Exposing the wrongs of rights for bullies

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Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH reviews the week that was. 

AMID the controversial political football that is the ACT inquiry into school violence, a frustrated father of a Catholic school fourth grader who attempted suicide took to social media for help and guidance. The parent was stunned by the hundreds of similarly heartbreaking stories the post attracted.

Mike Welsh.

Surely when a child is bullied to the extent that they hide a knife under the pillow and ask: “If I go to heaven, do I have a wish to come back?”, the rights and confidentiality of the bully must no longer be a wall behind which those in authority can cowardly and unconscionably stand behind.

FRESHLY gonged former ASIO director-general Dennis Richardson has given weight – for real Canberrans – to the origins of the cynical and political self-serving “Canberra bubble”. The one-time ASIO director-general, who was recognised with a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, says: “The Canberra bubble was created by the politicians who are elected right round the country who happen to spend 100 days or so a year in Canberra. They create the bubble, but it’s their way of avoiding accountability by referring to it.”

MEMBER for Monaro John Barilaro has become the poster boy of the nuclear-energy debate and wants it known that he’s no NIMBY when it comes to a nuclear power plant in his own patch, although such a facility is at least a decade down the track. Emboldened by an increased majority at the last NSW poll, the state National Party leader repeated his favourite nuclear quote: “This isn’t Homer Simpson driving the power plant”, to sell the point that “we’ve been stuck in a rut here, fixated on ideology rather than watching what’s happening across the globe”.

I SAT down to breakfast with Mike Pezzullo on Saturday. It was the end of a heavy week for the man whose day job is secretary of the Department of Home Affairs. But my guess, having been privy to another, deeper and more personal side to the veteran bureaucrat  – it was a week he’d more than adroitly take in his stride.

It was Pezzullo the private citizen who presented a short but illuminating (one of his favourite words) speech on religious freedoms and obligations to 60 Christian men at a Deakin cafe. If Pezzullo’s speech was outstanding, the longer Q&A session was brilliant. His speech was recorded and is downloadable at goodshepherdcurtin.org

FORMER ACT chief minister Kate Carnell also had a busy week commenting on a broad range of issues. So busy in fact she confused the gender of the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Appearing on the ABC TV’s “The Drum”, Carnell was asked her opinion on the Prime Minister’s prompt response on the issue of Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo “leaning” on Senator Rex Patrick.

Ms Carnell said: “I’m very pleased he got involved… because it was the appropriate approach for the PM to take to speak to the minister and for the minister to speak to the head of her department”.

DESPITE conceding defeat in his Senate campaign, former Canberra-based retired army major general Jim Molan has threatened to soldier on, promising to become an even bigger pain in the side of the NSW Liberal Party. Molan is now being touted as Australia’s most popular politician, scoring a record 132,000 first preference votes.

“Gentleman Jim” is keeping his options open, which he says “really means I’ll give it a go”, referring to the possibility of returning to the Senate via the possible casual vacancy created by a US-bound Arthur Sinodinos.

OLD Parliament House, where Bob Hawke served the first five of his almost nine years in office, hosted a public screening of the Labor legend’s state memorial service from Sydney Opera House.

Around 100 people gathered in the House of Representatives chamber, applauding only when Kim Beasley, Anthony Albanese and former union boss Bill Kelty spoke, but not after PM Scott Morrison’s contribution.


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Mike Welsh
Mike Welsh is a serial blogger and former Canberra radio presenter.

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