By Mike Welsh

A beautiful Canberra Sunday and a brilliant collection of quality cars (and trucks) at John Knight park

1939 Studebaker





FOR the second time in less than a month the nation will hold its collective breath and focus on Canberra for the outcome of a controversial issue. ABS House in Belconnen has been confirmed as the venue for the announcement of the result of the SSM postal survey. The ABS press release says it “anticipates some media organisations will live broadcast the media conference”. The format of the November 15 revelation is not clear but clearly won’t resemble the traditional Tally Room setting with Kerry O’Brien heading a panel of experts skilfully unpacking voting trends.


TANYA Hennessy cried herself to sleep every night for her first three months in Canberra but leaves the capital a grateful performer after spending the past three months fielding a range of career options.

The Hit 104.7’s breakfast co-host said the wave of hate directed toward her after she and co-host Ryan Jon replaced breakfast stalwarts Scotty and Nige in 2016 was overwhelming, and “something I didn’t think I would be able to push through but 20 months on I not only did but I am about to take my brand to new levels”.

While Hennessy was unable to go into detail on her 2018 plans, Jon is joining a breakfast crew on Perth radio.


RETAILERS have reported a broadening of the demographic buying scary costumes for Halloween. Apparently adults are now almost as likely as children to don the scary wigs and face masks and celebrate the pagan festival, which was All Hallows’ Eve (October 31). In one Belconnen street alone several groups of 8-10 children and a smaller bunch of teenagers observed the trick-or-treating tradition revered by Americans. The Liversidge children from Higgins, Zac, Hazel and Jude, celebrated their third Halloween.


A STUNNING three-metre mural of the late John Hanna has added an extra dimension to an increasingly colourful Garema Place. Artist Christopher Toth’s “first in best dressed” painting on the wall of Bible House – commissioned by In the City – was unveiled recently. On hand for the official ceremony were Hanna’s wife Diana and daughter Melanie, both reportedly agreeing the menswear icon, who lost a battle with cancer in September, would be “chuffed” with the result.


ALSO in Garema Place, personal-injury-law-firm spruiker Mal Meninga was wearing his other hat to plug the Kangaroos v France game in the Rugby League World Cup at Bruce Stadium. The national league mentor appeared comfortable and relaxed despite questions from the assembled media pack on his coaching plans post World Cup.

THE Thunderbirds are gone but a convey of the classics they call the personal luxury car has left an impact on the capital. The recent Thunderbird Owners Club of Australia conducted its annual national meet with T-Birders from NSW, Victoria, SA and even Tasmania rolling through. T-Birds from the original 1955 model through to 2005 – some valued at $120,000 – were polished up and presented for the prestigious Car of the Show award.


STILL on high performance and classic cars. The Ferrari is long gone, replaced by a nice mid ’90s Mercedes, but former Liberal Party leader John Hewson is still in top gear. The 71-year-old who lost the “unlosable election” to Paul Keating in 1993, cut an impressive figure in Canberra recently leaping from his German classic in the carpark of Parliament House. Later the economist unloaded both barrels on the Turnbull government over its handling of the Manus Island standoff, taking direct aim at Immigration Minister Peter Dutton whom he described as “uncompassionate”.

AND possibly one of the reasons why Canberra was rated as “Lonely Planet’s” third-best city to visit in 2018 – the local dinner party gossip, rumour and innuendo. Broadcaster and Kevin Rudd bestie Phillip Adams tweeted after his “Late Night Live” radio program special on political sex scandals: “Just said I know of 6-7 Oz PMs with secret and potentially scandalous sex lives”.





A group of Canberra based indigenous people has occupied the unoccupied iconic Lobby restaurant in Parkes.

The Lobby Restaurant in Parkes

The group going by the name of Landlord Ngunnawal Custodians has issued the National Capital Authority- owners of the building-across from Old Parliament House-with an “eviction notice” and a bill for over $7mil in back rent. The figure calculated at $3,000 pw since 1968.

evict copy.jpg

The group of around a dozen including children is sleeping in the building which has been empty for over a year. The protestors moved in on Sunday and placed a wooden plank across the front door and pitched the Aborigional flag outside. A spokesperson says a meeting is scheduled for Wednesday (Nov 8) to plan the next step which includes a take opver of the nearby rose gardens.

clinton pryor
Clinton Pryor

Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and Yulparitja man Clinton Pryor who undertook the 5500 kms  Walk for Justice from Perth to Canberra arriving at the Tent Embassy on September 2 this year, returned to Canberra this week for a National gathering and is expected to be  a part of Wednesday’s meeting.


Police visited the Lobby restaurant today but left without incident.










“It was in Canberra wild rocker Jimmy Barnes met his wife, then 21-year-old uni student Jane Mahoney – a diplomat’s daughter – at an after-gig party,” writes Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH

THE devotion of some rock fans is mighty impressive. Forty-something Cold Chisel devotee Madelin left her Cootamundra home before 6am and headed for Dymocks at Westfield Belconnen.


Arriving at 8.30am Madelin – who has been attending Chisel concerts since 1987 – landed the coveted top spot in the queue to meet her hero Jimmy Barneswho wasn’t scheduled to rock up until 12.30pm. But rock up Barnes did and cheerfully signed copies of his latest book “Working Class Man” and posed for pics for over two hours.

CANBERRA is a significant chapter in the extraordinary Barnes’ life story. It was here the wild rocker met his wife, then 21-year-old uni student Jane Mahoney – a diplomat’s daughter – at an after-gig party, a meeting the Cold Chisel frontman will never forget: “Sitting in the corner of the room, not saying a word, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She looked like a princess, not someone you would see in a Motel 7 in the outer suburbs of Canberra”.

ANOTHER famous Australian with a strong Canberra connection also recently returned to his old stomping ground. Former PM Kevin Rudd was back at his alma mater, the ANU, to plug his latest book “Not for the Faint-hearted”.

Demonstrating the famous Rudd humility the former Lodge dweller charmed a near-capacity Llewellyn Hall audience including a 22-year-old woman wearing a “Kevin 07” T-shirt. During the “Conversation with Stan Grant” Rudd shared opinions of Tony Abbott: “the most destructive and negative politician we’ve produced”, Donald Trump: “a madman” and the Murdoch press as “a cancer on our democracy”.

CANBERRA bashers and cynics were quick to fire up on social media in the wake of “Lonely Planet” listing the capital as the world’s third best city to visit in 2018. Canberra curmudgeon Bernard Keane clearly disagrees, tweeting to the universe: “Memo to the rest of the world: @lonelyplanet is full of s*@t. Canberra is a great place to bring up kids, but ain’t no holiday destination.”

But “Lonely Planet’s” Chris Zeiher says: “The city has been hiding in plain sight. Rich with history, culture and entertainment, it offers something for every kind of traveller.”

CANBERRA lawyer Mark Blumer has broadened his legal horizons. The founder of personal-injury lawyers Blumers has financed a play being staged by the Tasmanian Theatre Company dealing with one of that state’s most controversial and divisive criminal cases. Blumer is executive producer of “An Inconvenient Woman”, which spotlights the judicial system surrounding the case of Susan Neill-Fraser, who is serving a long prison term for the murder of her de-facto Bob Chappell on Australian Day 2009.

THE mystery of a lush green tree sprouting from the top floor of the 20 storey Infinity Towers construction at Gungahlin has been explained. According to Wikipedia, the practice known as “topping out” goes back to ancient Scandinavia where a tree was placed at the top of a structure to appease the tree-dwelling spirits displaced during construction.

AN un-raced and un-named greyhound will soon be carrying the fortunes/future of local greyhound racing. Liberal spokesman for racing and gaming Mark Partonpromoted the syndication of the dog (20 members paying $300 each) designed to keep alive a campaign to prevent the Barr government from closing the industry. The Community Values syndicate – so called after Regulatory Services Minister Gordon Ramsay claimed the sport was “out of line with community values” – was reportedly oversubscribed within an hour of release.

AND talk about giving a dog a bad name; I was recently mistaken for a Liberal Party flunkey. Filming a lunchtime Unions ACT rally outside the Assembly – in the wake of Opposition Leader Alistair Coe’s inflammatory comments about unions – I was approached by a union official who demanded my credentials. When he became aware of the facts he backed off with: “That’s okay, then; I thought you were one of Coe’s team”.


AFL writer Patrick Smith’s analysis of the impact Ainslie transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey would have on the AFLW slightly misses the mark.

The AFL blocked the 196-centimetre-tall, 100-kilogram player from the national AFLW draft due to “physical disparity”.

Smith, writing in “The Australian” underrates the local league: “Those who argue if Mouncey was going to make football a one-sided affair in the AFLW then she would decimate the local Canberra league…. The Canberra league is far more relaxed. It is not quite social football”.

Smith has seemingly overlooked the five Canberran players in the Giant’s squad alone and the four locals who played for premiership club Adelaide.

CANBERRA-born sports journalist Erin Molan is tipped to anchor a renovated NRL “Footy Show” in 2018. The 30-something personality, who began her career at the local WIN TV network, was among the first names floated to replace the “axed” Paul “Fatty” Vautin who has anchored the Channel Nine league staple for almost a quarter of a century.

Molan’s career has flourished since moving to Sydney TV in 2010 and now includes an Australian Commercial Radio Award for the Best Newcomer at 2GB.

FORMER Raiders star Josh Dugan has vowed to dedicate the next phase of his colourful career “to saving others”. The pledge comes after the South Tuggeranong junior publicly thanked his partner, Jordan Danielle.

Dugan told the “Sydney Morning Herald’s” Danny Weidler, that she “has kept me sane and saved me in many ways. When I was younger I didn’t have anyone, that was my downfall in Canberra”.

The State-of-Origin star says he’s turned his life around, especially outside footy.

“I’m working on getting my diploma of mental health… I’ve struggled with that a little bit since I was a bit younger,” he says..

A SHORTLISTING for a prestigious Walkley award has capped off a stellar year for journalist Chris Uhlmann. In late August the former ABC political editor landed the plum gig as Channel Nine’s Canberra bureau chief replacing the retiring Laurie Oakes.

A month earlier Uhlmann’s report on Donald Trump’s appearance at the G20 summit in Hamburg went viral, drawing over a million views. The piece, for the ABC “Insiders” program, gives the journalist the opportunity to win a second Walkley after first being recognised in 2008.

WHILE Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie seeks to hobble the lobbying industry in Canberra, one group seeking access to policy makers was given the red carpet. Australian screen legends Bryan Brown, Sigrid Thornton, Leah Purcell and Gillian Armstrong were among a delegation that came to the capital to lobby politicians to get behind the Australian TV and film industry.

The high-profile Make it Australian campaigners are fighting for change in several areas including reform of local content rules and restoration of funding for public broadcasters and Screen Australia.

CANBERRA Libs have been accused of making local music festivals unsafe after successfully halting a pill-testing trial planned for November’s Spilt Milk event.

Acting Health Minister and Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury slammed shadow A-G Jeremy Hansonafter the groundbreaking trial was stopped on legal grounds.

Rattenbury says festivals “will now be more dangerous than if the pill testing trial went ahead”.

An unofficial pill-testing service, provided by harm-reduction activists, remains a faint possibility at up-coming local music festivals.

THERE’S an old saying in the Sport Of Kings about changing fortunes. “Going from Old Gold chocolates to boiled lollies” is an adage former Canberra political couple, Ian De Landelles and Mary Porter are now sadly all too familiar with. The retired political adviser and the former MLA are part-owners of the thoroughbred Fell Swoop which ran in the world’s richest turf race, the inaugural $10 million Everest Stakes at Randwick. Unfortunately the horse was injured during the race and earned the dubious claim of being the first to run last in the Everest.