Ready to roll for POTUS
Bureaucratic wheels are turning for the arrival of the President of the United States. Barack Obama's visit is timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty between Australia and the United States.
It will be Obama's third attempt to make it to Australia in his capacity as US president. Two previous trips were cancelled because he had to stay in the US to deal with domestic issues.
But it seems things are moving forward for this trip. Transport for the President's delegation has been secured and the ACT Government has approved 35 vehicles to carry the POTUS's entourage.
Among the vehicles from NSW and the ACT is one with unusual number plates which spell out REBECCA. According to the ACT Government website, a delegate of the the Road Transport Authority approved the fleet.
''The accredited hire car operator, Canberra Region Tours Pty Ltd, may use the authorised vehicles listed in clause 3 (2) as hire cars to transport passengers along a road or road related area for the specific purpose of providing transport for the delegation of the President of the United States of America during his visit to the ACT.''
The vehicles have been given the rights until November 18. But there is no word whether the presidential car - a GMC Topkick-based, Cadillac-badged limousine often referred to as The Beast - is coming Down Under.
Obama will be in Canberra on November 17 and has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Julia Gillard to address Parliament.
Bowling 'em over
PRIME Ministerial partner Tim Mathieson, pictured in action, led his First Bloke's XI to a close defeat at the hands of the Australian Transplant Cricket Club at the weekend.
The one-day match held at Phillip Oval in Woden on Sunday attracted a number of notable spectators, including Robyn Hookes, widow of the famous Australian cricketer David Hookes, who died in 2004. Mrs Hookes's decision to donate her husband's organs led to the creation of the David Hookes Foundation.
Mrs Hookes recently toured Britain with the Australian Transplant Cricket Club, which defeated their English counterparts to bring home the David Hookes Memorial Shield. Mrs Hookes said the organ donation campaign she helped support was not about raising money, but awareness.
''David knew that he wanted to donate his organs ... I think I would have been too scared to do that without that knowledge ... He made that very easy,'' Mrs Hookes said.
She wants to encourage other families to have the discussion, even if the decision is not to donate. ''If you had a loved one, a child, whoever, who needed an organ transplant, you would want every Australian registered to donate. Until it touches your life, you don't really think about,'' she said.
The ''First Bloke'' selected his team from local cricketers, including two female players, and a few personal friends.
The First Bloke's XI notched up 115 runs, but could not match the Transplant Team's 136. Mathieson scored 18 runs and took three wickets. Every player on the Transplant Team has received a lifesaving organ transplant.
FROM one iconic Australian sporting personality to another. Olympic swimming coach Laurie Lawrence was in Canberra yesterday, pictured, reminding kids of the importance of water safety. Lawrence, who started his Kids Alive Do the Five water safety show in 2000 (although the program has been going since 1988) was at Belconnen High School to spread the message before summer begins in earnest.
The program aims to prevent children under the age of five from drowning. Last year 28 children under five drowned in Australia, down from 33 in 2009.
''If that happened on a single bus in Lake Burley Griffin, there wold be an outcry,'' Lawrence said. ''But it happens here and there and so it's not a story.''
He said another 600 children suffer brain damage from near drownings each year. ''It's so vitally important to educate children and their parents. We choose to educate parents via children.''
The tour will visit more than 40 country towns to stress water and pool safety. More than 450 Canberra children attended the show.
''It's important to push the Kids Alive message before the most dangerous part of the year,'' Lawrence said.
The swimming legend dreams the five-rule slogan in his sleep. ''Fence the pool, shut the gate; teach your kids to swim - it's great; supervise - watch your mate, and learn how to resuscitate.''