Columnist MIKE WELSH takes Seven Days to share another week in Canberra.
IN 2011 then Minister for Children and Young People Joy Burch was accused by Bimberi Youth Justice Centre staff of putting her fingers in her ears and singing “la-la-la” at a meeting called to raise a host of serious issues. Burch denied the allegation.
Current minister Rachel Stephen-Smith seems to be in a state of denial over the corrections problem child. Initially reported as a “riot” at the facility, which saw seven staff hospitalised, the minister is now calling it a “major incident”.
IT’S official, Canberra is the current capital for car fires. A Canberra tow truck driver rang the nationally syndicated Dave Hughes radio show to complain about the high number of cars torched in Canberra. The towie said it’s heartbreaking for the owners and was happening at a “frightening rate”.
RECENTLY installed chevrons (spaced white markings on the roadway to curb tailgating) on Tuggeranong Parkway are taking some time to have the desired effect. On Friday, around 8.30am, the southbound lane was a carpark due to two simultaneous rear enders (one involving two vehicles, the other three) within 200 metres of each other.
I WAS asked by a woman outside the AIS on Thursday why flags were flying at half-mast. I told her it was probably in honour of the late Tim Fischer, who was to be farewelled with a state funeral in Albury later that day. We both agreed on the outstanding contribution Fischer had made to his country, but when I suggested an annual #putoutyourakubra day be gazetted in his memory she nearly choked, saying: “No, it’d just be hijacked by that lunatic Barnaby Joyce” and stormed off.
THE raconteur in the red bandana, Peter FitzSimons, made a big impact at the 2019 Canberra Writers Festival. Proving you don’t have to know a lot about something to have something to say about it, the author more than held his own in the panel discussion “Fair go, Sport”, which began as a debate on the religion and politics of sport and ended up a fascinating insight into the tribalism of Melbourne and AFL.
With panellists Sam Mostyn (first female AFL commissioner and St Kilda tragic), George Megalogenis (political journalist and lifelong Richmond follower), and moderator Greg Jericho (passionate Adelaide Crows fan), the former Wallaby appeared to be way out of his depth.
But FitzSimons almost brought the roof of the ANU’s Great Hall down with a colourful confession of his initial take on the code. In the late 1980s a confused FitzSimons wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald: “I’m not sure what AFL is, it looks like a combination of an upturned bowl of spaghetti and the fall of Saigon”.
CANBERRA’S newest suburb Whitlam, currently being carved out of the red clay of the Molonglo Valley, is proving a slight irritation for some with long political memories. The first sod at the 17th suburb to be named after a prime minister was turned in June. Despite more than four decades passing since EG Whitlam was controversially dispatched from office, the negative responses to the photo I posted on social media would suggest it’s time we finally moved on.
BAARROOKA Fa Lisbon ET is the 2019 National Alpaca Show supreme suri champion. But I don’t think he gives two hoots or whatever sound it is alpacas make. Lisbon hails from the Strathbogie Baarrooka Alpaca stud in Victoria and was one of 300 alpacas on show at the Australian Alpaca Association’s national show at Epic. Baarrooka stud master Julie Wilkinson dominated the titles taking home more prizes than she could count.
OVER two years on from his sister’s death from cancer, actor Samuel Johnson has reached his target of raising $10 million for cancer research. Canberra mother of two Connie Johnson died in 2017, days after receiving the medal of the Order of Australia from then Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove. The siblings founded the charity Love Your Sister and launched the Big Heart Project campaign in Canberra in May, 2017, with several million dollars of donated coins forming a heart at the Dickson netball court.