Federal Politics


At last, tedious sagas capped

It's nice to have the desk cleared just a little bit before the end of the year.

We have seen the end, we dare to hope, of two ACT political sagas that had grown downright tedious for nearly everyone.

First, the famous Megalo Print studio walked away from its ambition to move into Kingston Foreshores magnificent Fitter's workshop, agreeing instead to temporary nearby digs and ultimately a new custom-built home, a brand spanker.

Not a bad deal really and a whole lot better than another couple of years trying to overcome Canberra's deceptively formidable choral music lobby which staked a claim on the old shed a couple of years ago, after discovering its unique musical qualities.

They play pretty rough, those choristers, as any journo in the town will tell you. They had political backing and many of them had time on their hands, time enough to make enough noise to ensure that Megalo wouldn't be moving into that shed.

There was civil war in Canberra's arts scene, with no one allowed to fly neutral colours and howls for the government to "do something''.


In the dying days of the seventh Assembly, the political deadlock between the Liberals and the Greens (lining up with the choristers) and Labor (determined to a Jon Stanhope's deal with Megalo) threatened to develop into the closest thing the ACT can have to a constitutional crisis.

Eventually Katy Gallagher brokered a behind-the-scenes truce which led to Tuesday's public announcement from Megalo that it was prepared to accept the alternative, and from a taxpayer's perspective expensive, deal.

It was probably the best thing for everyone to step back, take a breath and put this thing in perspective.

The choral people now have another hall in which to sing and Megalo will have its new home.

"Fitters Workshop for Everybody" was the musical lobby's war cry during the struggle. We'll see.

This week also brought news that Liberal young 'un Alistair Coe was unsuccessful in his attempt to get the Ombudsman to find that former Speaker Shane Rattenbury had been perfectly beastly in making Coe and his colleague Vicki Dunne repay three grand in taxpayers' money that they'd used getting themselves re-elected.

The complaint has been in the Ombudsman's lap since late June. Alison Larkins, acting in the gig, found in August what was pretty obvious to most observers, that she didn't have the jurisdiction to investigate the actions of the Speaker of the Assembly.

But she would investigate the Assembly's secretariat, the office which advises the Speaker on the technical side.

So even in its early stages, Alistair's political attack on Rattenbury had veered wildly off course and the Office of the Clerk of the Assembly wasn't a bit pleased to be under investigation for just doing its job.

But it was no surprise to learn this week that the newish Ombudsman Colin Neave has quietly walked away after it was made abundantly clear by the Clerk's office that Neave would find out what the inside of a Supreme Court room looks like in a jurisdictional challenge designed to stop any precedent being set in this difficult area.

Case closed.

We hope.