Welsh / Of trains and tantrums and very angry villagers

“I’m playing a dangerous game here, one Kyrgios tantrum from blowing up in my face, but might I suggest all Canberrans get behind ‘Our Nick’ before he hits #1,” writes columnist MIKE WELSH

VERY Fast Train speculation is now largely dismissed by a cynical public weary of decades of teasing, but interest in an RFT (relatively fast train) is picking up steam after a whistle stop visit to Canberra by Spanish company Talgo.

Mike Welsh

Mike Welsh.

Spokesman Guillermo Martinez says the train builder can shave two hours from the Canberra-Sydney trip with only minimal modification to existing infrastructure. With a price tag of $100 million and an “up-and-running-in-12-months” boast, what’s not to be excited about?

STILL on trains and it’s “last call” for those wishing to climb aboard, in a dignified fashion, the Nick Kyrgios bandwagon.

The world #16 has pledged to clean up his act and concentrate on tennis. Miss this rare opportunity and you’ll stand accused of shamelessly bandwagon scrambling later on when the Canberran is the toast of the tennis world.

I’m playing a dangerous game here, one tantrum from blowing up in my face at any minute, but might I humbly suggest all Canberrans get behind “Our Nick” before he hits #1.

US Davis Cup skipper Jim Courier says Kyrgios is “playing some of his best tennis on tour”. And the ATP site raved over Kyrgios’ ”aggression, raw power and captivating shot making” against Roger Federer at the recent Miami Open. All aboard.

RECENTLY refined anti-discrimination laws in the ACT could soon come under closer scrutiny especially in the area of real estate.

It is now illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of refugee status, physical appearance and an irrelevant criminal record. It is also now illegal for a shop owner to evict a homeless person. But how much protection does the homeless person applying for rental properties have, given it is now against the law for real estate agents to discriminate against them? Recent reports of up to 30 people applying to rent one property give little hope to a person with a scant housing record.

FOR a city uncluttered with fences and hedges there sure seems to be an obsession with erecting signs banning all manner of activity in the most inappropriate places.

A sign proclaiming a ban on smoking within 10 metres of a set of swings at a Higgins park (and at others, I suspect) has just appeared. Is an ugly steel post standing in concrete three metres from a set of swings in a very large and, sadly, often deserted public facility, warranted? Should not a more concentrated focus be applied to the second-hand, smoke-filled haze around the 30-metre radius outside office buildings in nearby Belconnen?

THE pejorative slight NIMBY (not in my backyard) is under threat of redundancy in the city where it is often worn with pride. If the fears of good folk of the “aspirational” inner-south suburb of Forrest are realised, the B and the Y will be eliminated, emasculating the barb completely. The Forrest residents’ group claims their patch of privileged turf is being “Gungahlin-ised” – code for tiny or no backyards. Major developments, including a seven-storey hotel green-lighted for the old Italo-Australian Club site in Franklin Street, threaten to truncate backyards to the unthinkable dimensions allotted to those poor sods in Gungahlin.

MEANWHILE, the government is bracing for a backlash from groups of angry villagers following details of plans to roll out new public housing townhouses across five southern suburbs. Holder residents are irate over a lack of consultation surrounding a 30, two-bedroom, two-storey public housing development on their last piece of green open space.

AND a protest of a different nature looms at the ANU. Students opposed to a planned visit in June by former US national security chief James Clapper have posted an open letter on social media condemning vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt for “endorsing Clapper’s war-mongering views”.

An opinion piece in the student paper “Woroni” says Clapper has “utter contempt for privacy, free speech, human rights and the law”.


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