By Mike Welsh


VIRGINIA Haussegger’s favourite day of the year is International Women’s Day. The director of the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 initiative says her new job affords her space to speak openly on women’s issues.

The former Canberra ABC TV news anchor told an IWD gathering, including former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce and former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, that her role at the national broadcaster “became too difficult” as there “was an attitude that you were not to express personal opinions”.

Ms Haussegger said March 8 was “a moment to grab the opportunity to make a bit of noise and acknowledge the progress we’ve made”.

THE courts on which Canberra tennis star Nick Kyrgios polished his early game have fallen into shameful disrepair. Established by professional player Todd Larkham’s family, the Hawker Tennis Centre’s courts are almost overgrown with weeds and strewn with rubbish with dilapidated out buildings covered with graffiti.

But the future of the site is back on the front burner with developers seeking discussions with the Friends of Hawker Village group. The complex is zoned “restricted access recreation” which saw a DA for a child-care centre lodged in 2016 knocked back by the ACT government.

KINGSTON Square was recently overtaken by the excitement and glamour of a film set. A day of shooting for the second series of the Foxtel drama “Secret City” took place at the Otis restaurant in Jardine Street. Filming for the political thriller, which stars Jacki Weaver and Marcus Graham, and features locals hired as extras, continues at several locations across Canberra until March 26.

CANBERRA bred AFLW trailblazer Bec Goddard has called for a blind selection process to eliminate gender bias in the league’s coaching ranks. Only two senior and four assistant coaching roles in the league are held by women.

Goddard, who coached the Adelaide Crows to the inaugural AFLW premiership, says gender should be taken out of the equation.

“I’d love to see a blind process where the name is taken off the CV and you therefore don’t know if the coach is male or female and you can see from their experience, it makes it a merit-based process if they’re good enough to get the job”.


ACT Senator Zed Seselja has finally conceded a small portion of his parliamentary perks. The Assistant Minister for Social Security and Multicultural Affairs is (along with all Canberra based MPs and senators) entitled to claim an allowance of $90 per sitting day “for meals and incidental expenses”.

Seselja will no longer claim the allowance after pocketing almost $13,000 since 2013. The allowance is not claimed by Katy Gallagher, Gai Brodtmann and Andrew Leigh although he has claimed it in the past.

ONE-time NRL bad boy Todd Carney may have another shot at the big time with the North Queensland Cowboys. The deal, yet to be ratified by the NRL integrity unit, would see him at his fourth NRL club. After a well-documented and controversial career the 2010 Dally M winner says: “I think I’ve become a better player, a smarter player. I definitely believe I can handle the NRL.”


MEANTIME, the Raiders have ditched AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” as their run-on theme, returning to the familiar sound of the club’s original song. The Green Machine composer Les Gock from the ‘70s glam-rock pop band Hush will be on hand to blow the Viking horn in round two.

THERE are fears an internal ACT Health investigation into bullying at Calvary Hospital, following the suicide of nurse Andrew Earl in 2017, will be a whitewash. Earl’s friends, who claim bullying contributed to his death, are concerned staff are not being made aware of the inquiry and are using social media to encourage anyone with a story to come forward, posting on Facebook: “The investigation will only make a difference to the bullying culture at Calvary if more people contribute.”



SEVEN DAYS City News March 7

By Mike Welsh

A SHONKY fencing contractor who ripped off scores of locals has been jailed for 18 months in NSW.

In 2012 NSW Fair Trading issued several warnings over dealing with Matthew Geoffrey Rixon, trading under at least five different business names and aliases. Rixon, based at Queanbeyan, would enter into contracts to supply and install fencing and decking but once a deposit was made often failed to complete work or carried out shoddy work.

CANBERRA developer Nick Haridemos has drawn swift public condemnation after posting photos of his big game hunting exploits on social media.

Mr Haridemos has stood down as vice president of the Hellenic Club after the photos, including one of him standing over a dead elephant in Africa, were published. Spokesperson for the Canberra branch of Animal Protectors Alliance,Frankie Seymour, says: “Naturally we are appalled that anyone gets pleasure out of killing sentient animals and disgusted that anyone should then want to boast about it.”


A VILE bullying campaign in the early ’90s threatens to tarnish the stellar career of Canberra-bred comedians the Doug Anthony All Stars. Journalist Candace Sutton has written a piece in the #metoo mode detailing a series of offensive faxes sent to her by founding DAAS member Tim Ferguson in response to a negative review she had written. Ferguson has issued a statement saying “Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and their former colleague Richard Fidler, express an unreserved apology to journalist Candace Sutton for behaviour towards her that was both offensive and unprofessional.”

BLACK sashes draped across the “Kambah Sheep” sculpture on Drakeford Drive provide a respectful gesture following the death of Matthew Harding, the artist who created the piece. The Canberra sculptor, whose public art is featured around the world and includes “The Cushion and Wedge” in Garema Place, Civic, has died in Victoria at the age of 53.

JACQUI Lambie may have been unceremoniously punted from Canberra but she’s determined to return. The former independent Tasmanian senator told a capacity crowd at the ANU launch of her new book “Rebel with a Cause”, she is prepared to do whatever it takes to win back her Senate spot. The leader of the JLN was in top form, questioning Tasmanian activist Michael Mansell’s indigenous heritage and calling former PM Tony Abbott “a little bugger” over his stance on same-sex marriage. If a thick hide and a talent for self promotion are what it takes, the former soldier will be back.

THE following night the Copland Lecture Theatre hosted orthopaedic surgeon Dr Munjed Al Muderis who began his training at ANU. The activist and now world leader in his field shared an amazing story of being forced to flee Iraq at the risk of facing a firing squad after refusing orders from Saddam Hussein to mutilate deserters. After arriving in Australia by boat Dr Al Muderis was detained in the Curtin Detention Centre for 10 months. He now divides his time between pioneering revolutionary technology and advocating for refugees.

IN the ’80s rock guru Molly Meldrum spearheaded a cheezy TV commercial to convince kids that wearing a bike helmet was cool. The campaign featured an awkward Meldrum swapping his signature Akubra for a dorky looking stack-hat. Over 30 years on, ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury suggests the “uncoolness” of wearing bike helmets may be the reason more aren’t riding bikes. Rattenbury argues: “If removing the requirements for helmets actually encourages more people to cycle, and the overall health benefits that come from that outweigh the risk of immediate trauma from an accident… it’s a question worth asking”.

DESPITE relentless warnings of the dangers of driving through flood waters some Canberrans were still prepared to try their luck during the one-in-a-100-year flood. Large four-wheel-drive owners, obviously starved of the authentic off-road experience, ploughed through flooded waters dangerously spraying high sheets of water over smaller vehicles wisely opting to give the lakes a wide berth.



By Mike Welsh

PM Malcolm Turnbull’s bonk ban was begging to be ridiculed from its very conception, but it does offer the ACT a radical marketing opportunity.

The presence of, say, “Canberra – the bonking stops here” billboards at the border and the airport would be  guaranteed to put the territory on the map. Just a thought.


AND just how many “Bonking” Barnabys will be painted for next year’s Bald Archies exhibition is unclear, but it’s certain the member for New England will hang prominently in the irreverent art competition.

This year’s 25th staging of the so called “eccentric icon” of the art community – showing at the Watson Arts Centre until March 12 – is dominated by same-sex marriage with portraits of Labor Senator Penny Wong, conservative MPs Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi, and actor Craig McLachlan who stands accused of sexual misconduct during his time on the “Rocky Horror Show”.


HAWKER locals are unhappy over the passing of a favourite local. “Tom” the tomato plant had been growing tall and strong through a crack in the footpath in front of Olive at Hawker restaurant but was the victim of a government weed-spraying program.

Olive at Hawker owner George Yianoulakis said many villagers had been following the progress of the late-blooming Romaes variety, some even watering it. One local delivered a gnome named “Ollie” to fill the void created by the botanical blunder.

Curiously, “Tom” was initially  replaced with a large potted capsicum, but in recent days, a new “Tom” has turned up.

THE Alexander Maconochie Centre continues to punch above its weight in negative news commentary. On top of achieving the unenviable mantle of being (statistically) among the worst prisons in the nation for prisoner-on-staff assaults, CM Andrew Barr has been forced to defend his Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury. Opposition corrections spokesperson Giulia Jones says: “Escapes from the prison and Canberra Hospital, the accidental release of a prisoner and two recent deaths in custody had brought Mr Rattenbury’s performance under question.”


THE post-election allegation of sexual assault by an ACT Greens volunteer has apparently forced the party to implement training.

“The Australian” reports it received a leaked email that reveals volunteers will be required to undertake consent training. The newspaper says the email – sent to Greens members by ACT Co-conveners Emma Davidson and Penny Kyburz – “details three complaints made during the 2016 election campaign relating to workplace bullying, mismanagement of a volunteer’s mental health and an alleged sexual assault.”

FORMER Hit 104.7 breakfast co-host Tanya Hennessy is back on Canberra radio. The comedian and emerging multimedia star who abruptly quit the capital in November will host the Hit network’s national weekend 7am-9am slot. Hennessy, a finalist in “Cosmo’s” 2017 Woman of the Year and winner of the Video Junkee Breakthrough award has also written a book, out in June.

CELEBRITY spotters had a field day with a host of famous faces in town for the Ricky Stuart charity pro-am golf at Royal Canberra. Dual Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jimmy Cassidy teed off with Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Shane Warne in the event which raised more than $100,000 for the Ricky Stuart Foundation, launching its second respite facility, Emma Ruby House – named after Stuart’s daughter Emma Stuart – later this year.

RARELY far from controversy the annual National Multicultural Festival tossed up a few new “issues”. One festival goer posted on social media “extremely disappointed, disheartened and offended to find out there was an anti-abortion [Right to Life] tent”. Another says they felt “conned and misled” upon entering the “Human Rights” tent to discover it was staffed by Church of Scientology members. Festival organisers say they will review stall holders for next year after complaints were received over the Right to Life stall.


By Mike Welsh

MY Valentine’s Day dawned awkwardly with a text from a local panel beater wishing me “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mike” and alerting me to the troubling fact that, “many of our clients have had issues choosing their repairer of choice ….”

But by mid-morning romance emerged in the form of a free National Condom Day, long-stemmed (plastic), red rose with a pack of condoms with the attached message: “You know where to put it”.

Sadly, by late afternoon scores of the roses had been discarded across the city, prophylactics intact. I kept mine. Nostalgia, I guess.

STILL on wistful yearnings of yesteryear, what does CM Andrew Barr have against older Canberrans?

The man who allegedly told a public meeting in 2016 that he wasn’t “interested in the views of people over 40”, has bagged the “small-town, backwards, 1940’s mindset” resistance to high-rise development across the city.

Barr said a “nostalgic” attitude existed “among a certain generation of Canberrans”, which he conceded would “remain for the rest of their lives”. Are Barr’s ageist comments those of someone not planning to seek re-election?

THE 10th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generation drew thousands of visitors to Canberra, among them Nimbin activist Gerhard Weihermann. Up early for a solo smoking ceremony at the front doors of Parliament House, Weihermann arrived at 6.30, but was quickly moved on by three friendly AFP officers to the lawns where he was able to conduct his ceremony.


MEANTIME, while the atrium at Parliament House resembles a Mr Fluffy house (triple glazing ahead of the predicted stones of hypocrisy?), down on the ground is the bizarre story of rogue security bollards.

Apparently, in five incidents the undersides of Comcars ferrying politicians have been pierced by the pneumatically powered poles randomly rising as the vehicles pass over, resulting in several reportedly being written off.

Fault is aimed squarely at the controversial multi-million dollar security upgrade of the site.

HOW many car parking spaces does a public car park have to offer to the public to qualify as a public car park?

Trying to score a spot in the Bailey’s Corner park lately is akin to a lottery and is creating a hostile environment. With ACT MLAs and their staff taking over a large chunk and the Northbourne Avenue end closed for construction, frustrated motorists could be forgiven for thinking they are not welcome in the city.

After 20 minutes of circling they are forced out to try their luck at the nearby Magistrates Court facility where they must compete with even more drivers circling for a spot that just doesn’t exist. Tensions are running high and a potential car park rage incident is just waiting to erupt.

THE Trump administration’s announcement that Admiral Harry Binkley Harris Jris to be dispatched to Canberra to take up duties as US ambassador may have diverted an awkward diplomatic slap.

Last month former Deputy PM Tim Fischer labelled the failure to appoint an ambassador as “bordering on a diplomatic insult” with the role remaining vacant since September, 2016.

Good news is that the highly decorated son of a US Marine and Japanese mother, Harris has been described as “down-to-earth, direct” and “not afraid to be undiplomatic”, which makes him potentially an entertaining and colourful addition to our diplomatic community.

AND the final word (for now) on the Barnaby Joyce scandal is one which has barely been uttered over the past few weeks. While archaic words such as mistress and affair have annoyed the PC police, adultery doesn’t get a look in.

Guest speaker at last October’s National Prayer Breakfast in the Great Hall, Christian author and theologian, Dr John Dickson, tweeted: “Don’t get the ‘righteous outrage’ about the imbalance of power in Barnaby’s relationship, surely, what most undermines high office is adultery: the deepest betrayal of the most solemn promise to one’s deepest love”.


EXPLOSIVE revelations of government filing cabinets filled with classified documents ending up at a Fyshwick op-shop have sparked a few yarns from long-retired Canberra public servants.


One involves a filing cabinet idly gathering dust since the ’70s due to a lost combination. Finally, in the mid-’90s a manager asked if anyone knew the code and received a negative reply with the reminder of the government’s two full-time locksmiths.

Tradesmen were summoned and the dusty relic was opened in less than five minutes. Nothing inside except an amusing, five-page “report to the minister” dated 1975. The original briefing was identical to one written 20 years later, taking 50 pages to articulate the same message. No secrets there.

IS Transport Canberra re-defining the job description of the humble lollipop lady? Signs have been erected at the busy bike/pedestrian crossing in front of Turner Primary School proclaiming “TRAFFIC MUST STOP when directed by the Traffic Supervisor”. A lollipop lady/person should be a sufficiently, universally recognised and totally non-negotiable signal for traffic to STOP. Why the need for heavy-handed signs posted all around the site? A prudent practice to protect the kiddies or just another example of pandering to the ever increasing demands of the pedal push?

THE capital continues to punch well above its weight in yet another aspect of hospitality – the hipster hop. Eight Canberra-brewed beers have been included on a prestigious list of craft beers. The GABS (Great Australasian Beer Spectacular) Hottest 100 Craft Beers for 2017 lists Bentspoke’s “Crankshaft” at number three. The brewer was also recognised for its “Sprocket” (24th) and “Barley Griffin” (27th). Fyshwick’s Capital Brewery’s products were also recognised (25th, 28th and 68th). While Pact’s “Mount Tennent Pale Ale” is in at number 50.

STILL at the bar and choosing a “watering hole” for a catch-up beer with a former colleague proved problematic. Nailing the locality (Kingston) was the easy part, but the venue? What about Hale & Mary or The Dock or Walt & Burley or the Beef & Barley? Couldn’t help wonder how a “fruity but caramel-centred” craft beer would have gone down in the smoke-filled front bars of bloodhouses such as The Commercial, The Railway or clubs in which I (mis)spent most of my youth.

CANBERRA dominates the national rental shortage conversation. Arriving students are increasingly forced into couch-surfing after failing to find suitable housing. Stats suggest house and apartment rentals in Canberra have shot up to be third highest in the nation behind Darwin and Sydney. Students report queueing with dozens of others at property inspections. A group of four young professionals looking to share are still without a roof after applying for more than 25 rental properties since early January.

THE TGA’s ban on over-the-counter codeine products to curb overdoses has created new problems for those who need to manage pain. The Canberra Endometriosis Network has been swamped with comments from frustrated women who say the ban exacerbates the already widespread problem they face in having endometriosis recognised.

One woman wrote: “Being an apprentice hairdresser, I have to spend $75 to try and get stronger drugs so I can still work. I’m so sick of the judgement looks at the pharmacy as I have tatts and my hair is purple and, apparently, I look like a drug addict.” Another says: “I can’t afford to spend $80 a month to explain to my doctor who is already aware of my pain.”

A HUMOROUS guide to what’s going down in the capital – using acronyms – is flying around the twittershire. For newcomers and old-timers alike @realcanberra posted a list of acronyms under the banner “Is Your Child Texting About Canberra?” Here are some of them: AMA – Ascent Mt Ainslie; BRB – Belconnen Rocks Bruh; LMAO: Lucky Mooseheads is Always Open, and the odd abbreviation, IDC – Ideal Date Carillon. But no WTF? Wasting Time in Fyshwick!


LATE 2013 I left the Capital Radio Network – after more than a decade as a presenter – frustrated at the workplace culture. A “Canberra Times” front-page story suggests little has changed.


Journalists Tom Mcllroy and Tracey Spicer reported management’s alleged failure to properly address claims of sexual harassment brought by a young, female journalist against 2CA announcer Frank Vincent. Vincent – labelled by staff as “untouchable” – was sacked a day after management received a list of questions from the “Times”. Word from long-term Mitchell staffers is that the former breakfast personality is not the only one perceived to be “untouchable”.

“OUR Nick” may have finally won our respect. In losing to Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open “The Australian” sport reporter Will Swanton says that by having a “serious crack”, the Canberra superstar Nick Kyrgios “lost nothing but may have found something”. Swanton reports Kyrgios was “still telling his courtside box to f— off. He was still chastising them, embarrassing them and ordering them to stand the f— up. He slammed a ball into the grandstand and escaped a code violation. But all was okay. Why? Because he was giving 110 per cent”.

A YEAR ago “Seven Days” reported the “rare sight” of two men sitting in deck chairs on a traffic island at peak hour at Canberra’s most dangerous intersection. The pair of locals held grave safety fears after the installation of traffic lights at the Gundaroo Drive/William Slim Drive/Barton Highway roundabout and took ringside seats to witness the “switching on” of the $10 million project. One year on it appears the doubters were wrong. ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris says “between January and December 2017 a total of 47 accidents was reported compared with an average of 100 per year for the 2012-16 period”.

CANBERRA transgender athlete Hannah Mouncey, who made national headlines last year after being barred from playing in the national women’s AFLW competition, is gearing up for another season with the Ainslie club. The former Commonwealth Games handball representative posted on Facebook: “Just re-registered for season 2018, now let’s see what happens”. Mouncey was blocked from playing in the inaugural competition being deemed “to have an unfair advantage” over the rest of the competition. Whether the goalposts will be shifted to include Mouncey this year is not clear, but the issue will certainly dominate coverage of the second season of the highly successful AFL initiative.

PERSONAL injury law firm Blumers has cleverly used social media to promote a decade-old TV commercial campaign that featured principals Mark and Noor Blumer’s five-year-old grandson Max. Max, who began “spruiking” at the age of two, was back on the box – for January only – in the silent-movie themed spots. For the record “little” Max – whose line was “call Blumers” – now stands over 183 centimetres (six foot) and is in year 12.

A SHORT piece in “City News” late last year plugging a reunion for staffers at the Australian Government Publishing Service has brought romance in the New Year for two single Canberrans. Ron and Angela were colleagues at the Kingston site and dated several times, but had not seen each other since 1973. Ron, now 71, claims to have no memory of the back-in-the-days dates, though Angela suggests Ron’s amnesia is “selective” for a good reason. The romance came to a shuddering halt when he over-indulged and left Angela to find her own way home from a party to which he’d taken her. But time heals all.

CONVENTIONAL wisdom says “giving a dog a bad name” is not good but here’s a tip anyway. The good oil is that a young greyhound with the pedestrian moniker of “Nugget” but renamed “Community Values” by those lobbying the Barr government to lift a ban on the sport in the ACT -– came second in its first race and shows signs of a promising career on the track.