By Sophie Heizer
THOSE who indulge in the tiresome game of “Canberra Bashing” rarely rely on facts.
Case in point is columnist Miranda Devine’s recent rant in the “Tele” where she ignorantly describes a Canberra consisting of: “Smug, entitled public servants [living] high on the hog with taxpayer-funded massages, business-class travel, gentlemen’s hours, high-class restaurants, cafes on every corner and a furious resistance to Barnaby Joyce’s sensible idea of decentralising the Federal bureaucracy to repopulate dying country towns”.
Miranda’s only research appears to be a chat with a friend “who recently moved from Sydney to the Kingston Foreshore, where million-dollar-plus luxury apartments are springing up like topsy” and who says “she can’t believe how easy life is”. If Devine had taken the time to speak with just a few of the tens of thousands who don’t live high on the Canberra hog she wouldn’t have had such a nasty piece of clickbait to publish.
MEANWHILE, ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher is using strong language in a campaign against decentralisation, suggesting Liberal party founder and ardent supporter of Canberra as the nation’s capital, Sir Robert Menzies, “would be turning in his grave”.
The former ACT chief minister says: “It is either the beginning of one of the saddest chapters in Australian government history or a pathetic attempt to cloak the disaster of the relocation of the APVMA”.
A SENIOR US Republican with dexterous diplomacy skills is Canberra bound. Former presidential candidate Senator John McCain, who mocked President Donald Trump’s world view during a nine-minute speech in Munich in February without mentioning his name, is due in town next month.
The decorated war hero, down under for high-level security talks, “had words” with Trump after the new president’s terse phone hook up with PM Malcolm Turnbull. The senator will primarily cover Asia-Pacific issues, but given his recent form it’s inevitable he’ll drift off song and provide some entertainment at the expense of “the Donald”.
APPARENTLY we are punching above our weight in the seriously frivolous activity of the selfie. “Time” magazine ranked 459 cities in order of “selfiest” and Canberra came in as Australia’s #1 for 2016 and a respectable 169th on the global list. The Australian War Memorial is the top geotagged location for pics in Canberra with Lake Burley Griffin second.
“COMMUNITY consultation” is a catchphrase in the backpack of all politicians but one rarely exercised. Chief Minister Andrew Barr wants a citizens’ jury to assist government in forming policy on a diverse range of issues such as the desexing of pets and laws surrounding cyclists. Mr Barr is keen to adopt an SA model and has invited two experts from that state to Canberra to discuss what they call “deliberative democracy”. The experts, from Democracy Co and the SA Department of Premier and Cabinet, will speak at a city forum organised by former chief minister Jon Stanhope on Thursday.
THE citizens’ jury concept comes too late though for Canberrans to have a say in the naming of 13 tram stops along stage one of the light rail project. Transport minister Meegan Fitzharris unveiled the list of street and location names which she says follows the format of light rail systems in other parts of Australia and overseas. The minister dismissed suggestions the lack of public input was to avoid a repeat of last year’s “Boaty McBoatface” fiasco in the UK over public participation in naming a new research ship.
AFL Canberra’s season is just two rounds old but a long and humiliating season looms for at least one and possibly two clubs. In round one the Gungahlin Jets Div 2 team was obliterated by Eastlake, 39 goals to nothing. And, in a slightly less bruising season start, Belconnen kicked 23 goals 18 points to Tuggeranong Hawks’ 4 points. One of the league’s four guiding principles instituted in 2015 is “Competitive Balance”, which seeks to ensure “every team has every chance of winning”.