17 November 2022

What an impact the secret service has on a crowded house: more APS news bites from our hound on the ground

| Mr Smiggle
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Mr Smiggle – head of HR at Region Media. Image: Region.

Mr Smiggle here with another round of gossip, reflections and juicy bits from around the public service (and beyond). Enjoy this week’s read.

Impactful reaction

Defence Minister Richard Marles was the source of much merriment at Defence headquarters in Russell last week, thanks to a new term he’s coined and seemed eager to share.

The Minister was the guest of honour on the morning of Tuesday, 8 November, at a Submarine Institute of Australia conference being held at the Realm Hotel in Canberra.

A highlight of the day, and a much-anticipated session, was when Marles (who is also the Deputy Prime Minister), joined the institute’s president Michael Fitzgerald for a half-hour conversation in front of the eager and attentive audience.

While discussing the Defence Strategic Review, the Minister dropped the term “impactful projection” into the chat.

“I think increasingly we’re going to need to think about our Defence Force in terms of being able to provide the country with impactful projection,” Marles said.

“Impactful projection, meaning an ability to hold an adversary at risk, much further from our shores, across kind of the full spectrum of proportionate response.”

And then: “Impactful projection is, I think, actually where we need to be going and once you think about that; what capability do we have right now which enables us to do that?

“Well, actually, there’s a lot of work we need to do, but a long-range capable submarine does impactful projection more than any other platform that we have within our Defence Force right now.”

The Minister repeated the term another time or two during the conversation and did well to outline where he sees his new defence doctrine headed.

But across the lake at Defence HQ, the laughter is still heard a week later.

“Submarines, which are already phallic enough, being described by the Minister as providing impactful projection, we can’t stop laughing,” one Defence type told this hound.

“It just sounds so wrong. What was he thinking?”

Well, the Minister’s words certainly had an impact.

READ ALSO RAAF set to decide on next combat aircraft

Secret service

And you thought you’d heard the last from me about 50 Marcus Clarke Street now that staff have been allowed back into the building after being locked out for three months.

Well, think again.

It seems while employees from the Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations were told since August that the building – which was somewhat wrecked from flooding from water sprinklers and collapsed air conditioning – was unsafe for occupation, it was a different story for the bosses.

A cohort of Senior Executive Service officers has been secretly meeting and getting on with their work in the building for some weeks.

Yes, the SES have been working in the building while not allowing their ‘pesky’ staff inside, refusing to give the building the all-clear.

One rule for the masses and another for the top dogs.

They love that word ‘cohort’, by the way.

READ ALSO Trust in public service high, but lowest among community’s most vulnerable

Crowded legacy

Regular readers of this column will by now have an idea that I love live concerts and get regularly smiggled into some great events here in the capital.

So it was last Friday night when the long-awaited, COVID-postponed Crowded House concert got underway at the outdoors Stage 88.

Being by the lake, frontman Neil Finn (who’s still got it, BTW) repeatedly praised the setting and the beautiful surroundings as the natural light faded away.

“Walter Burley Griffin got it right, didn’t he?” Finn said to loud applause.

“You Canberrans love Walter Burley Griffin, don’t you?”

The crowd roared.

Finn even replaced a few song lyrics on the spot by throwing the Burley Griffin name into a verse or two, garnering much laughter from the audience.

But it was bassist Nick Seymour who gave everyone a short history lesson.

Besides being a brilliant musician and very energetic on stage, Seymour is quite the amateur historian and student of culture.

These days he lives in Ireland, but he’s still a Melbourne lad at heart.

“Capitol Theatre and Newman College, both in Melbourne, were designed by Walter Burley Griffin too,” Seymour said.

“So he’s not just yours here in Canberra, you know.”

Yes he is. Back off, Nick!

Smiggle out!

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Andrew McLaughlin3:42 pm 18 Nov 22

I was working at the Hyatt in Canberra late one night in c.1989 when the three guys from Crowded House rocked up in a van without a reservation. We accommodated them – a nicer, most un-rockstar-like bunch of rockstars I am yet to meet!

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