No soup for you, as cafes and clubs go begging

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The “Seinfeld” Soup Nazi character’s fastidiousness looms large in Mitchell.

Local cafes and clubs deserve to be trusted with putting a bit more food on the tables, says “SevenDays” columnist IAN MEIKLE.  

WHEN Chief Warder Andrew Barr parsimoniously eased the community’s parole conditions there was one group I felt especially sorry for. 

Ian Meikle.

Make no mistake, the Chief Minister has a lot on his plate, but banging on about how we’ve been treated like adults and still keeping clubs and cafes on a tight leash looks like an oppression of caution.

Virtuously, he is taking the advice of Chief Medical Officer Kerryn Coleman and that has served us well. But with the ACT’s nation-leading response to confronting COVID-19, one wonders why the crushed cafes and clubs, unlike NSW, aren’t given a fairer go. 

“It’s time for the Chief Health Officer to explain why the small and family businesses in our hospitality industry can’t be treated the same way as the busy-as-ever Coles, Bunnings, IKEA and Westfield,” bemoaned Anthony Brierley, GM of the ACT’s Australian Hotels Association in the daily chip wrapper. 

“It’s time it is explained why having a meal in Bondi is safer than having a meal in Civic. Or, for that matter, why Queanbeyan is safer than Kingston, Googong safer than Calwell, and Sutton safer than Hall.”

Local cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs are now enmeshed in what our 47-year-old hipster-in-chief described as a “scalable framework” allowing up to 20 people in each enclosed space whereas, across the border, NSW has already sanctioned 50 patrons. We will have to wait until midnight, June 19, to be given that latitude. 

“We complied and played our part. But this shutdown has devastated the ACT’s hospitality industry for the past two months. One third of our directly-employed 14,800 jobs have disappeared. The remaining 9900 jobs only exist because of the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper program,” says Brierley. 

“Our industry is on its knees.” And he has a point. The hospitality industry, reduced to living off takeaways, has been scrupulous in dealing with the threat of coronavirus. A visit to my patisserie of choice in unloved Mitchell is like being in the “Seinfeld” classic “Soup Nazi” episode. They are fastidious and deserve to be trusted with putting a bit more food on the tables. 

THE Bureau of Meteorology’s “2020 Winter Outlook” says that most areas of mainland Australia are showing a better than 70 per cent chance of having a wetter than average winter and that includes the ACT. Better still – if you’re homeless, at least – overnight temperatures are likely to be warmer than average. 

CANBERRA Liberals police and emergency services spokesperson Giulia Jones has been extolling the virtues of cycling without sharing the news that she’d lost her driver’s licence for three months for multiple low-range speeding offences.

She now has her licence back, but says: “After three months of getting around on my bicycle, it’s given me some additional perspective and I’m looking forward to starting a-fresh.”

Unsurprisingly, ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury, in calling for her resignation from her portfolio position, sniffed: “Given the impact road trauma has on police and emergency services, it is not credible for Ms Jones to retain the portfolio given her track record.”

THERE’S a changing of the baton at the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. As predicted by “CityNews” smarty pants arts editor Helen Musa on May 13, conductor Jessica Cottis will take over the waving from chief conductor and artistic director Nick Milton when he finishes at the end of this year after 15 years with the CSO.

THE Australian National University is facing a $225 million coronavirus walloping this year, with vice-chancellor Prof Brian Schmidt calling the figure a “sensible prediction” and tipping 20 per cent of his salary into the black hole and 10 per cent of his senior staff.

He says the ANU will earn about $150 million less than expected in 2020 and would “spend about $75 million more than we planned due to the crises we have endured this year”. The border closures and subsequent loss of international students has hit university finances hard.

AND a final definitive word from the Chief Minister at a media briefing, ostensibly about COVID-19: “Every day does seem longer than would be the case normally and a number of us have felt this 2020 leap year not only had an extra day in February, but it feels like an extra 30 days in March, an extra 60 days in April.

“Here we are towards the end of May and it feels like it’s been a very long year, but we are taking steps every three weeks here so there’s not a massive amount of room to accelerate so people should have no expectation that I’ll be standing up again here tomorrow or next week and announce bringing forward things that are scheduled by July. That’s not going to happen.” Me neither. 










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Ian Meikle
Ian Meikle is the owner and editor of "CityNews".


  1. Surely the Shane Rattenbury calling for the resignation of the shadow minister for emergency services because she was picked up for a traffic offence is not the Shane Rattenbury, Minister for Justice and Corrective Services who last year confessed to the possession and use of narcotics. MDMA I think it was. While I understand that that particular Shane believes that since he was at the time young and silly and that it was right that he not be prosecuted, I cannot believe that he would apply to another politician a different standard than he would apply to himself.

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