Welsh / Barr rolls up Shane’s pill-testing welcome mat

Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH looks at another week in the life of the national capital.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury’s brash invitation to a controversial dance music festival to pitch its tent in the capital, without consulting his colleagues, has been swiftly scuttled.

Mike Welsh

Mike Welsh.

The Greens’ spokesperson on drugs policy argued a ban by the NSW government of the hardcore Defqon.1 festival – where two people died of overdoses in September – is an “economic opportunity” that could bring “life to the city”. Chief Minister Andrew Barr says while his government supports pill testing it would not use the sentiment to “attract events to Canberra”.

MEANWHILE, a pill-testing rally in Garema Place, organised by the newly formed Smashed Avocado Movement and the Reason Party (formerly the Sex Party), failed to attract the anticipated thousands of supporters. The SAM has among its myriad of philosophical objectives, “to reduce apathy and promote engagement within communities around progressive values, issues and solutions”. A gathering of about 60 heard of the grief families suffered after losing a member to a drug overdose.

Another day in Garema Place… near-naked women splattered with “blood” lying in human meat trays. Photo by Mike Welsh

UNAWARE of the pill-testing demo another group of activists, keen to shock the public out of its apathy, set up nearby. The Anti-Speciesist Action Collective staged what it called a “surreal and powerful” demonstration featuring five near-naked young women splattered with “blood” lying in human meat trays. Participants urged passersby to “recognise the animals on their plates as living, breathing individuals”.

AS the war of words raged around the issue of advertising on the Opera House sails, the Aussie sense of humour quickly kicked in online with waves of memes ridiculing the issue. Suggestions included a raft of large, white, iconic spaces that could also be utilised as advertising mediums, but Kate Auty’s tweet cleverly ticked all of the culturally inappropriate boxes…“How about #SummerNats advertised on the #WarMemorial?”

Commemorating the centenary of the 1918 Armistice… a lush field of poppies has sprung up at the Australian War Memorial. Photo by Mike Welsh

STILL at the AWM, and to commemorate the centenary of the 1918 Armistice a lush field of poppies has sprung up on the Western grounds, drawing large numbers of visitors. The brilliant display featuring 62,000 handmade red poppies representing Australian lives lost in World War I, is the work of award-winning landscape designer Phillip Johnson.

THE normally uneventful precinct at the city end of Constitution Avenue was rudely interrupted just before lunch by a squadron of AFP officers invading number 2, the Canberra home of the Australian Border Force. The raid was linked to leaked information that sparked the au pair saga and exposed dealings between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and AFL supremo Gil McLachlan. An investigation is reportedly ongoing, however any official direction on the correct or acceptable pronunciation of a French babysitter is unlikely. Either “O” or “OR” is okay.

LOCALLY based construction giant Geocon is not only playing in the major league but also bringing class and attitude to some “beige” Canberra precincts. The property developer, established by Canberra born and raised Nick Georgalis in 2007 with just six workers, is now number four nationally despite the company’s projects being based in the local region. The developer also deserves recognition for the creative branding of its, by Canberra standards, skyscrapers. Rising from the rubble of the unsophisticated ABC (Allawah, Bega, Currong) flats in Civic is the aspirational Metropol and the naughty and after-darkish Tryst. Out in the Belco precinct, the Republic, High Society and Dusk make up the fashionable skyline. The Woden precinct is in for sleepless Big-Apple nights when the Grand Central is completed and out at the Gungahlin precinct, limitless possibilities are on offer with Infinity.

An acceptable piece of public art? Photo by Mike Welsh

FINALLY an acceptable piece of public art. Possibly to reflect the city’s seemingly permanent “under-construction” status and associated kilometres of temporary safety bordering and fencing, a “pop-up” stack of colourful WFBs (water filled barriers) has been unveiled on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin near the High Court. The plastic faux granite work may be among the first piece of recent public art not bagged by local punters.

 

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