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Canberra Today 10°/15° | Saturday, September 25, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Just a party boy with a VIP invitation to nowhere 

Parties, remember them? IAN MEIKLE has an invitation to one, but it’s complicated. Here’s another “Seven Days”.

HEY, I got invited to a party. A private party. An opening VIP party and they were chasing my RSVP to be among the first to preview “60,000 square feet of original works of art, music and much more”.

Ian Meikle.

Here’s some more: “We’ll toast with sustainably sourced farm-to-cocktail beverages, and connect you with climate action causes that inspire.”

But now that the Chief Warder has extended our house arrest by another month (to Friday, October 15) and, jabbed or not, the Prime Warder won’t let us out of the country until at least November, there’s no going to the opening party for “Undercurrent” at 455 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York.

As Andrew Barr let the air out of our psychological tyres came the passing news that plonk purveyor Dan Murphy was recruiting 60 new people for Canberra. Not as a result of this announcement, but there again… 

The Chief Minister parried with the press deftly defending his “least worst option” lockdown decision, stepping over the business devastation, the extended schools closure and leaning heavily into the ACT’s stellar vaccination rates, blowing a double-vax kiss on the nose to the community for having more than 50 per cent of all people 12 and above fully vaccinated. 

But beyond giving the nod to golf and tennis, there’s precious little reprieve for (double-vaccinated) people stuck at home. The only new way to get out is to buy a house. Of all the things, in-person private inspections with an agent are now allowed. And people stuck at work can number five in the click-and-collect setting.

But back to my lost party. With all the heated national discussion about covid passes and civil rights to get into a bar or restaurant, this is how New York City’s doing it; the invitation says: “In order to ensure the best possible experience, we ask that you reserve your arrival time in advance. Per NYC’s recent COVID-19 mandate, you must present proof of vaccination for entry. Acceptable documentation includes NYS Excelsior Pass, NYC Covid Safe App, Physical CDC Vaccination Card, Physical NYC Vaccination Record.”

All this is ahead of us. 

President George W Bush, left, and Prime Minister John Howard at the presentation of the bell of the USS Canberra on September 10, 2001.

IN 1942 the “HMAS Canberra” was involved with the US Navy in a one-sided massacre by Japanese warships near the Solomon Islands, which cost the lives of 84 of its crew.

The “Canberra’s” officer of the watch was a 20-year-old, who survived the battle.

The ship was so damaged in the Battle of Savo Island the Americans scuttled it, then subsequently named one of its own ships after the “Canberra”, possibly the only one named after a non-American place. 

Okay, that’s the history. Here’s the twist.

Canberran Tom Anderson was working at the Australian embassy in Washington at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist air attack on the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center.

The day before, then-PM John Howard arrived in Washington for a ceremony at which President George W Bush was to present him with the bell of the (now scrapped) “USS Canberra”.

Tom was there and says at the end of the ceremony the President and the Prime Minister approached an old man sitting three rows in front of him. 

“It turned out that he was the same man who had been the officer of the watch,” he says.

So what was he to do next? The old guy said he was leaving Washington on American Airlines Flight 77 the next day, September 11. It was to be the hijacked flight terrorists crashed into the Pentagon.

“Our Defence colleagues told him that Mrs Howard was to plant a tree at the site of the only Australian buried in Arlington Cemetery the next day and he should also come along to that,” says Tom, of RAAF pilot Francis Milne, who died on a World War II while serving with a US aircrew on November 26, 1942. 

“So he changed his flight and the rest, as you say, is good fortune and history.” Truly saved by the bell.

A second “USS Canberra” was launched on June 5 this year. 

The last Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) in Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, 1933.

MORE than 200 hours of digital magic in Paris went into the National Film and Sound Archive’s newly released 80-second colourised footage of Benjamin, the last-known Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine).

Filmed in 1933 in Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, by Australian zoologist and naturalist David Fleay, the footage is the longest known surviving film of the extinct marsupial, and was brilliantly reimagined in colour by Frenchman Samuel François-Steininger.

Mr François-Steininger said it was very challenging to colourise. because, apart from original skins preserved in museums, sketches and paintings, there was a lack of original colour pictures or footage that could be used for research.

However, apropos of nothing, cameraman Fleay was bitten on the backside by Benjamin after shooting the film.

“TRY having PTSD and finding a psychologist or psychiatrist here in Canberra that specialises in the treatment,” laments Gregg Heldon, who’s had post-traumatic stress disorder for nine years. 

“You either wait at least six months for an appointment or you go interstate. And don’t bother ringing ACT Mental Health. I tried twice. Each time I was told they didn’t have a person on site that dealt with PTSD.

“I’ve learnt how little mental health support services there are in the ACT.”

Gregg has a friend in columnist Jon Stanhope who again this week visits the lamentable state of public mental health support in the ACT. 

“The cause or major reason for the ACT’s nation-worst performance in the delivery of mental health services across both the community and in acute settings is money,” he writes, blaming five years of $100 million a year cuts by the ACT government to the health budget. 

He also wonders if it is true that six mental health registrars resigned, en-masse, in the middle of last year in protest at their treatment and working conditions. 

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

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Ian Meikle, editor

Ian Meikle

Ian Meikle

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