10 November 2022

A wee story from estimates, b-b-b-bad, the old Bailey and more APS news bites from our hound on the ground

| Mr Smiggle
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Mr Smiggle

Mr Smiggle – head of HR at Region Media

It’s been a wild ride in the nation’s capital of late, with lots of newsworthy events and some rip-snorting behind-the-scenes action.

Here’s my take on some of the more leg-watering news stories, as well as some juicy bits I’ve been able to sniff out over the past few days.

Tinkle time

So this is what happens when you move a respected government agency from the nation’s cultured capital and set up camp in a regional hub.

The bosses start peeing over people. Well, one boss, maybe.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority was relocated from Canberra to Armidale, NSW, in 2019 at the insistence of Barnaby Joyce.

He instigated the move when he was deputy PM (no doubt seeking to shore up his reelection chances).

The controversial move, which was actually completed after Barnaby was dumped as Nationals leader – and before his triumphant return, which was before his subsequent dumping again – didn’t all go to plan.

Nevertheless, Armidale is where HQ is today.

Appearing before senate estimates this week, APVMA chief executive officer Lisa Croft was asked by Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson if she was aware of an incident in which a senior executive urinated over other staff at a Christmas party.

The CEO looked a wee bit hurt when asked about it. Her moment of estimates fame had arrived.

She had been informed of an incident that took place at a private function, she answered, not at a work Christmas do.

With continued grilling from the senator and long periods of silence from the CEO, it was revealed that a senior executive was alleged to have discharged his bladder over others at a private party and that some of those people reported the incident to the CEO. HR became involved and the manager subsequently resigned. We could say he “relieved himself” of his duties.

“I understand that the people directly involved wanted me to be aware of the matter,” Ms Croft told the hearing, adding, “there was no official complaint made.”

I say there’s no way this would have happened in Canberra! Let’s blame Barnaby!

(Yes, I am having a bit of a piss-take right now.)

READ ALSO Louise Milligan’s speech to Canberra lawyers gets ABC an estimates grilling

Bad to the bone

Anyone familiar with hard-hitting US boogie-blues rocker George Thorogood (and I know it will only be those of you over a certain age) will know he was recently in Canberra and put on a great show.

What I spied towards the end of the concert, however, was a bunch of quite senior public servants and media types being thrown out of the gig for – wait for it – dancing in the aisles.

I won’t name who those rabble-rousers are because they looked like they were just having a great time and causing no harm to anyone.

Maybe they had each had more than one bourbon, one scotch, one beer (google it), but this puppy saw no signs of inebriation.

The over-enthusiastic ushers at Canberra Theatre seemed to let some concertgoers dance while demanding others sit down. They got more insistent when the ones they sat down got back up again and ignored the orders.

They should know you can’t tell a senior public servant what to do (unless you’re the minister).

Bailed up by Bailey

British comedian, actor, musician and all-around genius Bill Bailey did his own string of concert appearances this week in the nation’s capital.

Genius is an understatement. The brilliance of the man astounded everyone in attendance.

Except for one front-row audience member at the Monday night gig, who called out to pull Bailey up on a comic point he was making.

The comedian was describing how he was once offered a show in the US and told that he would have ten million eyes on him.

Bailey asked the show’s producer what ten million eyes actually meant.

“Is that five million people watching me or ten million pirates?”

Laughter all ’round, until the wag in the front loudly interrupted the show to point out that pirates were people too.

“Oh, we have the president of the Pedantic Society here tonight, do we?” Bailey good-naturedly asked.

“You must be a public servant.”

Lucky guess (probably).

READ ALSO Dutton should learn from Morrison’s gaffe: there’s no easy win bashing the APS

Open door policy

Finally! Finally! The good people who have been locked out of 50 Marcus Clarke Street for three months are being allowed back in the office.

A sprinkler system malfunction and the complete collapse of the air conditioning unit on level one flooded the floor and caused unimaginable damage.

But while repairs had been completed, no one in authority was willing to give it the all clear.

So all staff in the Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations have been locked out since early August.

But from next week they will be allowed to reacquaint themselves with the desks they have missed so much.

This hound has it on good authority that it has only been my dogged pursuit of the matter and my insistence on highlighting the slow progress each week that has got the building reopened at all.

Soft security

Talking about shutting staff out …

The Health Department building in Woden had what security staff described to occupants as a “soft lockdown” on Thursday last week due to an “internal security” issue.

It didn’t last more than a few hours, but I’m on the case.

Smiggle out!

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Very wise words from our hound on the ground Mr Smiggles! I must admit that I am one of those ageing fans of US boogie-blues and Bad to the Bones rocker George Thorogood. I didn’t even know he was in town!

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