ACT News


In-laws, the French revolution, cricket and tinkering with cars: Canberra MLAs on holiday

While Malcolm Turnbull has had an eventful holiday break with bushfires in Victoria, two ministerial resignations and the final report of the royal commission into trade unions handed down, acting ACT Chief Minister Simon Corbell has luxuriated in relative quiet in Canberra with little to interrupt the holiday week.

Andrew Barr headed north before Christmas to spend time on the north coast of NSW with the family of his partner, Anthony Toms. The pair also planned time on the NSW South Coast before returning to Canberra for New Year's Eve. In the coming days, Mr Barr will head to Sydney for the test cricket, a chance to not only indulge an interest but to continue his push to have Canberra included on the test-match circuit, and before returning to work on January 11, he plans to paint a fence and "catch up on the year's best films, books and TV".

Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson also headed to the in-laws' coast home in the holidays, but in his case it was for an annual house swap with his wife's family. They came to Canberra; Mr Hanson and his wife and two sons took up residence at Bateman's Bay. His plans? The beach, a few rounds of golf with a keen friend and playing his guitar. He only had room for the "half-sized" guitar as the last thing to go into a packed car, but planned nevertheless to put it to good use learning Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

The Canberra Times asked each of the ministers for their holiday plans, and most, it seemed, simply wanted to relax at home.

Yvette Berry planned to spend time with her young children, going to the movies and swimming at Lake Ginninderra, get some exercise and tackle a backyard that she said had barely been touched in three years.

Car and bike enthusiast Mick Gentleman didn't reveal whether the Summernats car festival was on his holiday schedule, but said he would spend time "tinkering with cars and bikes in the shed".


Mr Corbell nominated holiday reading, planning to read Hilary Mantel's 1992 A Place of Greater Safety, a historical novel set in the French revolution.

Mr Barr's summer reading, posted on his Facebook page, is heavy on autobiography - Stephen Fry's More Fool Me, the recently published memoirs of entertainers Magda Szubanski and Molly Meldrum; the memoir of soundman Glyn Johns, who produced Barr's favourite, the Rolling Stones, among others; and George Megalongenis's Australia's Second Chance, which argues the importance of immigration to Australia's future.


Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury was in Canberra for most of the holidays with family, before heading to Jindabyne early in the new year with his triathlon club for a training camp.

Mr Barr's return on January 11 signals the beginning of a frantic year, with a ministerial reshuffle, a decision about the future of troubled minister Joy Burch, and possibly also an indication of the retirement plans of Labor backbencher Mary Porter all before the Assembly sits on February 9.

Soon after, the government is expected to announce the consortium to get the contract to build and operate the tram, with construction to begin before the election, and in the first few months of the year Mr Barr will be putting the finishing touches to a new five-year plan for taxes and rates before delivering his election budget at the beginning of June.

Also in the first months of the year, the Liberals will settle on their team to contest the election they hope will finally deliver them government after 15 years on the opposition benches.