Canberra Confidential: For whom the road tolls?

WE know she was kidding, but at the opening (or is it closing?) of the Centenary time capsule and monument on City Hill the other day, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told the assembled: “[City Hill] is a lovely, lovely park and one of the wishes I hope comes true from having the Centenary Column and the time capsule here is that more people take their life in their hands and cross the road and come and enjoy this park.”

Accelerating cars on Vernon Circle pass the Centenary Column, just metres from the road.

Accelerating cars on Vernon Circle pass the Centenary Column, just metres from the road.

CC, which has no claim to understanding the dark arts of municipal planning, can’t help but think the siting of the Centenary middle-finger salute one of the town’s oddest, sitting adjacent to a busy Vernon Circle where accelerating vehicles whiz by barely metres away.

“In the future,” Katy opined, “there will be much better pedestrian access to City Hill so it won’t be quite as frightening to get across.” Hopefully, it comes before some curious child is skittled. Guard rails now, please, Chief Minister.

Pilger deleted

NO audio has yet been posted – nor seems likely to be – on the ABC 666 website of the fiery interview with crusading journalist John Pilger on March 6, an unhappy encounter morning host Genevieve Jacobs tactfully describes as a “train wreck”.

Jacobs, “with open, good intentions”, phoned Pilger seeking his reaction to Australian of the Year Adam Goodes’ suggestion that Pilger’s new film about Aboriginal living conditions, “Utopia”, should be “required viewing for every Australian”.

On air, Pilger wanted to know from Jacobs whether she had seen “Utopia” and, if not, how could she possibly conduct a proper interview with him?

Genevieve Jacobs.

Genevieve Jacobs.

“Many of our listeners have a strong interest in indigenous issues – I am part of the local ABC indigenous working group myself.

“But from almost the start of the interview, Mr Pilger spoke over the top of me constantly, was patronising, arrogant and dismissive – for no apparent reason I could discern, other than I had actual questions to ask him.

“He relentlessly questioned me about whether I’d seen the film, and I did defend myself by saying I hadn’t had access to the film and the decision on the story had been made that morning – as he very well knew, because the call had been made directly to him.

“The listeners were horrified – there was a deluge of texts from people who said how spectacular it was to watch him shooting himself in both feet at the same time, completely and wilfully misunderstanding the point of the interview.

John Pilger.

John Pilger.

One listener rang in tears, another sent me flowers from her own garden the next day.

“I’ve had several emails and requests from him subsequently, asking why the story isn’t online and trying to needle me into a response, telling me he’ll be using the interview in his international lectures. I’ve deleted them.

“It was quite a salutary experience, and one I won’t be repeating.”

 Wrestling with rubbish

READER David Bird, of Mulligans Flat, is fed up. He recently helped out in the Clean Up Australia Day and says his local road near Mulligans Flat Reserve was “perfect”.

DSCF2679Two days later, a resident from Forde (stupid enough to leave id in the rubbish!) dumped garbage there.

“We are continuously cleaning up after such illegal dumping activities – burnt out cars as well – and it seems incongruous with the activities to preserve Mulligans Flat,” bemoans Dave, who also worries about the impact these cross-border dumpings are having on nearby NSW residents.

Little crowd appeal

FAMED Sydney director Rodney Fisher must be wondering what he’s walked into with the crowd funding for the imminent musical “Winging my Way to the Top” securing only $4311 of its $30,000 target.

The show, which has been awarded funding from artsACT ($34,452) and a CAPO grant of $4000 for set design, seems only to have about $43,000 of the $120,000 originally mooted to mount it at The Q, Queanbeyan, May 8-17.

Local producers and performers Karen Strahan and Jill Walsh, who also wrote the book and libretto, describe the show as “just a little off Broadway”. A little off budget, too.

smashed window realmSmashing flight!

ONE of the fighter jets that roared around impressively over Lake Burley Griffin on the weekend must have been flying either too low or too fast, when it shattered a large glass ceiling panel at the Hotel Realm on Friday evening. One of the astonished guests, Lauren Richardson, snapped this photo with her phone.

Rewards for ramblers

HARRY and Kathleen Berg walk the walk and talk the walk. Founders of the the Canberra Two Day Walk in 1992, now known as the Canberra Walking Festival, they are to be honoured during the closing ceremony of this year’s festival on Sunday, March 30.

The restless ramblers are to become only the second and third Australians to be awarded the big-deal medal of the international IML Walking Association after completing 75 of the association’s walks in Australia and around the world, a list that includes Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, NZ, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the US.

The Canberra Walking Festival, March 28-30. More information at


CALL security… “I wanted to run out of the crowd at the lunch today and give the Chief Minister a big hug.” That’s the effect Katy Gallagher’s city Wi-Fi announcement had on Civic PR spinner David Pembroke.

TOO subtle for us, but it took a reader to point out “how appropriate that ‘CityNews’ gardening writer Cedric Bryant has ‘grapevine’ in his email address!”

simon corbellPOLITICAL spin? Attorney General Simon Corbell takes a ride on the wild side at the 40th birthday bash for the Civic merry go round.

Meanwhile CC hears that the multi-portfolio Simon was left seriously unhappy earlier this month when he found himself stuck outside the offices of one of the many directorates he oversees. Our insider says several staff members were left feeling guilty and more than a little embarrassed after not one of them managed to recognise their minister, who needed someone to escort him inside.

UP and coming young radio producer Sarah Bannerman is leaving 2CC in a couple of weeks to join radio legend Steve Price as his executive producer at Sydney’s 2GB. Bannerman initially worked with former drive show host Mike Welsh and more recently with his successor Luke Bona.

HAPPY Canberra Day… Wilson Parking, underneath Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton, was charging hourly rates instead of the public holiday flat rate. CC’s cinematic snout was charged (net of the Palace’s 50 per cent patronage discount) $6 when it should have been $2.50. Undeterred, she took on the might of the national car park company and via three interstate phone calls and two emails was rewarded with a couple of parking passes but no offer of a refund.

HERE’S one for the diary… Australasian Bat Night, to be held in Commonwealth Park’s Regatta Point, from 6pm, on Sunday, April 16, with a barbecue and bat walk. Apparently, bats get bad press and this is the one night of the year in which the curious and the scared witless can ask questions from bat experts and see the creatures in action. More information at



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