28 October 2022

Doors still closed; gastro isn't (always) funny; Nationals apology and more APS news bites from our hound on the ground

| Mr Smiggle
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Mr Smiggle

Mr Smiggle – your hound close to the ground. Image: Region.

It’s that time of the week again, and what a busy week it’s been.

Here are a few more juicy bits I’ve been able to sniff out while everyone else was distracted by Jim Chalmers, Katy Gallagher and something called a federal budget.

The curse of 50 Marcus Clarke (continues)

I’m starting this week’s correspondence with more about the ongoing saga at 50 Marcus Clarke Street.

I know I’ve been going on about it for some time now, but it has reached the ridiculous stage – and here’s why.

Staff from the Education Department and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (in fact, everyone who works in the building) have been locked out since early August.

Level one was flooded – and not just by a malfunctioning water sprinkler.

The air conditioning unit between the floors collapsed, fell over and gushed truckloads of putrified water all through the office.

Since then, work has been done to repair extensive damage, but an engineer’s report has flagged all sorts of issues.

And no SES is brave enough to sign off the building being cleared for even the shortest periods of office habitation.

50 Marcus Clarke must have a curse on it.

Remember, this is the building whose foundations collapsed while still under construction.

It is also the tower that started swaying dangerously in its early days of occupation, for which Zumba classes on the 12th floor were blamed.

Really? Zumba?

Its only other claim to fame is that, before the current flooding issues, a pet turtle named Squirtle had free rein on the 11th floor courtesy of an over-attentive deputy secretary.

Today, the building’s only notoriety is that staff are more than over the fact they can’t get into the office to work and that no one up the chain appears to be on their game.

In government, there are some topics you donut joke about

We might have a bit of fun with headlines every now and then, but we’re not the government.

Someone in the Health Department should be seriously called to account for making light of a gastro outbreak linked to a Canberra donut shop that left hundreds of people very, very sick.

The Department of Health and Aged Care report was titled: ‘Donuts for weight loss?’

name of report

‘Donuts for Weight Loss?’ Really? Image: Screenshot.

Very funny … except the incident wasn’t funny at all.

There are seven names listed as authors on the document. Which one of them came up with the offensive title?

More to the point – who signed off on this report and thought such a tacky headline was appropriate for such a serious matter?

Did I mention, you’re the government?

READ ALSO ‘Faecal matter’ from sick employee likely behind last year’s doughnut gastro outbreak

No fury like an MP scorned

So I was browsing through a list of podcasts on the weekend hoping for some light entertainment when I stumbled across a new one that immediately grabbed my attention.

Simply called Conversations With Justin, it portrays itself as: “The podcast series that brings you the real stories from Australia’s best thinkers and smartest people.”

That’s a huge boast – and one that worked because I had to find out more.

There’s not much on its website to describe who Justin is, but my dogged snooping uncovered that the podcast host is Canberra-based Justin Lazic, a political lobbyist with strong ties to the Liberal Party.

And his guests include (surprise, surprise) former Liberal Party MPs pontificating about the state of politics, the state of affairs, and the state of just about anything that this clever interviewer can draw them on.

The series’ very first guest was the former Federal Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski, who graciously denies that he’s one of Australia’s ‘best thinkers and smartest people’, but goes on to offer some insightful views and advice.

I tried to ignore that Falinksi rants about “unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats” because he delves into an array of interesting topics such as climate change, nuclear energy, immigration, housing affordability, corruption, Indigenous affairs, and more.

It’s all riveting listening.

But perhaps the best lines came right at the beginning of the hour-long conversation when the host asked him if the Nationals owed the Liberals an apology.

“Yes, they do,” came the reply.

And Falinski’s justification for that statement?

“I think that you can look at somewhere between 15 and 20 seats that are no longer held by the Liberal Party in Australia due to the behaviour of National Party members in North Queensland,” he said.

“I put it down to sheer bloody-mindedness … The National Party generally seems to be run by people who have this victim mentality.”

He even named some of the ‘culprits’, who are all – unlike him – still in parliament, by the way.

Falinksi said the Coalition had “successfully moved climate change as an issue out of the moral universe and into an economic universe” before this year’s election, but the Nationals brought it unstuck.

“Even before it landed, Matt Canavan and Keith Pitt and Bridget McKenzie were doing their best to undermine it as a policy,” he said.

Them’s fighting words.

But considering Falinksi is one of those Liberal MPs who lost his seat to a Teal Independent at this year’s election – becoming the first Liberal Party member to lose the division of Mackellar (remember, that seat was held for 22 years by Bronwyn Bishop) – he’s certainly got a gripe to air.

And for the record, Bridget McKenzie is a Victorian senator and not from North Queensland.

You Am I and a love of books

A whole bunch of senior public servants were spotted out Sunday night at the very classy Tallagandra Hill Winery near Gundaroo.

They were there to see Aussie rock band You Am I’s frontman Tim Rogers perform a solo concert over dinner.

Anyone trying to arrive from the Gunadroo and Bungendore directions had to turn around when they were only a few minutes from the winery because the Yass River had dangerously flooded the road.

So close yet so far away.

Add to that the fact that Murrumbateman Road, which the winery is on, was closed at the Murrumbateman end, meaning the only access after the river flooding was via Poachers Pantry on Nanima Road.

But the effort was worth it, particularly when the scruffy singer with a beautiful voice and poignant songs told his audience that all of his adventure getting to the gig paid off when he saw guests reading books while waiting for the show.

Public servants! Always reading.

Smiggle out!

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