F*CK ME NOT THE PLANET

Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH wonders about the propriety of the climate protest by girls from a northside private school.  citynews.com.au

MOST students attending Canberra’s Global Climate Strike rally skipped classes with their schools’ blessing. But should those in charge at one northside private, Christian school be more engaged in students attending future protests?

In a sea of provocative signs, including one featuring Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal, captioned “Old King Coal was a Merry Arsehole”, four female students from the faith-based school in full uniform proudly held a placard which took the “make-love-not-war” mantra of their grandparents’ era to a new level.

FROM an oversharing generation to a member of one who should know better comes this pre-Midwinter Ball overshare story. Former ABC breakfast TV host Virginia Trioli tweeted: “Travelling from Melbourne to Canberra with a thousand yards of tulle on a nail-bitingly tight flight for the Parliament #midwinter ball. Hair and make-up will be done in the lav: Apologies to all on board”.

Within an hour “The Australian” was reporting an in-flight tantrum, alleging one ball guest had their knickers in a bunch en route about the placement of her $5000 dress. The paper later retracted its reportage and made a personal apology to Trioli.

THERE’S a booze ban at Bruce. As the city turns greener, Raiders players got “on the wagon” from Mal Meninga Medal night onwards in order to be clear headed for Friday’s preliminary final against South Sydney.

A “Sydney Morning Herald” piece on coaches’ eccentricities: “The traits that make the NRL’S coaching kingpins a cut above”, attempts to psychoanalyse Raiders’ coach Ricky Stuart. The article, by Phil Lutton, also speculates on Wayne BennettCraig Bellamyand Des Hasler, suggesting many “are deeply eccentric. Some are superstitious, others make a point of dispensing with the mystical and building their empires on relentless work and dedication”.

According to Lutton, Stuart falls into the paranoia group: “His team v the world when Ricky Stuart, master of the siege mentality, is on deck”.

IT’S been a busy week on the hill with all manner of visitors, including a Peregrine falcon called Floyd. The bird came to the rescue of Parliament House horticulturalists who are again drowning in duck droppings and ducking dive-bombing magpies. Federal Parliament’s pristine gardens and forecourt are under attack and Floyd has been tasked with dispersing the menacing Maggies and ducks with diarrhoea.

Three days walking from Collector to protest press freedom… 77-year-old Adrienne Carpenter and her dog Phoebe. Photo: Mike Welsh

A 77-year-old Collector woman and her dog had a message for Canberra on press freedoms and walked from her home to deliver it. Adrienne Carpenter says: “When I heard about [lawyer] Bernard Collaery, I just had to do something”.

Adrienne and Phoebe pushed her “Freedom of the Press” baby pram 70 kilometres over three days, camping overnight in the snow at Lake George.

LAST September Falun Gong practitioners assembled on Parliament House lawns highlighting the widespread practice of human organ harvesting in China. But their protest was thwarted as inside, political practitioners including senators Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson, were slobbering over visiting superstar Olivia Newton-John.

Ditto this week, only this time starstruck pollies were fawning over the likes of Hugo Weaving and Rhys Muldoon in town, again, to lobby for more local content in the local film industry, as the Falun Gong, again, lobbied on the lawns in silence.

SEEMINGLY the country’s first human rights compliant correctional facility, the Alexander Maconochie Centre unofficially goes the extra mile on conjugal visits, with reports of male inmates penetrating the wall between them and the girls since 2017. An internal probe found a male prisoner had jumped into the women’s section in April and attempted to have sex with a female inmate but the action was scuttled after male prisoners watching became overly excited.

THE ABC journalist reporting snow blocking the Hume Highway at Goulburn didn’t put much thought into his piece to camera after Tuesday’s unseasonal weather event. The young man confidently told his audience the “spring dump caused truckies to be severely backed up”!

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‘GREASE’ IS THE WORD WHEN IT COMES TO CAUSES

SINGING superstar Olivia Newton-John and more than a 100 Falun Gong practitioners separately visited Canberra.

Newton-John was in town to lobby the Turnbull government for more funding for cancer research while the yellow-jacketed adherents to Falun Dafa wanted to highlight the widespread practice of human organ harvesting in China.

The “Grease” star was warmly welcomed into the Turnbull inner sanctum and felt the love of starstruck Senators Hinch and Hanson. But after two days of getting physical on the lawns of Parliament House, the Falun Gong had to settle for a quick word from a little-known Greens senator. I guess it’s a case of horses for causes.

STILL on Senator Hanson and it’s safe to speculate that her Senate-stopping burqa stunt may have forced an upgrade of her personal security back to that of 1997.

In her 2007 autobiography “Untamed and Unashamed” the One Nation leader recalls “the intrusion” of being shadowed by two or three AFP officers from the moment she stepped from a flight at Canberra airport. Senator Hanson wrote: “I was told by the AFP that the threat against me was higher than against any other politician, including the then PM John Howard”.

WHETHER ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seseljavolunteered or drew the short straw to appear on “Q&A” is unknown. The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs would have known he was the Christian being fed to the lions on the Monday night panel show. The conservative senator was strategically positioned between philosopher AC Grayling and Israeli politician Merav Michaeli – both of whom believe traditional marriage is sexist and should not exist in its current form. The father of five acquitted himself well despite being booed by audience members for his intention to vote no in the SSM postal survey.

MEANTIME, some same-sex couples in Canberra claim to be just plain weary from the debate. One woman who has been in a same-sex relationship for 30 years says she is simply “exhausted” and “exasperated”. Worn down by the relentless pressure of being the focus of attention, she says: “The issue is sucking the oxygen out of the room as it’s the only thing people are talking about”. And she is exasperated by the negative comments of the National Party leadership and the non-binding element of the survey outcome.

CANBERRA’S Crows’ supporters are in a state of excitement. A healthy and well established Adelaide Crows AFL supporters group – consisting of between 50 and 70 mostly ex-pats – has been gathering at each other’s homes to watch the Crows’ games. The group even has its own Facebook page, CrowACTive. The pride of SA in Friday’s preliminary final and warm favourites to win their first flag since 1999 – the year the Canberra support group formed.

ICONIC Civic cafe Gus’ has sprung back into life and, if the long queues on opening day were any indication, Canberrans certainly missed the Bunda Street establishment. Famous for being at the vanguard of al fresco dining in the 1960s, the revamped Gus’s Place has given Garema Place the nostalgic touch it is sadly losing.

WHILE the coffee house’s refurbishment was popular, construction at another iconic Canberra location has been broadly criticised. Within hours of the first metal panel of a new security fence on the lawns of Parliament House being set in concrete, criticism began to flow on social media with veteran press gallery writer Michelle Grattan tweeting “it’s appalling”. The 2.6-metre grilled fence is the centrepiece of an estimated $126 million security upgrade for Parliament House.

TWO large, handwritten banners on a house on Belconnen Way at Page are confusing some passersby. Seemingly set for demolition or a major renovation, the property bears two signs which boldly claim: “NOT A FLUFFY”. Is the owner/builder making a political statement on the controversial ’80s insulation or simply maintaining the real estate value of the surrounding area already dotted with Fluffy houses?

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.

COMFY BEDFELLOWS, LOST APOSTROPHES AND SPUDS

BY MIKE WELSH from CANBERRA CITY NEWS FEB 8

President Donald Trump’s dressing down of our PM provoked a couple of Canberra wireless talkers into questioning his business ethics.

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FM 104.7’s breakfast duo Ryan and Tanya wanted to know if Trump’s travel ban on refugees from certain Muslim countries carried over to his extensive business interests.

Ryan, posing as Osama, an Iranian student visiting Washington, rang the local Trump Hotel to book a room for he and his Iranian mates. “Not a problem Sir” said the accommodating man at the D.C. end. Clearly business and politics can be comfy bedfellows.

 

The Enlightened city is set for a heightened level of enlightenment this year according to CM Andrew Barr.

In launching the 7th annual Enlighten Festival this week, Mr Barr predicted it would “easily surpass” our most famous festival Floriade.

Barr’s bold claim was backed by Singapore Airlines coming on board as a sponsor. The airline’s representative and former Canberra boy Karl Schubert says Asian visitors were keen to take advantage of the Capital Express flights to see Canberra’s buildings “in a different light”.

Enlighten 2017 takes place around national buildings and the Parliamentary Triangle from March 3 to 12.

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A worrying trend (for pedants at least) seems to have spread across the Enlightened city…The IUOTA (inappropriate use of the apostrophe). This week I spotted a very green example at the Kippax Raiders’ club promoting the special meal deal “Coastal Combo’s“. Take Away food shops often advertise Fish N Chip’s and the growing number of people who automatically apply the IUOTA to that bygone era (when the apostrophe knew its place) the 50s, 60s and 70s… might suggest the old journalistic idiom of IF IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT has been flipped on its head. The new norm…whack it in to be sure. Is this acceptable for an enlightened city?

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Still on Fish N Chips and near catastrophe has befallen the local fryers. Unseasonal weather, battering potato crops in Southern states, has created a potato famine (of sorts) causing hardship for those partial to the thin slice of pomme de terre cooked in batter and called a Potato Scallop (in Tassie it’s a Potato Cake).

The thousands of Canberra connoisseurs of the Potato Scallop are reportedly “getting by” on the frozen but vastly inferior variety.

Might be unhelpful though to suggest they…“eat (Potato) cake instead”..

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Nice to see that abstract still makes the art grow fonder

One of Canberra’s most valuable assets is back home after a rare overseas visit.

Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, one of the world’s most recognisable pieces is safely back on the wall at the National Gallery after a trip to London.

And apparently the controversial painting, purchased by the Whitlam Government in 1973 for a ‘tad’ over $1mil was “missed”.

According to NGA’s senior curator of international art, Lucina Ward, “visitors expect to see it in Canberra… it is one of the National Gallery’s most famous paintings”.

Estimates of Blue Poles’ current worth vary widely between $20Mil and $350Mil.

Two men sitting in deck chairs on a traffic island during Monday’s peak hour viewing traffic flow through a large roundabout was indeed a rare sight. And one which runs the risk of compounding the belief in that ignorant national myth that there is nothing more exciting to do in Canberra than watch traffic.

Apparently the pair of local residents held grave safety fears after the installation of lights on the dangerous Barton Highway/William Slim Dr/Gundaroo Dr roundabout, but at last report, after a relatively smooth transition, had given it the thumbs up.

Sadly though for the reputation of the Capital the story went national.

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Marauding MAMILS (middle aged men in Lycra) and their attitude is an issue brewing to a head more powerful than an inexpertly tapped keg of the Braddon brew, and will explode soon if not approached in a cordial fashion.

The fair dinkum practitioners of the pedal in all their yellow/pink flexible splendour were targeted yet again last week in an article asking the question.. Why are Canberrans so unkind to cyclists?

Responses on social media, ranging from..”Canberrans are a loving, kindly people who delight in the social benefits of bike riding “….to..“I’m glad I have a Bullbar on my car” might suggest we have a long ride ahead.

 

Pauline Hanson is Almost BAAAAAACCCKKKKK

Mike Welsh

Pauline Hanson joined me on my Canberra drive-time radio program for two days in February 2012. At the time she was at a loose end and looking for a new career. She’d decided her political life was over.

The mere mention she was doing the 2CC Drive garnered media mentions across the nation .

MW and PaulineThe professional politician had hinted she’d like to have a crack at Talk Radio so I cheekily rang her and suggested I could assist in the process.

She readily agreed, and after quickly negotiating a surprisingly small fee Pauline Hanson confidently rocked up for her radio audition.

I first met her in Port Macquarie in late 1996 as she sensationally swept through her adoring heartland of disaffected voters.

I don’t know what it is but there is something about this plain speaking and barmaid-ishly attractive “ginger” from Queensland.

Right from the start Pauline Hanson posed such a threat to the status quo of Australian politics, that a skilled political head kicker by the name of Anthony Abbott, was dispatched north to “bring to an end” the noise PM John Howard had heard and recognised as a serious danger to his newly minted government. Mission accomplished. Hanson went to prison.

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A slowish fast-forward to the political bunfight of today, with the political fortunes of the head-kicker Abbott now hanging by threads, while Pauline Hanson, after a period out of the elected representative scene is hanging in for another shot at politics in the state parliament of her native Queensland after resurrecting her One Nation party.

 

I’ve got Pauline on my mind

By Mike Welsh…..

I’ve been thinking of Pauline Hanson lately. Wondering if she’s gone for good this time or just catching her breath. When I have Pauline Hanson on my mind I also have the Easybeats on my mind. Please Explain, you ask!!!

There have been only two occasions on which I felt I even remotely close to being crushed to death by a crowd of excited and irrational people.

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The first time was in 1965 in my hometown of Launceston, Tasmania.  Two friends and I made the rookie mistake of loitering (unwittingly) inside the same record bar, as the hottest pop band in the country was conducting an “in-store”.

It all happened in the blink of an eye.  One second we were standing at the back of the store in front of a makeshift stage which had magically filled with five skinny, longhaired blokes, three of whom were called George, Dick and Harry, all wearing a variety of purple velvet flares and floral Ben Casey shirts, distracting us from the marauding hordes of screaming 12-14 year-old females who had entered the small Allen’s Music store and were flooding forward. The next we knew we were being hauled bodily onto the stage by ‘security’, which in 1965 was Kevin, Allen’s Hammond organ teacher and the lead singer of the band, “Little Stevie Wright. Seems those silly schoolgirls (some of whom would be grandmothers by now) showed scant respect for three nerdy schoolboys in green caps and grey blazers and were clearly prepared to trample us in their quest to reach their idols, the aforementioned lead singer and hero of the day, in particular.

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The second “near crushed to death” experience came almost 30 years later, at the Port Macquarie Town Hall.

The political pop-star of the time, Pauline Hanson, was in town as a guest of the local branch of her burgeoning political party, One Nation.

Ms Hanson had already proven a security nightmare for organisers (security being a tad more sophisticated by the mid-1990s) at rallies around Australia, but this was a hard-core ‘Pauline’ crowd.  A good percentage of the retirement village’s retired population jammed into the Town Hall to hear what the woman who ‘spoke their language’ had to say.

Covering the event as a journalist, I’d barely stepped into the foyer before being targeted by locals who believed the media had given the country’s most famous fish n chip shop owner a tough time and felt the need to ‘jostle’ our small and startled media pack. Ordinarily my beat didn’t involve pensioner pushing and shoving but on this day it surprisingly morphed into something potentially more dangerous.

While law and order in the normally peaceful and civilised tourist town was quickly unravelling at the front of the building, Ms Hanson was having problems getting past a small mob of protestors which had invaded the stage door (if only Kevin  and ‘Little’ Stevie had been on ‘bouncing’ duties that day).

Meanwhile back in the foyer, things got a bit ‘too close for comfort’ and police gathered up the media party and Ms Hanson and shoved us all through a back door to the safety of back stage.

When Pauline Hanson came to Canberra in 2012 to appear on my radio program, one thing was crystal clear; she was still extremely popular with the punters for her ‘straight talking’ approach.

The mere mention of “Pauline’s talkback radio tryout” resulted in stories in newspapers from Perth to Sydney and a mention on scores of national radio and TV programs.

I haven’t spoken to Pauline since just prior to last year’s Federal election but I’ll wager we have not heard the last of her.  Australia will never forget Pauline Hanson, and I think it’s near impossible for her to lay low for too long either.

The Easybeats haven’t made an in-store for a while.