The stakes are getting high now the election’s done

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The tomato plants of Canberra have clarity and the real prospect of a productive future now the ACT election has ended. It’s “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE.

Ian Meikle.

AS candidates comb the highways and byways collecting their corflute signage under threat of fines, one hopes the wooden stakes will be restored to back gardens to ensure a certain future for at least tomato vines in Canberra.

Ironically, on the basis of the environment and landfill, the Greens demurred using the plastic-coated corflutes for publicising their faces and look where it got them – back into government with a firm hand down Andrew Barr’s (legislative) pants. 

At one point, given the snowballing estimate of Greens seats on election night, I was starting to worry if leader Shane Rattenbury was amassing enough new members to become the Leader of the Opposition! 

As is universally recorded, the election was a remarkable experience. The vote defied the predictions of being “very tight” and turned out to be quite decisive with The Greens clear winners, the Liberals the losers and Labor gratefully standing still while seats were moving right to left. 

The prospect of a cross bench of independents was again smashed, with Belco Party convenor (and former Liberal Opposition Leader and minister) Bill Stefaniak effectively announcing his return to retirement on 2CC’s morning-after “CityNews Sunday Roast”. His opportunistic stab at getting a seat in Ginninderra fell short and he was diffidently weathering Liberal disdain for, surprise surprise, distracting the Liberal struggle to hold two seats.

But it does raise the issue that it seems almost impossible under the Hare-Clark system for independents to get a look in. The last independents elected to the Assembly was 22 years ago. There were three of them – our political columnist Dr Michael John Moore AM, who served in the first four Assemblies (08/05/1989 – 21/10/2001), and footballer Paul Osbourne and his running mate, policeman Dave Rugendyke

While Belco Bill won’t be coming back, the best-performing independent candidate Fiona Carrick just might have another shot at banging her head against the Murrumbidgee wall. She didn’t commit on the radio program (four years is a long time), but admitted to having enjoyed the adrenalin of advocacy.

Alistair Coe boxing before the election knockout.

WAS the three-week pre-polling window too long? In the absence of too many meaningful policies to announce, the candidate challenge seemed just to stay out of trouble. 

The Liberal leader fatality decided to fill in the time amusing television crews that, not unreasonably, earned him the name of “stunt man” from Andrew Barr. We had Al with boxing gloves, a sledge hammer, making pies and something made of ice to illustrate freezing rates (I’d stopped looking by then). All faltering outings from the Boris Johnson UK Brexit campaign playbook. 

On 2CC, former minister, the aforementioned Michael Moore was unforgiving and said it goes to credible leadership. He built on the theme in his “CityNews” column this week saying: “The leadership of Alistair Coe has never been popular amongst Canberrans. He has failed to offer the sort of cut-through personality that we have seen from politicians such as Kate Carnell and Meegan Fitzharris.”

However, once unplugged from the constraints of his party’s narrow, disciplined and repetitive campaign, Coe gave the concession speech on Saturday night that was eloquent, kind and inclusive. It was the Alistair I know and like, but all too late for too many voters. 

Likewise, Andrew Barr gave a wonderful victory speech that was generous to his foes, kind to all candidates and grateful for another term. Was that humility on view? He seems a changed man since his wedding a year ago. Last week he even confessed to liking journalists? What’s next, older people? 

Chris Steel’s damp propaganda.

LAST week’s “CityNews”, rich in important information that exposed the Labor Party’s dirty polling tricks and Jon Stanhope’s exposure of the government’s tooth-and-nail resistance to keep suppressed secrets of the Canberra Hospital, was clearly an irritant to some people.

Hundreds of papers were removed from baskets in Civic and Woden in a cowardly attempt by some little people, we can only guess who, to stifle public consumption of a free, independent voice. 

However, some consolation from Tina Faulk, of Swinger Hill, who wrote to say that on the Saturday when Labor’s “improved bus timetables” came into force, “confusing and disrupting many, especially elderly bus passengers, it seemed positively karmic that a wad of flyers for Transport Minister Chris Steel should be left to rot, rain washed and dirty in a reserve near Markham Street, Mawson”.

She wondered if the person delegated to distribute them had missed the bus. That notwithstanding, Mr Steel enjoyed the top Labor spot in Murrumbidgee with the lion’s share of a quota all to himself. 

BUT the real loss of the week wasn’t Alistair Coe’s, it was the Canberra Raiders’, who were knocked out of the park and the finals series by the rampaging Melbourne Storm (30-10).

“The first 25 minutes that we had no footy, we didn’t defend well,” Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said at his one-answer, post-match press conference.

“Four tries to nil was really disappointing, because we were passive in defence. We didn’t start well, and it’s not us.

“I can handle the loss, I can understand the loss, but I’m just really disappointed we didn’t play to our… we didn’t have one of our better games tonight.”

Ricky has but one year to battle to the next Grand Final, the Libs have four or probably eight to get back into contention. 

Ian Meikle is the “CityNews” editor and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast”, 2CC, 9am-noon. 



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


  1. “Hundreds of papers were removed from baskets in Civic and Woden…” as well as Kippax. Locations with CCTVs that might identify culprits?

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