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Canberra Today 16°/20° | Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Why time with old pouf will never be the same 

Goodbye to feet on the old pouf, a Nespresso and a couple of Digestives… goodbye lockdown. It’s “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE

ELEVENSES just aren’t the same now that the chiefs have abandoned the daily hour of doom and gloom.

Ian Meikle.

No more chief minister; affable, charming, supercilious and snarky. No more chief health officer; polite, friendly, earnest and eager to please. 

No more smartass social media commentary on the journos trying to do their job at the daily covid-update press conference. Or the insensitive speculation on how many cases today and the colour of the chief’s tie. 

Anyone fully employed, fully paid and working from home with their feet on the old pouf will miss one of the truly entertaining highlights of the last nine-week pandemic lockdown, the morning tea – a Nespresso and a couple of Digestives – with les miserables. Better than Netflix some days. 

For those from the private sector surviving off the disaster payment glumly sitting through the daily self-congratulatory shoutouts for (fully paid) public servants doing their jobs, it was confronting.

It’s interesting to watch the political survival instinct at play as the pollies start dodging the daily limelight. It’s a harbinger of bad news. 

And it’s coming. Chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman told us as much saying there will be more cases, but the totality of the numbers will become less important (tell that to troubled Victoria). 

As the case numbers inevitably soar, one hopes the hospital numbers will be manageable and the number of deaths negligible. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith seems to think the hospital system will manage.

But without the political spinners, the heavy lifting on those new normals will be done via faceless press release from ACT Health rather than the crowd-pleasing bully pulpit of the past nine, long weeks. 

THERE was an encore performance to allow the Chief Minister to justifiably crow about the ACT becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to reach 80 per cent of its 12+ population to be fully vaccinated.

The territory is well on its way to having close to 99 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by the end of November. Go, us!

Which, of course, nudged the government into opening the shops, all the shops, a week earlier than planned (a decision the Chief sniffed wasn’t entirely because people were shopping with impunity in Queanbeyan, but not here). 

What’s more, from October 29, hospitality venues such as cafes and restaurants can have one person per four square metres or, outdoors, one person per two square metres up to 300 people.

Business Minister Tara Cheyne… almost invisible.

But they’re luckier than, say, nightclub owners or newspaper publishers. They’ve got a new ACT government Outdoor Activation Taskforce, specially created to support restaurants, cafes and other businesses to utilise public outdoor spaces near their premises once the lockdown ends.

The almost invisible Business Minister Tara Cheyne, whose government has shamefully failed small business in Canberra, popped up to tell us: “The new taskforce will look for innovative ways to open up outdoor public space for venues, so that we can continue to help business to safely return to hosting customers.”


Master Builders CEO Michael Hopkins had the right idea: “The ACT government should allow businesses in any industry to continue to receive support payments if they are suffering a 30 per cent reduction in income as originally announced by the Chief Minister.”

AND while people in NSW wander the streets maskless, we’re still stuck with them indoors and out until October 29. No change there. 

MRS Mayor Nichole Overall, wife of the outgoing, (very) long-serving and highly regarded mayor of the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council Tim Overall, has stepped out of the shadows (I’m kidding) and into the political ring to box her way to claiming the NSW vacant state seat of Monaro. 

The impending by-election comes after the surprise resignation of former NSW Deputy Premier and Queanbeyan local John Barilaro.

Nichole Overall… star columnist and now candidate. Photo: Holly Treadaway

Nichole has been preselected as the Nationals candidate, confirming to me that she joined the party a few months ago (she knew something?) and that she was a country gal and, therefore one supposes, the surprise choice of party was in her DNA. She seems to be all too progressive for the Nats, but maybe that’s the point. 

Barilaro has a large personal following that’s fuelled his continuous re-election and the rookie candidate will be doubtless keen to add some of that to the Overall brand’s stardust in Queanbeyan and beyond.

Is this the end of our star columnist, or will the gentler pace of the back bench on Macquarie Street allow her to scribble out the odd “Yesterdays” opus during Question Time? I fear the nays will have it,  Nichole. 

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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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Ian Meikle

Ian Meikle

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