Great sports, painful PM

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THERE’S a good cou­ple of lines in the clas­sic BBC TV com­edy, Yes Min­is­ter, that talks about coura­geous de­ci­sions.

It is rel­e­vant here be­cause Mayor Jenny Hill has just made one of them.

Bu­reau­crat Sir Humphrey Ap­pleby ( Nigel Hawthorne) tells his col­league Bernard Wool­ley ( Derek Fowlds) that if you want to be really sure the Min­is­ter doesn’t ac­cept a course of ac­tion, you must say the de­ci­sion is coura­geous.

Bernard asks: “And that’s worse than con­tro­ver­sial?” To which Sir Humphrey replies: “Oh, yes, con­tro­ver­sial only means this will lose you votes. Coura­geous means this will lose you the elec­tion.”

Not that an elec­tion is im­mi­nent – at least for the coun­cil.

Cr Hill has un­til 2020 be­fore that oc­curs, which might be why she ei­ther ig­nored her ad­vis­ers or be­lieved enough time would elapse so peo­ple would largely for­get her coura­geous de­ci­sion.

But com­mit­ting up to $ 18.5 mil­lion of ratepay­ers’ money to build an air­port in Isaac Shire near Cler­mont for a sup­pos­edly ex­tremely wealthy com­pany build­ing a coal mine is coura­geous.

If Townsville were not in up­roar now over dra­co­nian wa­ter re­stric­tions, de­spite hav­ing to pay for a re­source which it is un­able to use, it is now likely in out­right re­volt.

Peo­ple are con­fused enough about a coun­cil un­will­ing to pump wa­ter from the Haughton, be­cause of the ex­pense, and yet pre­par­ing to build an­other one. Now they will be dumb­founded. Townsville is se­cur­ing hun­dreds of jobs by shar­ing the air­port costs and fly- in fly- out rights with Rock­hamp­ton.

Ap­par­ently there will be some kind of post­code de­mar­ca­tion in job se­lec­tion.

Cr Hill re­ferred to a “fine” or “re­bate” Adani will have to pay if it doesn’t de­liver but de­tails are thin on the ground.

Ratepay­ers have a right to know ex­actly how this will work and that there will be a re­turn on the dol­lars spent. THIS year’s Bathurst 1000 brought out the best with true char­ac­ters win­ning the race and in­spir­ing mil­lions along the way.

The win by Holden’s David Reynolds, Luke Youlden, their team Ere­bus Mo­tor­sport and it’s great owner Betty Kli­menko was one we’ll re­mem­ber for a long time.

Their win was noth­ing but hard work, ta­lent and pas­sion for the sport and the peo­ple who love it.

Reynolds is a star, a lar­rikin and a sports­man who re­fuses to wear the cor­po­rate straight jacket. He speaks his mind, has fun and has put a ton of ef­fort into be­com­ing a cham­pion.

Youlden won the race at his 18th at­tempt and is a re­minder to us all to never give up, while Kli­menko is a su­per­star. Su­per­cars should shine the bright­est spot­light on her. Betty’s life story is amaz­ing, but her pas­sion for the sport and the peo­ple in her team is phe­nom­e­nal.

The day af­ter the race I spoke to them for Sky News. But it wasn’t with­out a re­minder of some of the stu­pidi­ties that try to snuff out the things that make these guys great.

We ar­ranged to meet at the Syd­ney Opera House for the in­ter­view and from the sec­ond they got out of the car they were mobbed by school kids, race fans and a load of peo­ple who wanted to have photo.

They brought the Peter Brock tro­phy with them and gladly handed it to any­one who wanted to hold it as they took a snap with the win­ners.

It was a won­der­ful scene, not of fame, but of how sport can in­spire a good­will politi­cians would give their right arm to bot­tle.

But out the cor­ner of my eye came the sight of a se­cu­rity guard who de­scended on the scene to break up this spon­ta­neous mo­ment to query if we had a per­mit to film there.

“Come off it,” I said. “They just won Bathurst and we want to talk to them at one of the great pub­lic build­ings we all own.”

But no, we didn’t have the pa­per­work.

So with Brock tro­phy in hand we were shunted to not just the bol­lards that guard us against ter­ror­ists, but three me­tres be­yond where the se­cu­rity guard’s au­thor­ity ended.

It was un­nec­es­sary and a frankly em­bar­rass­ing re­minder of the nanny state we now live in.

Mean­time, we all know politi­cians try to use sport to pump their own polls. On Mon­day, Prime Min­is­ter Malcolm Turn­bull filmed him­self talk­ing to Nathan Walker, the first Aus­tralian to pro­fes­sion­ally play hockey in Amer­ica’s Na­tional Hockey League.

It’s four of the most painful min­utes of tape I’ve seen. Turn­bull has no idea who this bloke is and has vir­tu­ally noth­ing to say to him.

Af­ter a cou­ple of min­utes of the small­est of small talk, Turn­bull asked Walker if he’s met Aus­tralia’s am­bas­sador to the US, Joe Hockey.

Hockey, get it? He plays hockey and am­bas­sador’s name is Hockey.

It was all just skin crawl­ingly awk­ward stuff.

Fun­nily enough, Turn­bull never tweeted or called Reynolds, Youlden or Kli­menko af­ter win­ning Bathurst.

Now, you’d think if he was go­ing to fake an in­ter­est in sport, it might be the one that we Aus­tralians ac­tu­ally watched on Sun­day.

But then again, can you imag­ine how em­bar­rass­ing that call would have been too? “So ... um ... Bathurst ... yeah.” Join­ing Paul on the pro­gram this Mon­day are Gra­ham Richard­son, Ross Cameron and Ja­nine Per­rett.

CHAMPS: Luke Youlden, Betty Kli­menko and David Reynolds. Pic­ture: TOBY ZERNA

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