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”.


The Dogs are barking …..Barnaby is about to be 'put down'.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce's arch enemy Tony Windsor is the proverbial 'dog with two dicks' this week. The former member for New England tweeted  @Barnaby_Joyce Time to go , but before you do you might apologies to my wife and my now deceased mother for your disgraceful behaviour and to the many others on your trail of misinformation and deceit . You deserve no sympathy , the sympathy should go to those you have damaged” .
While good ole Barn's bush buddies gather today to decide what to do about the dirty dog,the canine theme was let off the leash at the weekend. The Tele's Miranda Devine's  piece on the Barney business,revisited another famous political philander. Quoting Natalie Joyce on Barnaby's form .....Devine wrote  Joyce “hasn’t been an easy dog to keep on the porch”, as Hillary Clinton once put it, but Natalie has persevered, understanding that highs and lows are part of his personality telling friends “he always comes back”. 
Is this a political comeback or is she referring to his form in 'leaving the porch'?


By Mike Welsh

1 WHEN I’M 64 (SHE’LL BE 47)











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.


The one-liners were impeccable, unimprovable. Dangerfield spent years on them; he once told an interviewer that it took him three months to work up six minutes of material for a talk-show appearance.

CreditAllen Tannenbaum/Images Press/Getty Images.

Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway. Then, after nine years, failing at it and giving it up in disgust and moving to Englewood, N.J., and selling aluminum siding. And then, years later, trying the thing again, though it wrecks your marriage, and failing again. And eventually making a meticulous study of the thing and figuring out that, by eliminating every extraneous element, you could isolate what makes it work and just do that. And then, after becoming better at it than anyone who had ever done it, realizing that maybe you didn’t need the talent. That maybe its absence was a gift.

These were the stations on the via dolorosa of Jacob Cohen, a.k.a. Rodney Dangerfield, whose comedy I hold above all others’. At his peak — look on YouTube for any set he did between 1976 and 1990 — he was the funniest entertainer ever. That peak was long in coming; by the time he perfected his act, he was nearly 60. But everything about Dangerfield was weird. While other comedians of that era made their names in television and film, Dangerfield made his with stand-up. It was a stand-up as dated as he was: He stood on stage stock-still in a rumpled black suit and shiny red tie and told a succession of diamond-hard one-liners.

The one-liners were impeccable, unimprovable. Dangerfield spent years on them; he once told an interviewer that it took him three months to work up six minutes of material for a talk-show appearance. If there’s art about life and art about art, Dangerfield’s comedy was the latter — he was the supreme formalist. Lacking inborn ability, he studied the moving parts of a joke with an engineer’s rigor. And so Dangerfield, who told audiences that as a child he was so ugly that his mother fed him with a slingshot, became the leading semiotician of postwar American comedy. How someone can watch him with anything short of wonder is beyond me.

“To be a comedian,” he said, “you have to get onstage and find out if you’re funny.” He wasn’t. During his first career, performing as Jack Roy, he was a singing waiter, used props, tried impressions. Even after his second coming — using a stage name devised by a club owner as a gag — and becoming a regular on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” he could be miserable. In a YouTube clip of him performing on “Sullivan” in 1969, Dangerfield’s face is the unsettling bluish-pink of raw chicken. The jokes — about getting directions, his wife’s driving, their apartment — keep bombing. The setups are too long; the delivery is too slow; the punch lines are so lame that you can hear the scattered laughter of distinct individuals. Even worse, he panders. “I’ll tell you, it’s nice to hear you laugh,” he says at one point. It’s almost unseemly.

In the decade that followed, Dangerfield eliminated everything from his act but the setups and punch lines. In his determination to unlock how they worked, he devised multiple jokes around the same setup, like a composer writing variations on a theme. “When I was born, I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother” might be followed with “I was an ugly kid. When I was born, after the doctor cut the cord, he hung himself.” His body of work is a codex, a “Well-Tempered Clavier” of comedy.

Most comics use the setup and punch line like a nail and hammer, but Dangerfield used them as a theremin player uses her hands, to bring forth strange, unexpected effects. Some were so masterful and odd that they transcended linear logic. My favorite joke of his — “I told my dentist my teeth were going yellow. He told me to wear a brown necktie” — barely makes sense at first. It’s a bewildering piece of misdirection. But it works as a marvel of dream logic, a joke Kafka might have liked.

With other jokes the angle between setup and punch line was so acute that it momentarily stunned the audience, requiring an extra beat to sink in and creating opportunities of timing. You can watch one at the close of a Dangerfield set on the “Tonight” show. It’s Aug. 1, 1979, and he’s at the summit of his craft. As with the very best comedians, the laughter begins before he speaks. His delivery is angry, rapid-fire, leaving the audience no time to recover. The standup portion kills, but everyone knows the better part will happen at the host’s desk, where Johnny Carson, pulling on a cigarette, will gamely set him up.

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