By Mike Welsh

Canberra’s Islamic community finally has a new place of worship, 17 years after plans were first made.

(Canberra Times Oct 8 2017)

This post was first published on July 5 2015

On Friday it took just 60 seconds for Master of the ACT Supreme Court, David Mossop, to comprehensively shut down the sinister anti-Muslim group “Concerned Citizens of Canberra” (CCC), which had attempted to “dog whistle” the Gungahlin community over a proposed Mosque two years ago.

Not only did Master Mossop dismiss the group’s legal challenge to the construction in the burgeoning Northern Canberra suburb, he also hit it with “costs”- which could exceed $200,000.

Within 20 seconds of sitting in his chair, Master Mossop stunned the six CCC supporters in court to hear the decision, with a firm “application dismissed” before quickly numbering the points of his ruling.

Following this speedy summary, “All rise” was called and Mossop was gone.

Friday’s court date forced the relentlessly secretive group to thrust their spokesperson, Christian Pastor Irwin Ross, before the media glare, an experience he seemed to relish once he got rolling.

A shocked and almost speechless Ross told me as we walked together from Court 6 , minutes after the spectacularly swift slap-down , that the group would need to “read the detail” of the document before making any statement.

The CCC’s lame mantra of a ”social impact, public interest and concerns about traffic and noise” quickly vanished and switched to its more strident agenda…

They (Muslims) are taking over. Gungahlin is just the beginning. Mosques and schools are popping up all over the place. Coles and Woolies are already full of Halal foods.

(Irwin Ross)

The Olive Tree Ministries Pastor went on to highlight the recent kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by vigilante group Boko Haram and the Boston Marathon bombing, asking, ”What’s behind all this?”

Friday’s ruling should be the final in a long list of humiliating “fails” for the CCC. The group has not gained any support for its hate campaign in the nation’s capital since the original secretive meeting, which attracted just 26 people, in July of 2012.




THE hype surrounding the announcement that Australia was entering the aeronautical industry managed to drown out the many issues niggling the Turnbull government, but specifics of the project remained scarce.

ballooons might just sit this one out

Your average cynic might dismiss the news as a draft script for an episode of the ABC’s TV satire “Utopia”, which brilliantly takes the mickey out of how Canberra spins such projects. But the reality is we could eventually have our own national space agency and benefit from the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs that apparently come with it. The ACT government has already signed an MOU with SA boosting the possibility of Canberra playing a major role in the project.

A PROMOTIONAL boast on brewer BentSpoke’s website (“since opening its doors in 2014, BentSpoke has continued to move onward and upward in the Canberra beer market”) has taken on a whole new meaning.

The innovative Braddon company has scored a contract to supply its Barley Griffin pale ale for Singapore Airlines’ flights between Sydney and Melbourne.

The airline’s spokesperson, former Canberran Karl Schubert, says: “The craft beer additions are part of the airline’s ongoing dedication to a high-quality food and beverage offering, as well as supporting local produce in the destinations they fly to”.

FOR a small town that famously punches above its weight in churning out world champions, Queanbeyan is about to be exposed to a new and radical audience. David Campese, Heather McKay, Mark Webber, Ricky Stuart and thoroughbred Takeover Target make up just a minuscule list of locals who have kept the “something-in-the-water-in-Queanbeyan” phenomena alive.

But “Fardell”, a new documentary about champion Queanbeyan-born skateboarder Jack Fardell’s rise to international fame, takes the town’s sporting elixir mystique to another level. The 26-year-old Fardell, who is now based in LA, says: “I just think it’s a cool story about coming from a country town in Australia, pursuing your dreams and still having a love for home.”

A NEW report has revealed the CSIRO continues to grapple with low staff morale, but one former Canberra staffer says he’s moved on from his own highly publicised battle with the scientific research organisation. Banks man Jack Hoffman says he “was just another victim of abuse of power in the public service”. In 2012 the technician was sacked after being spotted at the Conder McDonalds drive-through buying a Big Mac. Problem was Hoffman was driving a CSIRO vehicle at the time and on a final warning after a series of breaches of company car use and other contentious workplace issues. Hoffman, a large man, also suffered from the hurtful tabloid headlines such stories automatically receive.

AFTER waiting 37 long, frustrating years, former Gungahlin AFL Jets president Joe Cortese was not going to miss the grand final action in Melbourne.


Cortese was in yellow and black heaven for the traditional grand final parade through Melbourne’s CBD but baulked at a scalper’s offer of $1200 for a ticket to the decider. Another Canberra Tigers fan was undeterred by the premiership premium. The 25-year-old was prepared to pay a reported $3500 for a ticket to witness “the pride of Punt Road hoist a Premiership cup”.

A CANBERRA gay and lesbian choir is mobilising voters in the SSM postal survey via a new type of social gathering. Qwire, numbering about 80 members who perform at a variety of events in the capital, recently hosted a “Call Party”. Fifty members gathered at the Cook Hall to hit the phones and “remind people it’s time to vote”. Spokesperson Jes Chandler says from between 600 and 800 calls the tally was 220 for yes, 200 unanswered and the balance in the negative.


STILL on the SSM postal survey and the Yass Valley may have become an unwilling marketing tool for the “Yes” campaign. A corny meme that reads “Be Like a NSW Town and Vote Yass” has popped up on social media in recent days.

The same sex discussion will be here to stay, regardless of the result


By Mike Jeffreys

“Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon.” Is an oft-repeated phrase I’ve heard on radio regarding the marriage equality debate.

Trust me, it won’t.

But why take my word for that? Here’s what Simon Copland from Green Agenda had to say in 2015: “For more than a decade now, marriage equality has dominated the energies of gay and lesbian campaigners. So when we achieve it, we can all celebrate and relax, right? Not a chance.”

It’s been argued with justification over the years same-sex couples have not been entitled to the same legal rights as the heteros.

But, that has not been the case for some time now. Click on and you will see “the NSW Relationships Register provides legal recognition for de facto couples, regardless of their sex.”

Here’s Mr Copland again: “It is true that marriage has become an extremely important symbol and its passage would be seen by many as a significant milestone in indicating the willingness of the state to treat gay and lesbian people equally. Yet, unfortunately, it is little more than a symbol. In Australia marriage equality actually, has few practical impacts.”


A quick look on the Internets will confirm the issue has been around for a while now. Even back to Roman times: “…in the early Imperial period some male couples were celebrating traditional marriage rites in the presence of friends. Male-male weddings are reported by sources that mock them.”

Australians are known for mocking.

Attorney General George Brandis is busy passing laws to make sure everyone conforms to his view of civilised debate, but that may be easier said than done. Gillian Triggs, when she was president of the Human Rights Commission, lamented: “Sadly you can say (outside) what you like around the kitchen table at home.”

If Steve and Kev announce at a mixed dinner party that they are now married, and a non-believer rolls his eyes and says “Of course you are”, will the hostess be obliged to call the thought police?

Emperor Nero celebrated public weddings with men, possibly once as the groom, and twice as the bride.

The ceremonies included traditional elements such as a dowry and the wearing of the Roman bridal veil. Other mature men at his court had husbands, or said they had husbands in imitation of the emperor (always good to keep on side with the boss). And yet, even though satire would have been a risky business in those days, there was still mocking.


The rector of one of Sydney’s more fashionable cathedrals told me in conversation that he was “surprised that the gays, with their lifestyles, would choose the bourgeois cul-de-sac of marriage.”


I have known a few Steve and Kevs, but some gay males of my acquaintance have admitted being hedonists, merely out for a good time. Some have complained to me that the Mardi Gras has become dull because of the lesbian influence.

Could it be – despite what Cyndi Lauper used to say – it’s the boys who just want to have fun, while the girls are earnest and political?

The rector of one of Sydney’s more fashionable cathedrals told me in conversation that he was “surprised that the gays, with their lifestyles, would choose the bourgeois cul-de-sac of marriage.”

Although male couples are mostly used to illustrate media stories (the ABC uses photographs of men who look like they could have stepped out of a Fletcher Jones window in 1956) according to the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, women were more likely to participate in the survey than men. It’s been claimed that most of the signatories to the AMA petition accusing anyone who opposes same sex marriage of acting like a racist are women.

Just looking at the list of names certainly seems to confirm that.

I spoke to a visiting US professor who has studied the issue extensively and put it to her from my years of discussing the issue that the big push for gay marriage seemed to be from females.

She agreed and said: “What little girl doesn’t want a big white wedding?”

But what then?

Also on The Big Smoke

If a daughter’s aim is to convince Mum that marrying another woman is a real marriage just like cousin Amelia who married a man, because the “Yes” vote won and the State says so, will that satisfy Mum’s biological imperative to become a grandmother?

And speaking of lesbians, one I know told me because she couldn’t have a child that was truly hers and her lover’s, she wouldn’t be doing it.

That seemed to be a grown up position from someone who knows her own mind. “Boston Marriage” was a term used in the 19th and early 20th century to refer to two single women living together, independent of men. The term was originally coined in Henry James’ novel The Bostonians, which told the tale of an intimate companionship between two wealthy, Boston women.

But whether giving that arrangement state sanction and calling it “a marriage” will keep Mum happy when there are no grandkids seems unlikely to me. Sadly you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.

While the ladies may love a wedding no matter what the makeup of the happy couple, I’ll put my money on biology winning in the end. Pick your poll to support your argument (although most say “Yes” will win, 67% of Telegraphreaders will say “No”).

But “Yes” or “No”, you can be sure campaigners will keep campaigning, people who don’t feel the imprimatur of the state or the church is necessary to legitimise their relationships will continue to make their own arrangements and parents who want direct descendants will still be disappointed.

Lisa Simpson, when confronted with the chant from Springfield’s gay pride marchers, “We’re here, we’re queer – get used to it” says: “You say that every year, we’re used to it.”

It’s a situation that has waxed and waned for at least a couple of thousand years that we know of, and no matter what the postman delivers, I don’t think it’s going to be resolved anytime soon.

Mike Jeffreys has been a radio broadcaster most of his working life, with occasional forays in to other media. He’s been seen lately on SKY NEWS. He has three sons and is a mediocre poker player.


STRIVING to maintain its mantle as a progressive jurisdiction the ACT will trial a pill-testing program at the Spilt Milk music festival in November. Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris says “while the government does not condone drug use” the groundbreaking, free, anonymous service means “young people who are considering taking drugs can be informed about what’s really in their pills and how potent they are”.

AN iconic luxury hotel is coming to Canberra. In fact it may already be here. Making the bold claim is Geocon MD Nick Georgalis after purchasing the West Block building in the Parliamentary Triangle from the Federal government. Georgalis plans to restore the historic building to “the most famous hotel in Australia” and “one of those ‘must see’ icons when people visit Australia’s national capital, like Raffles in Singapore or George V in Paris”.

The developer, who recently also purchased the Garema Centre building, says of the latest acquisition: “We want Australians to have maximum opportunity to enjoy its history, as they are able to do with Old Parliament House.”


THE embarrassing “lowest crowd in professional era” headline following the Wallabies win over Argentina at Canberra Stadium, could have been even more humiliating if not for a concerted “complimentary” ticket campaign. One local was bemused when collecting her free double pass to be told that she could have more, “stacks more, if she wanted”. Stack being the operative word as there was a very tall pile of complimentary tickets waiting to be collected.

A CANBERRA teenager has become the pin-up for the “No” campaign after being sacked for posting support for the “It’s OK to say No” campaign. The 18-year-old Christian says she was punted from her casual job as children’s entertainer by the business owner who told her in promoting the “No” vote she was homophobic and spreading hate speech.


UNSURPRISINGLY, another Canberra connection to the divisive SSM survey debate has gone national with former prime minister Tony Abbott endorsing Brindabella Christian College’s right to campaign for a “No” vote. College principal Bruce Handley sent a four-page letter to parents “out of love and for love” urging them to become involved and vote no. But ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry has cautioned schools to respect LGBTIQ members of their community. Abbott says Berry is out of line: “If Woolworths and Qantas can speak their mind without anyone bullying them, why can’t Brindabella speak its mind without anyone bullying them”.

THE fight in the dog in the fight is about to be tested as the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club vows to continue its fight to prevent a ban on the sport in the ACT. But CM Andrew Barr remains determined to uphold the ban vowing not to “do a Mike Baird”. Barr says he won’t follow the former NSW Premier’s lead of backflipping on a greyhound ban and then promptly leaving politics. Although the political “dogs are barking” that only 50 per cent of Barr’s pledge will be honoured.

MEANTIME, the shadow minister for gaming and racing, Mark Parton, has put a fruitful “gap in his manners” in the Assembly. The former radio man has greatly enhanced his burgeoning reputation as either Liberal Leader Alistair Coe’s “head-kicker” or an instinctive political operator. Parton questioned a “selective” inclusionism fostered by the Barr government which he said “failed straight, white males over the age of 30”.

STARVED of finals action since 2011, the UC Capitals basketball team is looking to the new season with confidence with star US import Jordan Hooper, fresh from a season with the WNBA Chicago Sky touching down. The 25-year-old power forward from Nebraska, who made the All-American team in 2014, says she appreciates another chance to play in Australia after a stint with the South East Queensland Stars two years ago.





By Mike Welsh

I’m neither bent nor bigoted, but I am confused. Baffled would be a better word. Baffled by the appalling attitude and blatant hypocrisy displayed by people who demand a tolerant and inclusive society, but fail to apply it to people who don’t share their opinion.

For a good chunk of the past dozen years I gratefully accepted a meagre stipend for ranting and raving daily at Canberrans on talkback radio. I have an intimate understanding of the “average Canberran”. Though many would be offended at the very term “average”.


Last week the outstanding weekly glossy magazine Canberra CityNews ran a front page story about Nick and Sarah Jensen, a local Christian couple who have threatened to divorce each other if same sex marriage legislation gets up. Call it a stunt or a foolish protest if you will, but the massive backlash to the story is a sad indictment on the parts of society who not only prides themselves on being tolerant, they demand it.

Some Canberrans believe they are not only better educated and remunerated, but more cultivated and couth than the rest of the country. Fact is, they pride themselves as being sufficiently civilised to tolerate the diversity necessary for the “social utopia” that is Canberra, be they cyclists, prisoners, or the pornographers. All manner of groups in the community are tolerated and some are even celebrated, but there is a limit to which the tolerance of this smart and civil city can be stretched. Christians. Yes there are plenty of Christians in Canberra and I have been one of them.

CityNews Editor, Ian Meikle, a veteran newspaper man, was neither shocked nor offended by the avalanche of vile and vicious criticism of him and the hideous hate slogans levelled at the Jensens, which swamped the site after the article. The ugly onslaught did leave Ian utterly depressed. Depressed by the obvious and total inability of a powerful section of the community to discuss an important issue in a mature manner.

“Having a conversation” is the new phrase that has crept into the lexicon to replace “debate”. But when was the last time you had a conversation that begun with “Filthy bigoted pigs” and ended with “Hope you homophobic morons rot in hell”?

The hate that CityNews copped did not all come from Canberra, in fact, the filth flooded in from around the globe to the scores of publications that picked up the story. Still, plenty came from the locals when there should have been plenty of support for the magazine’s courage.

Ian could only read a dozen “comments” at a time without becoming morose. Many had to be moderated, such was the disturbing content. He is simply the editor of a magazine that chose to publish the other side of an emotionally charged and important issue. He is not the Christian couple pulling the controversial stunt. Seems few are sadly prepared to make that distinction.

In 2011, ACT Brumbies and Wallaby player David Pocock and his partner Emma, both committed Christians, declared they would NOT marry until same sex marriage was legal. The couple had a wedding ceremony in 2010 and describe themselves as married, but didn’t sign documents confirming their union. So the Pococks, like the Jensens, who will continue to live together after the “divorce”, are actually married. I can’t recall any public outcry over their stunt.

Dare to say you don’t agree with same sex marriage and the odds are you’ll be labelled homophobic and bigoted. Politically correct individuals and lately, corporates, cover their potential homophobic and bigoted butts with the worn-out phrase “Some of our friends are gay”. Which is to say they are magnanimous enough to squeeze some gay colleagues into their vast array of besties in order to tick a few inclusive boxes.

I’m sure one lesbian friend doesn’t understand why I’m a Christian about as much as I don’t understand why she’s gay, but it doesn’t impact on our relationship. We respect that and don’t judge each other. There are many things we don’t understand in society, but to disparage and denigrate each other will not lead to a better understanding of anything.


By Mike Welsh

Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ” 
― Oscar Wilde

When I was growing up in Tassie the form-guide to politics was much less complicated by colour.If you like it was straight forward black and white. We had a Green named Brown (Bob) who was called Yellow (for his anti-Vietnam war stance) and a Red (commie) and who ended up in the Risdon Prison (known as the Pink Palace) for his principles. Simple. And later we had a Premier named Gray (Robin) but that’s a horse of a completely different colour.


In one recent blatant colour changing spray 2GB’s Alan Jones turned his loyalty formula of picking and sticking- to those of a conservative bent- completely on it’s head. Following a lengthy and shameless session slobbering at the boots of former Labor leader Mark Latham, the master broadcaster then drove his size 12 steel caps into Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. It’s becoming very confusing especially for his adoring Grey Nomad fans who remain glued to his every word as they drive into their wide blue yonder.

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.” ― Pablo Picasso