Gordon slips quietly back to government service

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A job for a fallen comrade, a Tibetan baby boom and the mystery of the missing Planning Directorate. It’s another “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE.

WE heard a whisper that former Attorney-General and Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay, whose one-term political career came to a crashing end in October, had quietly got a new job. In the Chief Minister’s office. 

Ian Meikle.

It’s been barely four months since the election that saw the former lawyer and minister of religion, sent packing by the voters of Ginninderra.

Not a great look for Labor, so news editor Danielle Nohra called Andrew Barr’s office. The media flack was all terribly surprised by the news, but invited email questions. 

Okay: six questions followed around what’s the job, what’s the pay, how was he selected? 

Gordon Ramsay… contracting to the Chief Minister’s office.

She eventually got a sheepish response that amounted to, yes, Gordon’s back on the government tit as a temporary contractor. A “staff member” but not a public servant in the Chief Minister’s office looking at, wait for it, “possible reforms to the human rights compatibility assessment process and the Anti-Discrimination Act,” apparently areas of focus for the government this term. 

Despite ex-minister Ramsay being a contractor, the salary question came with the news: “The ACT Executive does not disclose personal staff information, such as salary levels”. 

There is no suggestion of anything untoward on the part of Mr Ramsay, but the political optics of “jobs for the boys” aren’t pretty.

Fellow Labor flopsters, Deepak-Raj Gupta and Bec Cody, can but only wait for the phone to ring, too… “Is that you, Andrew? Hello…” 

There’s been a boom in Canberra’s Tibetan community, possibly the city’s smallest, with the birth of at least six babies during the year of COVID-19. Five of the blessed families were at the Tibetan Losar New Year 2148 celebration this month to offer prayers for the world to recover from the COVID-beleaguered Year of the Rat and welcome the Year of the Iron-Ox.
Pictured are four of the Tibetan baby boomers, from left, mum Decehb with 11-month-old boy Kalden, Norzin with three-month-old girl Tseten and three-year-old brother Junta, Ngawang Dechen with six-month-old Sangpo and Lhazom with 10-month-old Uma Lhamo.

THIS year’s multicultural festival has finally been covid kiboshed. No surprise there, except to the shadow minister for multicultural affairs Giulia Jones, who went on the warpath lambasting the government for not coming up with a “creative and safe alternative”. 

“Many multicultural communities will be disappointed and the opportunity to raise some much-needed money for small community groups has been lost,” she fruitlessly huffed. 

TIME to stop talking and start real action, Work Health and Safety Commissioner Jacqueline Agius. 

WorkSafe ACT swooped on Denman Prospect, the scene of two construction-site deaths last year, and again found that, well, nothing’s changed in the suburb’s building safety.

“We are continuing to see the same issues today at Denman Prospect as we did six months ago when we first started Operation Safe Prospect,” Ms Agius said.

“Some of the serious issues we saw today include the risk of falls from heights and unsafe scaffolding, as well as insecure fencing, a lack of site signage, poor housekeeping and a lack of basic facilities for workers.”

She followed up by issuing penalties to almost every site visited plus a couple of fines totalling $7200 and one building site closed.

THE cracked footpath misery continues to echo across Canberra, this time it’s from the south. A reader reckons there’s another “golden opportunity” for serious injury on the footpath in Anketell Street, Greenway.

“Just outside Aldi there are several paving stones uplifted, leaving holes and providing a great tripping zone,” he says.

“I’ve been expecting legal claims for injury during the two years or more that they have been in this state.”

The reader says people have tried to protect others by placing barricades such as shopping trolleys or plastic markers around, but they don’t last. 

Missing… the Planning Directorate is in 480 Northbourne, but they’re not telling anyone.

PLANNING and development columnist Paul Costigan is diligence itself when it comes to filing his pieces. They are always each accompanied by a photo.

Knowing that the Planning Directorate had moved from Dame Pattie Menzies House in Dickson to 480 Northbourne Avenue, and planning for a forthcoming piece, he set off one recent Saturday to update his image library with signage from the new HQ. 

But there was no sign of where the Planning Directorate was located.

There were signs for the Suburban Land Agency and for Access Canberra – and I could see through the glass to the main reception, but nothing to indicate that the planners have moved there,” he says.

“I went back to the former building (just across the road) to see if there were helpful signs to let people know where they had moved to… Nothing.

Are they now in a secret location? Or is it more simply that the planners, being the ACT Planning Directorate, had planned their move but forgot to organise any signage?”

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

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

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