One of the early atrocities of Canberra’s creation, which began 100 years ago today, was the official obliteration of much of its extraordinary history. It wasn’t only the the original inhabitants who for decades were written out of the histories by politicians and bureaucrats intent on overseeing a white imperial capital.
The people who built the place also were erased from the recorded past by the removal of buildings and facilities too humble for the grandness the planners wanted.
One consequence has been that Canberra has an artificial past lacking flesh and blood, which has made it easy for non-resident critics to poke fun. Actually, its history has a powerful thread of humanity quite removed from politicians and public servants who have come to represent the city.
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Labor has disembowelled itself and we’re all standing around trying to divine the future from its spilled entrails.
The Opposition capers about in the background, pointing to spots on the liver.
But most of the real world pays this voodoo little mind - they’re focussed on their families, kids, jobs, their problems, their worries, their lives. Has there ever been a bigger disconnect between what matters in people’s lives and what the political chatter is about?
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Ten years ago on the evening of January 18 I was balancing a hose and a camera on the roof of my house as I watched huge helicopter water bombers changing course overhead.
They would scoop water from a nearby dam, drop it on flames about 2km from where I sat, then make the brief flight north to the landmark of the Curtin shops where they banked hard to the south-west to repeat the cycle.
It was 10 years ago that the much-loved fingers of bushland which had previously poked benignly into the urban folds of Canberra became thoroughfares for deadly fires. The bushfires had manoeuvred for the past week at the city’s outskirts, but on that Saturday, January 18, they swept, as if in a co-ordinated attack, down the highly combustible bushland lanes which led to the heart of many suburbs. When the battle for Canberra finally ended a week or so later, 70 per cent of those stretches of prized parklands, plantation forests, and pastures including horse paddocks had been razed or badly damaged.
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We don’t want your babies. I understand that you’re just trying to be a good parent, but seriously, you have to re-think this whole attack the humans thing because WE DON’T WANT YOUR BABIES.
Have you ever been inside a supermarket? If ever you bother to check out Coles or Woolworths or Aldi, you’ll see row after row of food. Some of it’s fresh. Some of it’s pre-packaged and ready to heat and eat. None of it has feathers on it. This is where most of us humans secure our sustenance and we really don’t need to supplement it with your chicks.
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Katy Gallagher, about whom little is known outside the Molonglo tundra of the Australian Capital Territory, is set to become a distinctive political figure nationally.
On Saturday she will be - if opinion poll findings are correct - the first Labor leader elected since Julia Gillard limped home in 2010. And, of great importance to Labor, she could be the first incumbent to defy a Liberal campaign which is based on attempts to frighten the voters.
If she does prevail she could be promoted by her federal colleagues as evidence that scaring the electorate doesn’t always work and can be countered. And that voters are not easily spooked.
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I heard comedian Billy Connolly once refer to the concept of a “blame hound.” This is a breed of dog that lies under the table at large meals to take responsibility for all the subsequent noxious fumes.
Canberra is effectively Australia’s blame hound. Australia sends all their politicians here and then criticises us for the things they do. A lot of Australians don’t even realise that most of the Politicians don’t actually come from Canberra.
Here are the usual words that come up when Canberra is discussed: Cold, Soulless, Roundabouts, Politicians, Public servants and of course Why? Why is a very good place to start.
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Some years ago in the most excellent Sydney suburb of Marrickville I had an accidental and unusual encounter with a sex worker.
It was late on a Friday afternoon and I was queuing up an ATM so I could buy a mountain of Greek takeaway from the Corinthian Tavern. There was a woman in front of me who looked like she’d been around the block a few times. She was stick-thin, wearing black heels, a sequined skirt, a boob tube, and long black gloves which went up to her elbows.
She tried repeatedly to withdraw money from her account, inserting and re-inserting her card. She started sobbing and cursing. I asked her if she needed cash for a cab or something. No, she said, but asked if she could borrow my mobile.
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If Macquarie Bank was capitalism’s “Millionaires Factory,’’ the Labor equivalent, at least in SA, is the powerful Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association which turns out parliamentary careers.
Indeed, click on the party’s SA website where it says “Constitution and Rules’’ and the first thing that comes up is an ad for the shoppies’ union.
The socially-conservative SDA has been extraordinary in the degree to which it has dominated the party, colouring its policies, determining its leadership and personnel, and funding its political campaigns.
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As the winter fog settles over Canberra and the nation’s politicians return to their electorates, there could be no more relieved Australians than the people of Queanbeyan.
Sitting just across the border from Canberra, the city’s small businesses have become a daily stage for the Leader of the Opposition to perform his stunts.
Usually directed against the proposed price on carbon, the hyped-up vitriol is mirrored in broader attacks around the country on anyone who doesn’t support his views whether they be scientists, economists or everyday Australians who dare to believe that dealing with climate change is necessary and urgent.
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If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, for Canberra reporters this weekend the price of vigilance will mean surrendering their freedom - albeit temporarily.
The “lock-up” as it is known in Canberra parlance, will be in play this weekend to release the Government’s carbon tax / emissions trading plan.
Commonly deployed for the federal Budget, they work like this: Reporters agree to shed all communications devices, phones, wireless computer connections etc. and enter a secure windowless room in Parliament House for a period of several hours leading up the official public release of a policy or reform.
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Some 27 Liberal MPs were eating at a restaurant in the Canberra suburb of Kingston last Wednesday when frontbencher Christopher Pyne rose to start a rousing rendition of For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.
There also were speeches, the main one from shadow attorney general George Brandis, and offers of assistance from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey.
The centre of attention was restaurant owner Portia Yeung, who stood by embarrassed, giggling into her hands as is her nervous habit.
The Federal Press Gallery’s Midwinter Ball was last night and this morning Bob Brown will be calculating how much contamination from big business he has received.
Senator Brown, the Greens leader, has attended past Midwinter Balls and to my knowledge has emerged with a smile and no scars.
This year he seemed to have forgotten what it is all about. The venue, the Great Hall of Parliament House, was “insidious”, he said recently. He was forced to dine with corporate executives, and it all resembled a strategy to divide and corrupt the Greens.
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Today marks the centenary of the launch of the competition to design the national capital city of Australia.
On May 24, 1911, Minister for Home Affairs King O’Malley announced an international competition for the design. In 1899, the Colonial Premiers had decided that the permanent capital would be in New South Wales, not less than 100 miles from Sydney, and a Congress was held in Melbourne four months after Federation in 1901 on the planning of a capital.
Dalgety was first chosen as the site of the future capital in 1904, but four years later the Canberra Yass region was selected as a replacement. The site for the Australian Capital Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia in January 1911.
The Property Council of Australia - in one of those surveys aimed at getting their name on every news service - has named Adelaide Australia’s most liveable city.
‘Liveable’ is such a beige term. Talk about damned with faint praise.
They used a bunch of different characteristics such as traffic congestion and housing affordability to judge each capital city.
The fact that Canberra came in second goes to show that having a rockin’ good time wasn’t a criterion. (Oh come on, the Holy Grail doesn’t count).
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Regardless of the outcome of this hung Parliament scenario; business and vested interest groups will be the winners in the medium to long term.
Forget the current wobbliness on the stock exchange and the suspension of investment and trade by some mining companies and multi-nationals; the opportunities posed for those wishing to engage with the independents and the incoming Government far outweigh the risks.
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The past few weeks have given us a mediocre campaign at best and left the electorate cynical. Can there be any other outcome when all both sides can come up with is an exchange of slogans, attention grabbing stunts and petty bickering.
Making sure they say what they believe to be safe and popular while avoiding the risks associated with delving deep into the important issues. Yes, student elections at ANU are all about shallow populism.
Wait… did you think I was talking about another election?
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The torturous negotiations over who can form a Government have taken an interesting twist, with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arriving in Canberra as talks with crucial independents begin.
The former Prime Minister, turned backbencher, turned Labor election campaigner has arrived at the same time crucial talks with rural independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Queenslander Bob Katter are taking place at Parliament House.
While Mr Rudd’s office says his trip to Canberra is not directly related to an attempt to form a Labor Government with the three independents, the former PM has a good relationship with the former independents, and is understood to have contacted Mr Katter on election night congratulating him on his re-election.
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Canberra just got a whole lot more boring.
With their Jedi Council-like wisdom, the ACT Government has banned the social evil that is fireworks from private sale and use in the capital.
While this decision kills off one of the few uniquely Canberran outlets of fun, it’s a pretty interesting ban from a Government that presides over laws that have enabled nobody to be convicted of murder in the last 11 years.
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Today I am a pleased lil’ constituent. ACT Minister for Sport Andrew Barr is standing firm as negotiations with the Australian Football League, for the right to host AFL games at Manuka Oval, become crotchety.
Until recently the negotiations had been unfolding akin to a Beckett script – the AFL thrust into the superior ‘Godot’ role while the Minister slipped obediently into a plausible translation of the masters of mundane, Vladimir and Estragon.
The AFL’s asking price, a hefty $800,000 for the right to host two top flight fixtures, is a $436,000 increase on the current two-year deal which expires this year. The AFL is justifying the cash grab by suggesting that two pre-season and two competition games held in 2008 generated $1.13 million into the ACT economy.
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@Kittu64 That's true. Pretty sure I referred to "high salaried" women.
@michelangeloruc not at all mate it is a great story and photo
@nswpolice very polite and helpful officers manning the Pyrmont road closures this morning
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