reinstated ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher had put the bite on me. Late on Monday I received a “Don’t mourn, join” email from the former ACT chief minister. “Mike, Saturday night’s election was disappointing for Labor supporters and voters across Australia. But now it’s time to rally together and look to the fight ahead”. Before the signwriters had even reattached the shingle to her new/old office, Katy was asking me “to join our progressive movement and become a member of the ALP”.

THE once fierce resistance to Canberra’s annual kangaroo cull has dimmed over recent times, but the 2019 program targeting a record number of roos has reawakened protesters’ rage. Twenty four organisations, including filmmaker Creative Cowboy and British-based vegan charity Viva, have issued a statement condemning the killing of 4076 kangaroos and unknown numbers of joeys. The group claims: “When global scientists have issued the strongest call yet to reverse ‘nature’s dangerous decline’, the ACT government is overseeing the cruel mass slaughter of over 4000 kangaroos.”

STILL on activism; Manuka’s fashionable district is not known for its tree huggers nor is it traditionally a haven for those with a penchant for civil disobedience, which is a relief because such action is no longer necessary to save a mature London Plane tree in Franklin Street. A ruling by the Conservator for Flora and Fauna Ian Walker, has blocked the destruction of the tree standing in the way of a proposed European-style, neoclassical, seven-storey hotel near the Capitol Cinema.

THE good folk of Curtin have been very generous with donations to the recent Anglicare Pantry appeal. Volunteers spent the weekend outside the local Coles store and gathered around 5000 items. The supermarket manager says that takings were up $30,000 for the week and the food items donated during the weekend filled more than 40 trolleys.


A CANBERRA man who has been suffering for more than 60 years on an almost daily basis from the effects of sexual abuse, says the National Apology speech “finally got it”.

Raped by a Catholic teaching brother in Tasmania at the age of eight, 71-year-old Chris was anxious and undecided about attending the historic event. He’s now glad he did.


Chris said the speeches by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten – which brought him to tears – “captured the mood”, and while the pain of abuse will never fade, attending the event enabled him to “climb another mountain”.

AFTER the official ceremony Morrison visited Parliament House lawns where he moved comfortably among hundreds of sexual-abuse survivors, their families and supporters, chatting, hugging and patiently listening to their painful stories.

As his minders became anxious, the PM had run way over time, ’70s pop heartthrob Daryl Braithwaite came to the rescue. The former Sherbet front man and his band rocked into the first bars of their set giving ScoMo the cue to move. With a quick nod to Braithwaite the PM and his posse were gone.


A TWEET from independent senator Derryn Hinch – also a child sex-abuse survivor – perfectly captured the mood on the lawns of Parliament House. Hinch tweeted on @HumanHeadline: “Today was one of the most humbling days of my life. Walking around Parliament House lawns after the National Apology from Morrison and Shorten was amazing. The pain in grown-men’s eyes said it all.”


A LITTLE over 24 hours later the PM’s behind-the-scenes-crew went above and beyond to prepare a Mitchell small business for a visit. At 9.30pm Tuesday Pure Gelato owner Zoltan Tolgyesi agreed to host Morrison and a media pack of 30 early the following morning, but was concerned his shop wasn’t prime ministerial ready.

“No problem,” said the advance crew, “meet you there in 20 minutes”. Sleeves were rolled up, rubber gloves employed and by 11pm the showroom was ready for the PM’s “energy requirements” visit. Zoltan is still shaking his head at their professionalism. And ScoMo’s fave gelato? Boysenberry Cheesecake.

IMG_6797 copy.jpg

IN a week of apologies, another politician issued one of his own. Frustrated Liberal MLA Mark Partonposted a two-minute video aimed at “individuals languishing at the end of a long public housing waiting list, struggling to afford private rental.”

Parton claims his Land Tax Amendment Bill would have “eased the rental affordable crisis in the ACT” but without support from Labor and the Greens it failed. A defeated Parton offered the heartfelt mea culpa “I’m sorry, we tried”.

SEEMS like the cynics may have had a win on the Light Rail project.

Many scoffed at the “coming in 2018” slogan plastered on promotional material draped along the route. It has been confirmed the project is lagging several months behind schedule.

In July I reported that while the project may well be completed in December, first passengers would not be carried until the first quarter of 2019.

COULD the still-knotted, navy blue, handmade, silk, designer-label necktie I picked up from the gutter on Commonwealth Avenue be indicative of Canberrans adopting the national trend of a more casual dress code for the office? According to corporate fashion consultants “casual is in and stuffiness is out”. The trendsetters say men are “ditching ties and women are showing shoulders.”

THE penny has finally dropped at Canberra radio station Mix 106.3.After countless efforts to import talent to snag a greater slice of the local audience local lad Nigel Johnson is returning to breakfast radio. Installing one half of the hugely successful FM 104.7 duo of Scotty and Nige has always been a “no brainer’. A truism in radio is that localism wins. Blow-ins constantly mentioning “Tuggers” or “Charnie” or Mooseheads will fail dismally against the genuine local “cred” of Johnson and those of his radio ilk.


“It was in Canberra wild rocker Jimmy Barnes met his wife, then 21-year-old uni student Jane Mahoney – a diplomat’s daughter – at an after-gig party,” writes Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH

THE devotion of some rock fans is mighty impressive. Forty-something Cold Chisel devotee Madelin left her Cootamundra home before 6am and headed for Dymocks at Westfield Belconnen.


Arriving at 8.30am Madelin – who has been attending Chisel concerts since 1987 – landed the coveted top spot in the queue to meet her hero Jimmy Barneswho wasn’t scheduled to rock up until 12.30pm. But rock up Barnes did and cheerfully signed copies of his latest book “Working Class Man” and posed for pics for over two hours.

CANBERRA is a significant chapter in the extraordinary Barnes’ life story. It was here the wild rocker met his wife, then 21-year-old uni student Jane Mahoney – a diplomat’s daughter – at an after-gig party, a meeting the Cold Chisel frontman will never forget: “Sitting in the corner of the room, not saying a word, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She looked like a princess, not someone you would see in a Motel 7 in the outer suburbs of Canberra”.

ANOTHER famous Australian with a strong Canberra connection also recently returned to his old stomping ground. Former PM Kevin Rudd was back at his alma mater, the ANU, to plug his latest book “Not for the Faint-hearted”.

Demonstrating the famous Rudd humility the former Lodge dweller charmed a near-capacity Llewellyn Hall audience including a 22-year-old woman wearing a “Kevin 07” T-shirt. During the “Conversation with Stan Grant” Rudd shared opinions of Tony Abbott: “the most destructive and negative politician we’ve produced”, Donald Trump: “a madman” and the Murdoch press as “a cancer on our democracy”.

CANBERRA bashers and cynics were quick to fire up on social media in the wake of “Lonely Planet” listing the capital as the world’s third best city to visit in 2018. Canberra curmudgeon Bernard Keane clearly disagrees, tweeting to the universe: “Memo to the rest of the world: @lonelyplanet is full of s*@t. Canberra is a great place to bring up kids, but ain’t no holiday destination.”

But “Lonely Planet’s” Chris Zeiher says: “The city has been hiding in plain sight. Rich with history, culture and entertainment, it offers something for every kind of traveller.”

CANBERRA lawyer Mark Blumer has broadened his legal horizons. The founder of personal-injury lawyers Blumers has financed a play being staged by the Tasmanian Theatre Company dealing with one of that state’s most controversial and divisive criminal cases. Blumer is executive producer of “An Inconvenient Woman”, which spotlights the judicial system surrounding the case of Susan Neill-Fraser, who is serving a long prison term for the murder of her de-facto Bob Chappell on Australian Day 2009.

THE mystery of a lush green tree sprouting from the top floor of the 20 storey Infinity Towers construction at Gungahlin has been explained. According to Wikipedia, the practice known as “topping out” goes back to ancient Scandinavia where a tree was placed at the top of a structure to appease the tree-dwelling spirits displaced during construction.

AN un-raced and un-named greyhound will soon be carrying the fortunes/future of local greyhound racing. Liberal spokesman for racing and gaming Mark Partonpromoted the syndication of the dog (20 members paying $300 each) designed to keep alive a campaign to prevent the Barr government from closing the industry. The Community Values syndicate – so called after Regulatory Services Minister Gordon Ramsay claimed the sport was “out of line with community values” – was reportedly oversubscribed within an hour of release.

AND talk about giving a dog a bad name; I was recently mistaken for a Liberal Party flunkey. Filming a lunchtime Unions ACT rally outside the Assembly – in the wake of Opposition Leader Alistair Coe’s inflammatory comments about unions – I was approached by a union official who demanded my credentials. When he became aware of the facts he backed off with: “That’s okay, then; I thought you were one of Coe’s team”.


By Mike Welsh

My former radio colleague Mark Parton is about to become an ACT Politician. Something he’s coveted for a very long time. He’s well qualified and ready to hit the ground running but I’m begging him not to.Formally endorsed by the Liberal Party on Monday and 3 months out from the ACT election, the former 2CC Breakfast personality is already speaking and acting like a typical Politician.

…..”His comments suggest he’s ready, willing and able to employ the disingenuous dexterity required to be able to stand for nothing while sitting on the fence and toeing the party line”…..

In an article by Kirsten Lawson in the Canberra Times on Tuesday; Mark Parton: An about-turn on poker machines in the casino; probed on his first political back flip, Parton said people were not “born as robots with the party mantra….. and from time to time would hold a different position to their part “…adding….”I think one of the healthiest things about the Liberal Party is that it is such a broad church. I know that there will be some things that we may disagree on. But I’m also a team man”….

Has “Parto” revealed exactly the type of representative he’ll be? In resorting to the well-worn and mealy mouthed broad church slogan (universally the refuge of politicians seeking to escape scrutiny) he’s hinted he may be just another of the many unimaginative and compliant members who consistently inhabit the ACT Assembly. The last thing Canberra needs. His comments suggest he’s ready, willing and able to employ the disingenuous dexterity required to be able to stand for nothing while sitting on the fence and toeing the party line.

The ACT assembly already has more than its quota of dickheads, dopes and duds. What it needs is somebody who refuses to become just another party politician. Somebody who is a genuine representative and advocate for their community.

Parton will win a seat in the Assembly and he deserves to. He’s young, energetic and passionate and could bring something refreshing to politics in the ACT. But does he have the balls to do it? The national electorate just had something very succinct to say about professional politicians and party politics. They don’t like them. The electorate, real people, wants genuine people to represent them not puppets.

Mark Parton has a golden opportunity to become that “real” representative. He knows how to use the media and is well connected to the community. His endorsement so far appears to be a political party opportunistically picking an individual with a strong profile who can swing a few extra votes at the election and then fall in line with the party agenda.

Please Mark, don’t become just another politician. Though if you do who knows, a few years down the track you could end up in the Senate when your party does a “Gary Humphries” on Zed Seselja.