DOWN ON THE FARM

Gnarled old countryman Bill Grumble pushed his battered hat back from his forehead and gazed across his acres with narrowed eyes. "It's still pissin' down," he observed to his son Dave. "At this rate every paddock'll be flooded by the end of the week. Nothin'll grow."

"Jeez, Dad," said Dave. "That's no good."

"Yer can't trust them smart-aleck city bastards with their forecasts. What's the name of that galah who was on telly saying it would never rain again?"

"I don't remember, Dad. Was it Eddie McGuire?"

"No, yer drongo. Slattery, Flattery, something like that. Said we were all going to die of thirst in a drought. Drown more likely. Half our best cattle are floating belly upwards. The wheat's been washed away. Even the farm-stay bungalow looks like lifting clear of its slab and floating off. Just as well that family left last week. I'd say we're stuffed. The bank'll take the farm and we'll be out." He raised his voice above a chorus of shrieking and cackling. "Them cockatoos will have the place to themselves."

"Yer've said we was finished before, Dad. Lots of times. But why don't we grow somethink that the rain won't damage? Why don't we whatchamacallit - I saw it in the Weekly Times - why don't we diversify?"

"Into what? Running cruises in the floating bungalow?"

"No, Dad, into somethink - what's that word young Nipper was saying his teacher's always ramming down their throats at school? - sustainable. Something that'll resist the extremes of weather that guy on TV said we can now expect. I remember him now. Faggetty. He was raving on about the need for sustainability."

"If yer arst me that peanut should spend less of his time introducing his best friend to Mrs Palmer and her five daughters."

"I don't get you, Dad,"

"Never mind. But hang on, he did say something, you're right. There was some type of farm he reckoned was going to be all the rage. There were goin' to be subsidies yer can get from the government to set one up. And there were them thingamajigs he said were the powerhouses of the future. He had all them snaps on the programme showing hillsides covered with these huge white things an' yer can sell the wind they produce for helectricity. Subsidies. Gwen, bring us a cuppa. I'm goin' to get the government on the blower."

And so it was decided. Grumble's Farm would become a wind farm. Semi-trailers carrying the giant gawky turbines, so reminiscent of the alien invaders' towers in The War of the Worlds, churned up the mud as they delivered their burden. Several got bogged and had to be winched free by helicopter. But the rain eased, and before long the green paddocks were sprouting their new crop of white towers with vast rotating blades.

Except that they were rotating very slowly. "It's awful still," said Dave, looking up. "There's not much wind."

But there was enough to make a faint eerie whirr from on high. This was suddenly punctuated by a thump from one of the blades and something white and red and squishy landed on Dave's upturned face. "Strewth, it's a cockatoo," he cried, passing his sleeve across his face to wipe away the gore seeping from the avian remains. "It's dead, it looks as though it's been chopped up. And there's another over there. And what's that, a crow? Shit, it's disgusting."

A few weeks later Mr Combet from the Green n' Clean Energy Company called at the farm. "We had hoped for better results than this," he said, pushing an official-looking document across the kitchen table. "There's a statement of your business activity. I'm afraid your generation quota has not been met."

"Where's me cheque for the helectricity?" asked Mr Grumble through a mouthful of scone, spraying the statement with crumbs.

"That's what I'm trying to explain," said the company official. "The poor result means we cannot pay a commission. In fact your installation and rental fees exceed the small amount of energy-generated income. Your account actually has a a negative balance and you will have to pay us rather than the other way round."

Mr Grumble reached for his shotgun. "Dave!" he called.

Dave came in trailing clouds of feathers. He had been minding the turbines and was covered as usual with the remains of minced-up birds. Mr Combet clutched his briefcase to his chest and backed away, colliding with the dresser and sending serried ranks of Gwen's jams and chutneys cascading to the floor. The accident gave Mr Grumble an idea.

"Smear him with the jam, Dave," the old farmer commanded, "It'll be just as good as tar and I'll stick on the feathers. I'll teach him negative balance. Watch for the broken glass, we don't want to be had up for bodily harm."

They pushed the squawking and now feathered functionary out the door, surprising Dave's playful younger brother Nipper in the act of letting down the tyres of the Green n' Clean company Prius. Just for once Mr Grumble seemed to be looking on the bright side. "Them things may not be much good for helectricity but they have sure got rid of our cocky problem." he said. "And I reckon they could bring us in a regular harvest of feathers. Cocky feathers are nice and soft. Maybe we could sell them to some manufackterer for cushions and pillows."

"And for feather doonas, Dad, like Mabel was looking at in the Homemaker catalogue. And the bits of bird we could sell to a cat's meat company. There's enough out there for millions of tins. Unless yer think that Chinese cafe in town..."

25 May 2012

SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS


Cultural carpers who complains that arts grants from public funds always go to producers of modishly pretentious trash who display the correct ideological slant have presumably never tried to apply for a grant from the Arts Encouragement Board of the inner-city municipality of Burchett Hill ("proudly twinned with Pyongyang").

If they had they would discover that compared with that body the Australia Council and other state and municipal funding institutions are a model of even-handed eclecticism. Since the Arts Encouragement Board was set up - "to alleviate," in the words of Burchett Hill mayor Councillor Les Rhiannon, "the plight of local arts talent being suffocated by the need to earn a living" - it has awarded grants to one artist only, "sculptural destructionist" Brett Smale. Smale received 23 separate grants in the financial year 2010-2011 alone.

Yet even in Burchett Hill, where after years of Greens domination of the city council most citizens are inured to opacity in matters relating to public patronage, there has been some opposition to Smale's monopoly of arts grants. Objectors have set up a "Reform the AEB" action group to demand fairer disbursement of municipal arts funds. "I hear what they're saying," said Smale recently, adding that he was "happy to enter into serious cultural dialogue" with those who consider the Burchett Hill system unjust. A few days later two members of the action group found their cars used as the centrepiece of one of Smale's "creative dismantlement tableaux". Another objector was reported missing until discovered trapped inside his home, which Smale had wrapped in tinfoil (under the title "Canned Suburbia" it won an extra municipal award for "redefining our perception of familiar objects"). Yet another noticed that the goldfish had disappeared from the pond in his front garden. He blamed the cat, until they turned up in a vitrine of formaldehyde in the window of an avant-garde Burchett Hill art dealer's with Smale's signature and "$100,000.00" on a discreet card. Several youthful composers, one a practitioner of "soundless music", who had had the temerity to apply for grants rushed screaming from the rehearsal room in the People's Creativity Powerhouse (as the city's arts centre is now known) when Smale exposed them to his multi-person animated performance sculpture "Street Battle in Homs with Rocket Launcher" ("terrifying brilliance, a work of enormous power" - Burchett Hill Bugle).

The AEB's "chair", expensively groomed, bling- and Prada-clad Ms Larissa Heiss, denies there is any unfairness in the way grants are awarded and has labelled critics of the board's assessment procedures "talentless losers". Stepping into her Porsche for the run up to her "weekender" at Palm Beach, Ms Heiss, who in private life is Smale's "partner", said she didn't have time to argue the point now, but that since only $102 was available for distribution in grants this year after her travel and "administrative" expenses had been met and Smale's retainer as artist-in-residence (for the tenth year running) paid, she couldn't see what all the fuss was about and anyway it wasn't her problem. "Blame Howard and his cuts,"she said.

18 May 2012

NEW LIFE FOR HISTORIC BUILDINGS

Argus House, the towering historic edifice which has been for more than a century the editorial home of this blog, is to be converted into apartments. The pinnacled bluestone "chateau" has been empty since Argus staff moved out under a "premises rationalisation scheme" masterminded by the respected "relocation consultants" Philistein & Vandall, who established their reputation advising Australia Post on how to give up its historic buildings and move into shops.

A range of luxury apartments of from one to thirty bedrooms is planned for Argus House in a redevelopment that will also include shopping malls, restaurants, a leisure centre, fitness studios, counselling suites, swimming pools, jogging track, motor-racing circuit and casino. Developer Brian Goth describes Argus House as "a redundant but recyclable gracious old lady who needs some TLC. We're going to fit her for a new lease of life in the twenty-first century." The redevelopment, he says, will see Argus House re-emerge as "a fully sustainable world-class inner-city total living complex Melbourne can be proud of."

Argus House was built in 1891-92 to the designs of English architect Sir Giles Gilbert Crocket in what the National Trust describes as an "imaginative blend of North German Gotisch and Late Spanish Baroque". The twelve-storey structure is notable for its clusters of broached spires which, says the Trust, "confer drama and verve on an otherwise dull corner of the city". The building is protected by heritage legislation ("too little too late," according to critics, "when every other historic building around it was pulled down in the 'sixties") so that the developer will be limited to making "minimal alterations only, compatible with the building's character". The spires would be reinforced  to carry a heliport and some of the interior spaces "tastefully adapted", including the unique fan-vaulted former Editorial Hall, which will house a golf course.

Argus House is the latest in a series of prominent buildings which the demand for inner-city living has seen redeveloped for residential use. Others include the Anglican cathedral, the State Library ("redundant in the post-book world", say Philistein & Vandall), the preserved locomotive and day cars of the 1930s luxury train Spirit of Progress and Government House. Though opposed by "conservative fuddy-duddies", the conversion of this last has been welcomed in a statement from by the Australian Republican Movement, which said it was "high time this public structure became a place where ordinary citizens can live rather than lah-di-dah imperial stuffed shirts in plumed hats" - though how ordinary those citizens will be is a moot point when the price of the smallest mini-studio apartment in the conversion is $3 million. An even more controversial project to convert the Shrine of Remembrance into luxury townhouses is now before the Minister.

Mini-redevelopments are in demand too and the conversion of Con and Melina Stassinopoulos's historic "Blue Aegean" fish shop in High Street, Preston, into "bachelor girl and guy pads" has won an Institute of Architects award "for preserving an unspoiled streetfront and interior redolent of its period". So redolent in fact that some of the bachelor girls and guys have complained about a lingering smell of stale frying oil getting into their hair and clothes. "What else do they expect?" asks the developer. "That's part of the historic charm."

15 May 2012

GAY IS GOOD

If heroic souls get medals for rescuing drowning toddlers and even rescuers of cats up trees get hearty rounds of thanks, what do you get for rescuing a word? Whatever it is, the platinum version should go to Peter Coleman in the Spectator Australia (5 May 2012) who, describing the characteristics of a typical Anzac Day march, writes that the "mood is gay, not solemn" and concludes: "So we re-enact this Australian carnival every year in the sad, gay and rowdy Anzac March." Though I am sure there are not lacking, at comedy festivals or in university departments of "Queer Studies", those who would endorse Coleman's usage if he intended it in the debased modern sense of gay, this indefatigable writer deserves the thanks of everyone who cares about the language for defying the sniggerers and the activists and using this expressive little word as, say, Wordsworth did.

12 May 2012


COAST WATCH

According to the latest edition of the ratepayer-funded junk mail issued by the Port Phillip City Council in Victoria under the title DiverCity (get it?), a local "environmentalist" group called Earthcare St Kilda has discovered that the beaches and waters of Port Phillip, which Argus likes to visit on pleasant days, are full of starfish known as Northern Pacific sea stars.

How nice, you might think. Starfish are harmless and geometrically elegant creatures, always more attractive as objects of contemplation when gently lapped in the shallows than a tetra-pack or condom. It's also very civil of them to come all the way from the Northern Pacific to see us. But no. The sea stars, which - if you were wondering how they got here - "have entered the local ecosystem through the bilge water of cargo ships", are not only that horror of horrors in the bigoted environmentalist's pantheon of hates, an "introduced species", but as "highly successful breeders and voracious feeders with no predator in Australia" [they] "eat native sea creatures out of house and home" and thus "alter the ecology" of the sea at St Kilda. Earthcare volunteers, clearly with nothing better to do, have taken on the predator role themselves faute de mieux, and march around the beach removing the offenders. We are assured by biologists that starfish cannot feel pain, which is fortunate when presumably after being gathered up they are thrown into a waste bin (the Earthcarers making sure they go into the right one and don't get mixed up with the recycling) to dry up and die.

Poor old put-upon island that is Australia. As if the much lamented invasion by "Europeans" hadn't altered its ecology enough without sea stars coming along to wreak their twopence worth of damage. If it's not one thing it's another.

And another there certainly is. Far worse then sea stars is a noxious import not noticed by Earthcare St Kilda for the simple reason that the latter is itself a sub-species of this unwelcome arrival. Fascista verdus insanus, otherwise known as the mad green enviro-crank, was first spotted in northern Europe and the United States in the late 1970s and has since spread through much of the world. In Australia whole colonies infest not only Port Phillip but coastal regions around the country. In fact, the Port Phillip version fossicking around for sea stars is relatively harmless compared to the strain now destroying the amenities of once-attractive beach resorts along the north central coast of New South Wales. There the ecology has suffered two waves of dramatic alteration, first thirty years ago when dopey hippies moved in and colonised the local habitat of family beach shacks and caravan parks, then more recently, by Fascista verdus insanus. These pernicious pests breed most numerously in an environment infected with "green scare syndrome" or as it is sometimes known, climate change fever, which is particularly prevalent on that part of the coast.

The infestation has now reached plague proportions with enviro-cranks in some places such as Byron Bay getting the upper hand in local government. This enables them to, if not quite emulate the sea stars by eating other residents out of house and home, at least be very dictatorial about where the latter build their houses and homes. Anywhere judged too close to the sea is banned (and being close to the sea is surely the whole purpose of being in a coastal resort) because Fascista verdus insanus believes that any day now the seas will rise up and swamp those houses, perhaps carrying them far out into the Pacific. You might think that if the home-owner is prepared to accept that risk it's no one else's business. But when ever did a local council take that hands-off view, even one not stacked with ecomaniacs?

By the way, it does seem to Argus that it's not exactly a fair fight between Earthcare St Kilda and the starfish. The former are much bigger and stronger, though perhaps more equally matched with the latter in intelligence. Might one suggest that when warm weather returns Earthcare St Kilda volunteers pick on someone their own size and devote their beach patrols to removing a much more invasive pest, Navicella louda, or "jet ski". A gaggle of enviro-cranks trying to detach a jet ski from its tattooed and sunglassed shaven-headed owner would be a spectacle to amuse the most jaded observer.

9 May 2012

ARGUS TRAVEL SPECIAL

Australians are among the world's most intrepid travellers. Armed with our Lonely Planet guides to tell us what to beware of in unhealthy foreign climes, we gladly put up with endless hours shoehorned into a tiny seat for the pleasures of seeing the world. And there are none so keen on travel as Argus readers. We asked several of them what they enjoyed most about their trip abroad.


Jamie Coulis, gourmet chef, Melbourne, Vic.
"France was shithouse. Everyone knows that the French are up themselves when it comes to food and wine and think they know the lot. But they don't and I went over and got this job in a restaurant in Paris to help them improve their standards. Frankly, for freshness of ingredients and really innovative cooking you're better off in any Aussie bistro. I tried to show the head chef how I do seared rare rabbit comfit and the retard just didn't want to know, even when I told him I'd won an award in Epicure for it. I couldn't get a work permit so he was able to fire me. The French are so arrogant. I did French to fifth form at De La Salle and they laughed when I tried to tell them in their own language where their mise-en-place was wrong. Then I got food-poisoning and there wasn't an Aussie doctor anywhere. Stuff France. I couldn't wait to get back to St Kilda."

Will Guilfoyle, merchant banker, Balmain, NSW.
"I had a real problem with New York. Every restaurant was a rip-off and everyone in them was getting mugged. And the tipping! Gimme, gimme, gimme, that's all your hear, even from the dude on the information desk at the Stock Exchange. Hey, talk about a materialistic culture! When I swung by Wall Street some occupiers picked my pocket while I was texting and got away with my i-pad and contacts list. I had this major deal coming up worth squillions and I needed the information but when I tried to call the office in Sydney it was a public holiday in Australia and the whole thing went pear-shaped. The last straw was the hotel trying to charge me for the presidential suite when I'd only been in a penthouse one. Talk about greed. I reckon that even under Obama America is finished."

Raelene Hitch, dentist's receptionist, Wanneroo, WA.
"I'm really glad to be home. England was awful. I don't want to sound racist but I had to queue up at immigration for hours while all these foreigners were just waved through. And my great-grandad was in the war!  Every building I saw in London was filthy dirty and you had to pay to go anywhere, even art galleries and St Paul's Abbey which as government properties ought to be free. The English people I spoke to all thought I was from New Zealand - hello? I don't say foosh and choops! - and there wasn't any Australian news on TV. I lost my Lonely Planet on the tube, or someone pinched it more likely. Never again!"

Ray Gibson, retired bank manager and wife Nance ("home duties, definitely not retired!"), Launceston, Tas.
"All we can say is 'never again!' to a so-called cultural tour of Italy. We're getting on a bit and we value comfort. Do you think we could find just one clean sit-down toilet in all the churches and museums we were made to tramp through? The one in the so-called 'luxury' coach was always busy and then blow me down if the driver doesn't announce that the coach is running late and he'll have to make up time by cutting out comfort stops. Nance had her bag snatched in Rome, Naples, Florence and Venice (twice) and the money belt I wear was stolen from the pub while I was having a lay down. The police were worse than useless. Just shrugged their shoulders and said something in Italian. We won't be rushing back there, I can tell you."

Melissa Flannery, environmental sciences student, Melbourne University, Vic.
"The pollution in India is unbelievable. I travelled with a group from Youth For Doing Something About Climate Change and we were just, like, appalled. Every time we got into a taxi the exhaust fumes were everywhere. There were factories pumping out smoke like Kyoto had never been. It was all so, you know, unsustainable. My dad had paid for us to stay in a rajah's palace and the marble was being literally eaten away by acid rain. I just thought, it's great what Julia Gillard is doing about the carbon tax and everything because otherwise that's what would be happening in Australia. And the poverty! Think Slumdog Millionaire times ten. An old guy who was some sort of government official told us the poverty was declining because of greater industrial prosperity, but if those factories poisoning the atmosphere are the price of that, I know what I'd choose."

Ken Joyce, unisex hairdresser, South Yarra, Vic.
"Well just let me tell you Amsterdam has become so intolerant. I met this gorgeous Dutch man in a chat room and he asked me to go over there but when I arrived feeling like God knows what after a lifetime in cattle class he said we couldn't go out as a couple because if we were seen together in the street we'd be attacked by gay-bashers. Apparently there are all these gangs of African homophobes everywhere and the gay scene has just been trashed. Hendrik had his car set on fire, actually it wasn't his own car it was his rich ex-boyfriend's Lamborghini and he was minding it while the ex-boyfriend was in Mykonos and he said there'd be hell to pay. Most of the clubs in the Spartacus guide have been vandalised and lots have closed down. All we could do was stay in Hendrik's apartment and, you know how it is, after a time you start to get on each other's nerves. It's a real shame. You used to be able to do anything in Amsterdam, you know, even in public parks and places, but not any more. I couldn't wait to get back to Oz. I went straight to the Laird and it's never looked so inviting."

Peter Smugley, National Trust committee person, Adelaide, SA.
"I adore historic architecture but I have to say I found Greece extremely disappointing. The Greeks have got a lot to learn from us about the way they look after their built heritage. They're years behind even in terms of the most basic conservation. Of course the Euro crisis has knocked the country sideways. All its historic heritage is falling down from neglect. As a person opposed to cultural imperialism naturally I think the Poms should give back the Elgin Marbles but not before the Greeks have learned how to look after them. Would I go back to Greece again? No way, until they get their act together. It's 'Tasmania's Georgian Glories' for my next holiday!"

Phyllis Spry (Miss), retired primary teacher, Gympie, Qld.
"Our cruise on the Medusa was a disaster from beginning to end. Halfway through something went wrong with the ship and we were transferred to a much inferior vessel where they managed to lose all my luggage. The food was very poor and cabin service non-existent. Several passengers left us during the trip as a result of the shocking conditions. As they say in the classics - never again!"

5 May 2012


THE GLORIOUS FIRST OF MAY


May Day was observed in appropriate style this morning in the inner-city municipality of Burchett Hill ("proudly twinned with Pyongyang"). As in past years the Mayor, Councillor Les Rhiannon (Greens Party), took the salute from the balcony of the Town Hall as massed cohorts of council employees marched through Chavez (formerly Civic) Square.

The stirring tones of the "Internationale" played over and over again by the Burchett Hill Wind Farm Technicians' (formerly Colliery Workers') Band set everyone in the right mood. It was somewhat disappointing that local ratepayers were almost entirely absent but the large number of official participants, all loyally cheering, to some extent made up for what Councillor Rhiannon called "this calculated snub by an outdated class of petit bourgeois to working people and their elected representatives". He hinted that a retaliatory "rates hike" might be coming in the former's direction.

The May Day parade demonstrated once again that Burchett Hill is a "major power" among municipal councils with its ever-expanding army of employees, "the front-line troops of council's presence in the community", as the Mayor put it in his speech. Staff numbers are up this year in all key municipal departments. The city's Diversity Unit, for example, whose principal function is to eliminate the few surviving traces of Burchett Hill's "Anglocentric" past - a proud recent achievement is the "recycling" of the King George VI Memorial Infant Welfare Centre as a Museum of Postcolonial Shame and the unit has recommended that English no longer be an official language in the municipality - was represented by 1400 marchers. The large contingent from Waste & Recycling (Enforcement) Services, some wheeling their range of colourful bins, others proudly holding aloft their calculators for issuing on-the-spot fines for breaches of "bin etiquette", showed that that department too is an important municipal growth area. It was unfortunate that the marchers' progress was partly obstructed by mounds of uncollected rubbish after a month-long strike by the contract staff who are supposed to implement Waste & Recycling's complicated refuse-disposal "strategies" by actually emptying the bins.

The Animal Management contingent was also well up on previous years, mainly as a result of council's decision to extend the range of "registrable pets" to include cage birds, lizards and goldfish (in- or outdoors) and certain categories of spider (for example to register a huntsman, even if it only appeared one evening on the ceiling and was not "purchased or otherwise procured" by the ratepayer, now costs $45). New staff have been recruited as council "animal wardens" with the right to enter any abode to ensure that "domestic pet regulations" are complied with. Also in the parade for the first time was a phalanx of additional desk personnel employed to administer council's policy of applying a "registration surcharge" for non-indigenous pets.

Parking & Vehicular (Restrictions) staff were also on parade in healthily increased numbers. More than a hundred new employees have had to be taken on to cope with "infrastructure issues" deriving from the fact that there is less traffic than ever in Burchett Hill, mainly on account of the anger and frustration caused to motorists by the constant revision of council's "Road Users' Circulation Masterplan". Under this visionary document those few streets in the municipality not blocked by rockeries are no sooner designated one-way than they are redesignated in the opposite direction, often several times in the same day. A key element of the masterplan is the progressive implementation of a "no standing" zone across the whole of Burchett Hill, with the exception of councillors' parking spaces around the Town Hall.

The biggest contingent of all in this year's parade was Environment & Sustainability with 2320 marchers. Their numbers were swelled by schoolchildren recruited into council's "Kids' Enviro-Guerrillas" programme, which rewards young people for the number of "introduced" plants and shrubs they can uproot in public parks and even, such is the zeal of youthful activists, private gardens. A number of junior marchers were carrying the results of their efforts, brandishing the stumps of rhododendron and camellia bushes like trophies in war. Residents who have complained about this invasion of their property are "advised" as a condition of "continuing to receive council services" to undergo counselling in "approved horticultural selection" and offered a small discount to stock their gardens with "attractive grasses and other colourful natives" from the council nursery.

By contrast with the "big guns" among council departments, some of the major contingents of previous years were down in numbers. Aged Care, the division of Health Services that arranges free meals for senior citizens, was represented in the march by just three elderly volunteers. The department has been "downgraded" at the behest of Councillor Rhiannon, who, echoing the philosophy of his hero the Great Helmsman towards older people, believes that "council has much more worthwhile things to spend its money on than shovelling food into ancient mouths". Similarly reduced is the erstwhile Public Libraries Department, now Burchett Hill's "Printed Word Access Resource". It was represented by one marcher only, "resource person" (previously librarian) Ms Deirdre Kindle, all other staff having been replaced by "electronic information providers".

As in past years, seasoned council-watchers were particularly attentive to the line-up of councillors on the balcony to see who's in and who's out in the Burchett Hill hierarchy of power. Conspicuously absent was Councillor Randy Thompson, until recently the senior officer in council Health Services, who has been accused of "siphoning off" savings from the cutbacks in Aged Care to fund his visits to The Happy Lash, an "S&M lounge" in Burchett Hill's red-light district. Also absent was Councillor Peter Shoe, secretary to council, suspended pending an investigation into "unrealistic" expenses claims for tram and bus tickets and bicycle hire "totalling tens of thousands of dollars". It is to be hoped that both will be back on the balcony next year. A third notable absentee was local churchman Canon Owen Featherhead, who has been replaced as mayor's chaplain by Imam Ibn al Choppa-hedoff Poofa of Burchett Hill Mosque. Council-watchers noted that in the official line-up, "cross-dressed" Councillor Jeremy Floris, who is responsible for the Diversity Unit's Gay, Lesbian and Otherwise Gendered Outreach programme, several times changed his position to keep as many other councillors as possible between himself and the Imam, whose eagle glare appeared to make him nervous.

1 May 2012