Macklin / Malcolm laps up a little wooing

“While the attacks were utterly tragic, they did serve to cut through the political flim-flam among the allies to bring a concerted response to the Syrian crisis,” writes Seven Days columnist ROBERT MACKLIN


Once dpi IT’S been travelling week with PM Malcolm Turnbull streaking across the zones to engage with the international leadership. And what a time to be doing it as ISIS struck another fearful blow at a “soft” target in the City of Lights.

But while the attacks were utterly tragic for the victims, they did serve to cut through the political flim-flam among the allies to bring a concerted response to the Syrian crisis. And the terrorist ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud got his just deserts in a hail of bullets from the French police.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin.

However, just as they tried to put the horror behind them, another outrage erupted in their former African colony of Mali.

MALCOLM was trailed by half the press gallery who revelled in the chance to record his triumphal progress. Barack Obama invited him to visit the White House in January and praised Australia’s “enormously helpful” efforts in the Middle East. Indeed, the President seemed to be actively courting the new boy on the block.

THE Americans were startled to discover that the NT Government had leased Darwin’s port to a Chinese company. The PM suggested they should have subscribed to the “NT News” as “there was certainly nothing secret” about the purely commercial deal.

The neocons saw all sorts of sinister oriental implications and Treasurer Scott Morrison banned the sale of a big cattle station to them. Happily, Trade Minister Andrew Robb called them cockeyed: “I’ve heard about selling Australia forever. I haven’t seen a farm leave the country yet.”

BY chance your columnist was also travelling in the US when the Paris tragedy struck. And after the initial shock it became part of the US Presidential Election campaign. We spent much of our time in Arkansas with the Hillary Clinton entourage. And while nothing is certain in politics, the former First Lady seems to have the Democratic nomination tied up; but on the Republican side confusion reigns. The “smart money” is on Marco Rubio, the young Florida senator, but no one really knows.

OUR journey took us to New Orleans, where the tram system threw a new light on Canberra’s light rail plans. The New Orleans’ population is 1.2 million but they need the big tourist influx to make the system profitable. Canberra commuters alone will not do the trick; it needs attractions such as, say, a relocated Floriade to boost ticket sales.

THE suggestion from US academic Mark Fenton that light rail could help counter our growing obesity problem really hit home. “If we can encourage people to walk or cycle to the tram we can begin to address an epidemic of inactivity,” he says. Mark should know – there are so many morbidly overweight people in America it’s a wonder it hasn’t sunk beneath the waves.

GOOD to see the quick $7 million response from Education Minister Joy Burch to the 50 recommendations arising from the report into special needs children in Canberra schools. Sad that she needed the “boy-in-the-cage” scandal to respond to years of pleas from teachers for classroom support.

FINALLY, sincere thanks to editor Ian Meikle for keeping the “Seven Days” fire brightly burning in our absence. Sooo good to be safely home!



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