Welsh / What happens in Canberra, happens in Canberra

A Canberra week with Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH

THE furnace of Canberra’s political sexual shenanigans has been stoked by author Helen Dale (aka Helen Demidenko of Miles Franklin infamy).

Mike Welsh

Mike Welsh.

Now based in London, the one-time adviser to Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm declared: “Politicians, staffers and reporters circle each other warily but also socialise, aided by alcohol and bonhomie.

“Wednesday evenings, when sittings are truncated and everyone’s diary fills with boozy events, have been known to generate more sex than Canberra’s brothels.”

CONSERVATIVE commentator Chris Kenny has also turned up the heat on the in-house hanky panky.

“The Australian’s” associate editor says because “journalists, politicians and advisers stroll the same corridors, eat at the same restaurants, drink at the same bars and even sometimes sleep in the same beds” they have lost sight of the special duty they have.

Given the tawdry Barnaby Joyce scandal, surely it’s just a matter of time before we all know what “everyone” in Canberra apparently already knows.

Joyce, the member for New England, has been cleared of travel expenses rorts by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.

An audit from mid 2016 until early 2018 found a “significant increase” in the amount of time Joyce spent in the capital, which the MP said was due to a wide portfolio spread. While Joyce pleads “it is time to move on”, it’s highly unlikely this is the last word on Barnaby’s “heavy workload.”

STILL on camping in the capital and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten may never be a Canberra resident, if an ancient political curse still applies. Shorten was seriously snubbed during by-election campaigning in Devonport with only 30 locals attending his working lunch on July 4.

On Melbourne Cup day 1984, then Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock, campaigning for a December 1 Federal poll, was similarly rejected by Devonport. A livid Peacock arrived 30 minutes late for an on-air chat on local radio after an awkward incident in the mall. No-one could be found who either recognised the “Kooyong Colt” or was prepared to pose for a photo. And the 7AD open lines remained deadly mute. Not one call for the man who was “heading for The Lodge”. Curse or coincidence?

ONE of Canberra’s most eccentric local media personalities has moved offshore for his next adventure. Jorian Gardner has landed in Bangkok, adding author to his colourful resume of radio/TV/print journalist, festival director and Sex Party political adviser.

Gardner advised Facebook friends that “it’s now time to write some new chapters just for myself. I will call the Kingdom of Thailand home for the next few months and from then on who knows”. Gardner has promised a book around this time next year.

THE former Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn Mark Coleridge says extending mandatory reporting of child abuse to the confessional is “premature and ill-advised.”

New laws passed in the ACT last month could see Canberra priests facing criminal charges for maintaining the seal of confession relating to sexual abuse.

Writing in the international Catholic news weekly, “The Tablet”, Coleridge, now Archbishop of Brisbane, explained that lawmakers “don’t understand the reality of what happens between priest and penitent in the sacrament”.

WHEN reams of top-secret documents spilled from an old filing cabinet purchased from a Canberra second-hand dealer earlier this year an antiquated filing system was exposed. In publishing some of the files, revealing Cabinet discussions on sensitive national security issues, the ABC reportedly exposed “one of the biggest breaches of Cabinet security in Australian history”.

Following an external review the department responsible for the embarrassing episode, Prime Minister and Cabinet, has adopted recommendations that include the “introduction of a program of ‘cultural change’ to embed a strong protective security culture in PM&C”.

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