Seven Days / Labor prescribes tablets for poll uncertainty

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VOTE buying? Not us, demurred Chief Minister Andrew Barr, clearly channelling Kevin Rudd’s desperate laptops-for-little-people, in announcing a Labor re-election incentive of giving every public high school and college student in the ACT a tablet device.

Ian Meikle.
Ian Meikle.

Hot from his week of health largesse, topping out at a jaw-dropping $700 million of promises, Barr was on the education trail doling out the tablets in a pledge that will cost ratepayers $17.2 million (or, allowing for school holidays, $107,500 a week) over four years.

SHANE Rattenbury’s halo slipped a little with the uncomfortable revelation (a good get by “The Canberra Times”) that the Greens Leader owns two negatively geared investment properties, one of which sits on the light rail corridor.

Last year he bought into the Mayfair complex in Civic and the Astin Apartments, on the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Ipima Street,  Braddon.

The ACT cabinet minister says he has properly declared details of the investments, the purchases presented no direct conflicts of interest and were made on information already publicly available.

SUCH is my sheltered life, it took the head of the Australia Defence Association, Neil James, to reveal a (new, to me) longstanding Westminster tradition that “to keep the gun out of politics, you’ve got to keep politics out of the gun”.

He was commenting on Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson’s reprising his East Timor peacekeeping days (2000) and training time in Iraq (2007) in ACT election advertising featuring happy snaps of dashing Lt-Col Hanson in army fatigues.

James said the key issue was whether the public could misconstrue political advertising as the military’s endorsement of a candidate.

ACT Liberal campaign director Daniel Clode was less tactful, saying of his fearless leader: “He’s not like one of these juvenile, ex-student-politician, ACT hacks who has no real life experience.” Can’t imagine who he’s thinking of.

POLITICAL veteran Richard Farmer has popped the Kettle on to his Canberra Community Voters party’s five-strong, full ticket in targetted Ginninderra. Former Goulburn mayor and latter-day Canberran Geoff Kettle has come from nowhere as CCV’s lead candidate in the cluttered field for the Belconnen electorate where, Farmer told me, he thinks his pro-club party had a “better-than-sporting chance” of wresting the fifth seat from vulnerable Labor.  

DEPUTY Opposition Leader Alistair Coe says the Liberals will ditch Labor’s on-again-off-again City-to-the-Lake extravagance to focus on revitalising the CBD and possibly bringing cars back through the “ghost town” that is City Walk and Garema Place.

He thinks Civic is stretched by developments to its north, east and west, and City-to-the-Lake takes the city too far south.

He also wants to clip the wings of the omnipresent Land Development Agency, itself the subject of two pre-election inquiries.   

THE fireys say they do, the bosses say they don’t and the Libs say they’ll get one. In a sop to the Firefighters Union, shadow emergency services minister Giulia Jones is promising, post election, a second Bronto aerial firefighting platform even though ACT Emergency Services Commissioner Dominic Lane couldn’t be any blunter: “Myself and the chief officer of ACT Fire and Rescue Mark Brown have been very clear before. We don’t need a second Bronto”. They really don’t want it, Giulia. Save the money and think of something awesome to promise public school kids. A new iPhone 7?

AND, apparently unrelated to the election campaign, is the news that gastroenteritis is running amok and outstripping the usual seasonal burst of influenza in Canberra. ACT emergency departments have seen 809 cases, nearly twice last year’s number.

Regular columnist Robert Macklin is on leave.


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Ian Meikle
Ian Meikle is the owner and editor of "CityNews".

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