What's the difference between an unplugged poker machine and the ACT Liberals? Nothing, they're both powerless and captives of the government... it's "Seven Days" with IAN MEIKLE.

SOME ACT health priorities seem to be morphing into political ones, so it's hard not to feel some sympathy for the community clubs battling weekly losses and frustrated by the necessary capacity constraints. 

Ian Meikle.

The direct health risk of pressing a gaming machine button has never been properly explained, but months on the pokies remain silent and powerlessly awaiting a restart day. 

While they wait, an Access Canberra officer has been unhelpfully visiting venues providing advice that, in calculating the allowable number of patrons on a gaming floor (the four-square-metre rule), the space the gaming machines occupy must be subtracted from the available space.

I say unhelpfully because the Safe Work Australia guidelines prescribe the exact opposite; that retail stores (ie a shopping centre, retail store or supermarket) deduct the room taken up by fixtures and fittings and hospitality venues calculate customer numbers on the total space. 

CHIEF Minister Andrew Barr is called all sorts of things but "Big Brother" is a new one to me. Liberal shadow housing minister Mark Parton, in an attention-seeking moment, let fly with a breathless media release headed "Big Brother Barr is watching: Soviet style cameras line public housing residences". 

It's good to see the warm-and-cuddly Libs caring so much about the welfare of public-housing tenants. 

"Bright red and yellow, four metres tall and wrapped in barbed wire; these are the Soviet-styled CCTV cameras recently installed in public housing complexes in the inner north," growls Parto. 

Then a little over-egging: “While the rest of Australia is wary that elements of the Red Army might be watching us, it seems the Barr government may have provided the cameras."

Then the denouement: “Nobody has a clue what Big Brother Barr’s surveillance experiment is about because just as soon as the cameras were up, they have quickly been removed."

Then the realisation: it doesn't amount to much. 

AS a large rump of eminent Australians decry lavishing the Kerry Stokes-chaired National War Memorial with a $500 million refurbishment, the (son) Ryan Stokes-chaired National Gallery of Australia is crying poor and slashing 10 per cent of its 300 staff in the face of a funding shortfall.

Galley director Nick Mitzevich says straight-faced the timing was unfortunate, but the cuts were not COVID-related, they were the result of several months of discussions on how to cut back. 

Meet Maverick, a cute four-year-old miniature horse who, in more normal times, visits nursing homes and hospitals for pet therapy.
Maverick has a big fan in 81-year-old Henry Pearce, a resident at Uniting Mirinjani, Weston, who used to lead the horse around the aged-care facility. 
Jo Sumner, Uniting Mirinjani’s leisure and wellness co-ordinator, says Henry's “a bit of a loner” and doesn’t have any family, but he’d come out of his room for Maverick’s visits. 
Since COVID-19 has prevented visits or making a trip to see Maverick at home in Bungendore impossible, residents stay connected through a weekly 45-minute “walk” around the farm via FaceTime.

GIVEN the National Party doesn't raise its rural head in the ACT, it's hard to believe the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (ACT) would have much going for it despite applying to the ACT electoral commissioner to register as a political party for the October election. While the objections deadline is July 7, indifference will be the party's biggest challenge. 

SENATOR  Zed Seselja's office pops out a next-day press conference alert to announce the $12 million go ahead for the Mitchell tram stop and lists ACT Transport Minister as Chris Steele. Ooops. By morning, Mr Steel had lost the third "e" and the tummy rubbing went ahead.

IN a bit of campaign tin rattling to the faithful, ACT Opposition Leader Alistair Coe describes the October election as "one of the most important in a decade". He says it will have a lasting impact on the future of Canberra for generations to come. Not having seen too many policies from anyone yet, apart from a million trees from the Libs, I'm not sure how he arrives at this dramatic consequence. 

But here's the juicy bit: "The Liberal Party’s internal research shows that this election is extremely close. Just a few hundred votes in two key seats will determine the outcome at this election."

He doesn't say which ones, but he does say $100 buys them a 30-second radio ad and $250 gets a television ad.

"I WAS concerned to see your reviewer of Patrick Mullins' book about the 'Portnoy' trials make a serious spelling error in last week's edition," sniffed a reader from distant climes pointing out we "rendered the word 'masturbation' with an 'e' and not a 'u'". 

Then, with a withering flourish, came: "I could be unkind and suggest that a publication serving a city full of alleged wankers should get that word right." Point taken. 

Ian Meikle is the "CityNews" editor. He can be heard on the "CityNews Sunday Roast" news and current affairs program, 10am-noon on 2CC.


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Ian Meikle, editor