Bondi Beach closed to the public?

Bondi Beach was once almost closed to the public, and it had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia’s most famous beach was nearly lost to the public as far back as the 1880s.

Bondi Beach did close for a period of time in 2020 when many public spaces throughout Sydney were closed, and after hundreds of people flocked to the beach during warm autumn weekends despite requests from health authorities to stay at home and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The last time Bondi and nearby beaches had been hidden behind wire fences was during WWII. The mere notion of closing a beach incensed many Eastern Suburbs locals and fellow Sydneysiders, who regard beaches as an egalitarian sanctuary and a birth right to all Australians.

Their fierce reaction to the COVID closures reflects their emotional attachment to sand and surf. These feelings are put in context when considering that not even WWII closed Bondi. Military fortifications such as barbed wire, concrete tank traps, wire coils and iron stakes were installed on the golden sands, but swimming was still permitted. Swimmers at Bondi did have to negotiate a wire maze which was nicknamed the ‘rat run’, but they were not banned from entering the water in the 1940s as they were during autumn 2020.

Many swimmers must have regretted their decision to take a dip during the war, because Japanese submarines later breached a defence boom and launched bombs which exploded at Bondi, Rose Bay and Woollahra. Many swimmers were also rushed to Bondi Beach Public School first aid post to be treated for cuts and bruises.

Temporary closure

Short-term closures are not uncommon at Bondi. In August 2018 the beach was closed after the body of a whale calf washed ashore and had to be removed. The presence of the whale calf also increased the risk of shark activity and the sighting of the ocean’s apex predator will often close beaches.

Bondi lifeguards are cognisant of the dangers of big swells and strong currents after five people drowned and hundreds had to be rescued on February 6, 1938, which has since been known as Black Sunday.

Permanent closure

Whale carcasses, shark sightings and dangerous surf have closed Bondi Beach temporarily, but not permanently. A permanent closure almost came into effect in the 1880s.

The land around Bondi Beach was originally granted to road builder William Roberts as far back as 1809. In those days, Bondi was far from a tourist haven and an exclusive Sydney suburb. Limited access and transport meant that very few people ventured to the beach. Even in 1851, the beach was still sat a long way from the city, so Edward Hall and Francis O’Brien were able to purchase 200 acres in Bondi which encompassed most of the beach frontage. Modern-day Sydneysiders would die for such water views. The new owners named the land ‘The Bondi Estate’.

Perhaps this is the first recorded evidence of ‘Brand Bondi’

Between 1855 and 1877, O’Brien began buying sections of the estate from Hall, who was his father-in-law. Soon, O’Brien owned all of the land and renamed the area ‘O’Brien Estate’. Initially, the new owner was happy to share the property and the beach with the public and it became popular as a picnic ground and an amusement resort.

Then problems arose.

O’Brien felt that the beach and the surrounding area were becoming too popular and he threatened to stop public beach access. After much discussion among the people of Sydney, the Municipal Council contacted the government with the message that the beach must remain open to the public. As a result, Bondi Beach became a public beach on June 9, 1882.

The public were allowed to enjoy the beach, but it didn’t mean they would swim. In fact, daylight bathing was considered immoral and scandalous behaviour until the ban was lifted in 1903, and Bondi Surf Club was not established until 1906.

Since the tramway to the beach was completed in 1884, visitor numbers have increased year after year and Bondi is undoubtedly the most visited beach in the country. In 1929 it is estimated that 60,000 people were visiting the beach on any given Saturday or Sunday in summer.

Interestingly, Waverley Council currently faces another challenge to keep the entire beach open to the public. A business groups wants to establish a private, European-style beach club at one section of the beach in 2021, which would charge about $AU80 per person for entry.

While the private club would restrict entry to only about 2% of the famous stretch of sand, the proposal has divided opinion among Bondi locals and Sydneysiders. Some people believe the club will boost the local economy and add vibrancy to the space after the restrictions of COVID-19, while others claim that forcing people to pay to go to a beach is simply ‘UnAustralian’.

Sydneysiders will soon find out if they must once again fight to keep Bondi beach open.

Image: http://www.timeout.com

Democracy and the future of major sporting events.

Will major sporting events soon be held only in non-democratic countries?

International sporting events such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup may take place only in countries without genuine democracy as governments in democratic countries struggle to justify to their populations the exorbitant cost of hosting these events. Authorities in non-democratic countries, on the other hand, do not need to justify anything to their subjects.

The citizens of democratic nations are increasingly aware of the enormous financial costs and disruption required to host international competitions. The same people are also aware of the lack of funding directed towards more immediate needs in their countries such as schools, universities, hospitals and other infrastructure.

Do major sporting events make a profit?

The question is not so much whether major sporting events make a profit, or if they benefit countries in other ways. The question is whether governments can persuade their populations that the events make a profit or benefit the nation.

Can governments continue to justify the construction of enormous sporting stadia when government schools are underfunded?

Can governments continue to justify accommodating the world’s athletes when hospitals are underfunded?

Can governments justify spending $118 million on opening or closing ceremonies when public transport is insufficient or non-existant?

Brazil highlighted this contradiction recently. The country hosted both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 despite a struggling economy, a broken public health system, grossly underfunded public schools and crumbling infrastructure. Many educated Brazilians are still waiting for the promised economic and social benefits of these two events. Many South Africans have undoubtedly been asking the same questions since 2010.

Volunteers

Have you ever volunteered at a major sporting event?

Would you volunteer at a major sporting event?

As everyday people learn more about the corruption and lavish lifestyles of the officials at major sporting organisations, surely they will be less inclined to jump into a garish uniform and stand for hours outside a train station directing fans to venues – for no pay.

Many volunteers have thankless jobs. They never see a moment of sport. The never see their sporting heroes in person. In return, they get to keep their uniform and receive a generic thankyou letter from a random politician. Major sporting events cannot go ahead without an army of volunteers. Could FIFA or the IOC afford to pay every volunteer at one of their international events?

Rulers of non-democratic nations, meanwhile, are better able to persuade citizens to volunteer.

Patriotism

Patriotism drives many volunteers to offer their vital services, but will it be enough in the future?

Patriotism drove young people to volunteer for the army in World War I for example, but many of today’s youth do not share this patriotic fervour. Can the same shift in attitude be applied to the sporting sphere, and would young people choose to volunteer for a sporting event?

Volunteers at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games spoke of their national pride, and continue to reference this as a motivation and reward for volunteering at the games. I myself experienced some of this patriotism when I volunteered. That said, I volunteered in the media, with the best seats in the house, at the Athletics, and spent the games interviewing athletes. I also sat on the finish line, a few rows back, when Cathy Freeman won gold. Most volunteers were not so lucky.

Patriotism also persuaded many Brazilians to eventually support, or at least stop criticising, the hosting of the 2014 World Cup. The government was canny enough to know that the country’s obsession with the world game would eventually silence many of its critics. This enthusiasm surely waned when they lost 7 – 1 to Germany on home soil.

The public is also much more likely to congratulate or tolerate a government’s decision to host a major event in that country wins. Winning elite sporting competitions also costs a lot of money.

Patriotism will still persuade many citizens to support international competitions in the future. Australians were elated to hear that their country will share the FIFA Women’s World Cup with New Zealand in 2023, but by that time will Australia still be a democracy?

A quick internet search reveals that many major events scheduled for the next five years will be held in countries such as Japan, Switzerland, France and Italy, which are universally accepted as democratic. Other events will be held in the USA, but as long as Trump is in office can the USA claim to be democratic?

It’s worth noting that all of these counties were awarded the competitions before the COVID-19 pandemic. When the total financial and social cost of the virus is calculated, will citizens support any future bids for major sporting events?

Authority

Non-democratic countries don’t need to justify anything to their subjects. China, Russia and the Gulf States are now hosting many of the world’s major sporting events and their governments operate unencumbered by public sentiment.

China has hosted many major sporting events and will do so in the near future. They entered this space by hosting the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and have hosted various forms of Asian Games. The Winter Olympics are set to be held in Beijing in 2022 and the country has been the venue for prestigious events in Basketball, Swimming and Athletics in recent years.

China is not a democratic nation.

Russia is an interesting conundrum. Russian athletes were prohibited from competing under the national flag at many recent major events due to widespread state-supported doping, but the country still hosted events such as the Winter Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan.

Russia is not a democratic nation.

The Gulf states

The Gulf states are attracting sports administrators to their nations. Their geographical location and air transport hubs make them enticing locations for staging international events, and their oil wealth allows them to cover the costs. The oil money also affords their people a very high standard of living and a subsequent tolerance of government policies.

Qatar is determined to become a sporting nation. They have invested heavily in sporting academies and sporting infrastructure. They host major events and hire foreign experts to train their homegrown talent. They are set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and have promised to keep players, officials, fans and the media comfortable despite the stifling desert heat. The air conditioned World Cup is bound to cost an absolute fortune, but the oil rich states should have little trouble convincing their subjects to bear this burden.

Having worked at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, which was the first major event of any kind held in that country, I can attest to the enthusiasm, pride and excitement Qataris will feel towards football’s greatest tournament in two year’s time.

The United Arab Emirates has attempted to position itself as a favourable tourism destination through hosting international competitions in sports such as Rugby Sevens, Tennis, Golf, Sailing, Equestrian and Road Running.

The flow-on effect

Financial costs and benefits are not the only factors for governments to consider when deciding to host a major event. Flow-on effects must also be taken into account.

One flow-on effect is the increase in sports participation after a major event such as the Olympic Games. This is not true. Many first-world countries which have recently hosted major events are seeing an increase in childhood obesity every year.

Major events lead to an increase in sports participation immediately after the games, or an increase in participation in particular sports. If a national hockey team or basketball team wins gold, those two sports will most likely attract more members. But many of these sports were probably mass participation sports in that country anyway. Norway wins Cross -Country skiing gold because of the popularity of that sport. The same can be said of Speed Skating in The Netherlands, Rugby Sevens in Fiji and Table Tennis in China.

Facilities

Sporting infrastructure is touted as a positive legacy for a host city or country. Many venues are reused as specialist or multipurpose sporting facilities. However, A quick google search reveals a multitude of facilities in many countries left to crumble after world’s best athletes have departed. Some of these abandoned facilities were used as recently as the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

Evidence of this wastage, and the tactics used by governments to justify the initial construction, will surely make citizens of democratic nations more cynical and less inclined to support bids for major events in the future.

E- Sports

Is it cheaper to host E-Sports events?

Competitions still often take place inside sports stadiums but there are fewer competitors at fewer venues who seem to require less equipment. Competitions consist of a few ‘gamers’, their elaborate computer game equipment, copious energy drinks and some broadcast equipment to display the action on a big screen and to livestream to audiences around the world. The fact that E-Sports competitions take place electronically means that they can be enjoyed online. Does this make them easier and cheaper to host?

E-Sports must be an enticing options for governments in the future because they are enormously popular. The most watched Youtube videos are those featuring computer games and gamers.

Are we looking at this the wrong way?

Instead of asking whether only authoritarian regimes will host major events in the future, can we cite the hosting of an international sporting competition as evidence that a country is not democratic?

Persuading the powerful

Finally, how many countries will be able to afford to ‘persuade’ the sports officials who decide which country hosts the upcoming sporting extravaganza?

Scott Morrison appoints David Dench as Education Advisor.

The Prime Minister of Australia has appointed former AFL player David Dench as Education Advisor in a move that has shocked the nation. Dench will advise the prime minister and the federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan in matters of education pertaining specifically to universities.

“My government is committed to education and to providing world-class facilities and services to the people of this great nation,” Morrison stated.

“Education will make this nation great again and it needs to be properly funded. For this reason, I have personally appointed Mr Dench as Education Advisor with special responsibility for funding.”

Political observers were left stunned by the shock announcement, and questioned the credentials of someone with no political or educational expertise, who made their fame playing Australian Rules Football.

Mr Morrison justified the appointment by referencing Dench’s unique and specific experience with university finances.

Dench spent four months in jail in 2008 as punishment for his role in a scheme to defraud Victoria University out of millions of dollars. The former North Melbourne fullback and captain was charged specifically with nine counts of obtaining property by deception and aiding and abetting the receipt of a secret commission.

“Mr Dench is exactly the person we need advising our government,” said Mr Tehan.

“His interaction with the university sector reflects the funding priorities of the LNP for tertiary education in this country, and his invaluable advice will inform our policies relating to this industry as long as we are in government.”

“Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted upon universities in Australia, particularly as many have lost their overseas students and are struggling financially. The manner in which universities and tertiary institutions are managed in the near future will go a long way towards determining the academic and economic prosperity of the nation, and that is why we are so excited to bring Mr Dench into our ministry in an advisory capacity.”

The prime minister and Mr Tehan refused to be drawn on the exact sum Dench will be paid in his advisory role, but explained that he will share an office with TV host Scott Cam.

Image: Craig Greenhill

Dale Kerrigan to represent Brand Australia.

Dale Kerrigan will promote Brand Australia because he once dug a hole. The popular character from the Australian movie The Castle was chosen by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to serve as international ambassador for a country obsessed with digging holes and taking stuff out of them.

In a classic scene from the movie, Dale’s father Darryl tells the family of his son’s achievement over dinner, boasting,

“Dale dug a hole.”

Throughout the movie, the likable but unremarkable character, portrayed by actor Stephen Curry, does little else to distinguish himself. While his older brother Steve is known as ‘an idea’s man’, and character Lawrence Hammill employs his law degree and intellect to save the family home, Dale digs a hole.

While Steve makes a motorcycle helmet with a built-in brake light, and a brush with a hose in it, mother Sal makes rissoles and Darryl puts reality TV renovators to shame – Dale digs a hole.

Morrison’s enlistment of Kerrigan is being hailed as a PR masterstroke which further entrenches the PMs title of Scotty from Marketing.

“Dale is the perfect person to represent Brand Australia,” announced Scotty.

“His greatest claim to fame is that he dug a hole, and modern-day Australia’s greatest claim to fame is that we dig holes. In fact,” continued Scotty beneath his trademark smirk, “we dig lots of holes and take stuff out of them.”

The holes Scotty referred to are mines, and the stuff taken out of them include natural resources such as coal and other minerals, upon which Australia’s economy is heavily reliant.

“We love digging holes,” Scotty explained, “so much so that we as a nation export almost nothing that requires a university degree to make, and we have one of the least complex economies in the world.”

“Our economy depends enormously on mining, agriculture and tourism and not on technology or innovation like other nations. Internationally we’re seen as environmental pariahs because we keep digging up and burning resources like coal.”

“We need to celebrate our love of digging holes, and that’s what Dale Kerrigan brings to Brand Australia.”

Scotty also explained that Dale epitomises modern-day Australians.

“You might also notice that Dale’s not the brightest spark, and his literacy skills are not the best. Australia is also falling behind in literacy and numeracy rankings worldwide, and my government’s funding cuts to education should ensure we fall even further behind international standards in the future.”

Scotty was asked what happens when we dumb down as a nation and lack the ability to diversify and strengthen our economy. He replied;

“We dig more holes.”

Image: http://www.celebrity.nine.com.au

What’s the difference between a koala and a paedophile?

What’s the difference between a koala and a paedophile?

Nobody wants to hug a paedophile.

True, but there is another difference. In Australia right now, some paedophiles enjoy more protection than koalas.

Child molesters are currently receiving protection form religious organisations such as the Catholic Church. Historical records have revealed that many guilty child molesters were not prosecuted for their crimes, and were simply moved to another parish or district, where many of them offended again.

These facts came to light during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Another revelation was the protection paedophiles receive within confession. The law of the Catholic Church states that anything that is said by a person to a priest in confession is between the confessor, the priest and God. Therefore, if a person admits to committing child abuse during confession, that crime will not be reported to police.

The Royal Commission attempted to change this law. A recommendation attempted to force priests to report admissions of child abuse to police in order to help reduce or eliminate acts of child abuse in the future. Senior figures within the Catholic Church have since publicly stated that they will refuse to pass on admissions of crimes to police, even though this is blatantly breaking the law.

Church authorities are adamant that they will protect the sanctity and secrecy of confession – rather than protect victims of child abuse.

Koalas, meanwhile, are being offered very little protection in Australia. Such is the state of the koala population throughout the country that experts claim our national symbol could become extinct by 2050.

Koalas suffered massively during the most recent bush fires, and will not get their homes back until the charred bush land regenerates, which could take many years. Further habitat is being destroyed by rampant land clearing throughout the country.

The animals are regularly killed by feral animals such as wild dogs and are victims of road accidents, especially at night. Shrinking habitat due to urban expansion has caused a shortage of food and damage to their gene pool which provokes diseases. Drought leaves them with insufficient water to drink and excessive, unseasonal heat kills them.

The cuddly and lovable animals are also under threat from specific resource projects, including:

Brandy Hill quarry extension in Port Stephens, NSW

Shenhua Watermark coalmine near Gunnedah, NSW

Blueberry farming around Coffs Harbour, NSW

Land clearing in north-west NSW.

Child abusers, meanwhile, are also receiving financial support. Australian taxpayers fund religious organisations and religious organisations often pay no tax, because they are religious organisations. Koalas, meanwhile, are losing their habitat and their lives because countless programs and organisations designed to protect them are being de-funded or under-funded.

Current environmental policies in Australia, and the refusal of church organisations to report child abuse to authorities, indicates that some paedophiles are more of a protected species that koalas.

Perhaps we need to dress koalas in a cloak and collar.

RSPCA raids Parliament House.

The Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) has carried out raids on Australia’s federal parliament in response to repeated reports of animal cruelty.

The animal welfare organisation carried out the raids in Canberra after mounting evidence linked the destruction of Australia’s wildlife to the actions and policies of politicians.

“Australia is killing its native animals,” stated a spokesperson for the RSPCA “This is the direct result of decisions made by politicians from all sides of politics.”

“Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world, despite the fact that non-indigenous Australians have only been here for about 230 years.”

The raids uncovered deliberate policies and gross inaction from the major political parties which have contributed to the decline of native animals across the country.

Documents, archival records and electronic communication revealed that native animals are disappearing due to the presence of feral animals, the climate crisis, bush fires, reliance on fossil fuel, land clearing and drought.

Feral animals such as cats, foxes and cane toads have wiped out many native animals, and feral horses continue to cause widespread ecological damage in alpine regions, despite decades of requests from numerous groups to have the brumbies removed.

Feral and domestic cats are still the most destructive introduced species in the country, but domestic cats are still allowed to roam freely day and night, and cat breeding is still a legal and lucrative business.

The climate crisis was also discovered to have detroyed many of the county’s native animals, and Australia has played a large part in this ongoing disaster.

“Australia has the highest per-capita carbon footprint in the world,” explained the spokesperson, “…and scientific evidence tells us that this is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels and traditional agricultural methods. Despite this, politicians from both parties insist on opening new fossil fuel projects and neglecting renewable energy.”

The RSPCA is itself heavily involved in the rehabilitation of native wildlife which suffered due to the most recent bush fires, and found that a comprehensive plan to prevent further destructive bush fires has still not been developed.

“Habitat loss is another major contributor to native animal deaths, and some experts believe Koalas could become extinct in the near future. Despite this, politicians are drafting new laws to allow more land clearing, or failing to enforce existing laws which prevent land clearing.”

The raids also uncovered gross incompetence and corruption in the management of water resources in the world’s driest continent, particularly along the Murray-Darling basin.

“The Murray-Darling debacle has caused yet more native wildlife to perish, and this network stretches across various states. For this reason, we will also conduct raids on state and territory parliaments in the near future if the country’s water resources, and other natural resources, are not properly managed to give native wildlife a fair dinkum chance to survive and prosper.”

In response to the raids, Prime Minister Scott Morrison took a photo with a wombat.

I Spy…

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘A'”

“Australia”

“Yes, it’s something in Australia, but be more specific.”

“Australian animals”

“No”

“Angophoras”

“No”

“Asylum seekers”

“No”

“Androids and Apples”

“No”

“AAP”

“AAP?”

“Yeah, Australian Associated Press, the news service providing objective, balanced news to media networks in Australia and overseas.”

“No”

“ABC”

“Your ABC?”

“That’s the one.”

“No”

“Activists”

“No”

“Activism?”

“No”

“Anti-Adani laws”

“No”

“Aged care residents”

“No”

“Altruists”

“No”

“Atheism”

“No”

“Academia”

“No”

“Academics?”

“No”

“Artists”

“No”

“This is really hard.”

“Keep trying. You’re close. It’s related to all of the guesses you’ve had so far.”

“I know, AUTHORITARIANISM”

“YES”

Image: http://www.smh.com.au

Australian Students to Study Nothing but Marketing.

The Australian government’s attempt to de-clutter the school curriculum will see Australian school students study nothing but marketing from 2021.

The move comes at the behest of the current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and has won support from coalition members from every Australian state and territory.

“Marketing is all one needs to know in order to succeed in this country,” announced a press release from federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

“Look at the prime minster. He rose to the highest office in the land through nothing but public relations spin, and was only inserted into the role when our party re-branded itself after the Turnbull era.”

“Such is his reliance upon marketing spin that he earned the nickname ‘Scotty from Marketing’. Of course, he prefers his official nickname, ScoMo. In fact, assigning nicknames is one of the first modules students study under this exciting new curriculum, before they delve into ‘The Art of the Slogan’.”

State and territory governments traditionally set the specific curriculum for their jurisdiction in Australia, but the massive overhaul will see the introduction of a national curriculum. Conservative ministers believe the new curriculum will de-clutter and simplify teaching programs and allow teachers to get ‘back to basics’.

The Back to Basics call is made before every major election and allows politicians to pretend they will improve students literacy, numeracy and thinking skills through the explicit teaching of times tables, spelling, punctuation and grammar. This time, politicians can promise to instil in young Australians the one life skill through which the Liberal National Party survives.

As a result of the changes, students will no longer study traditional subjects such as Maths, English Literature, Physics, Geography and Biology.

“The current government has proven that accurate scientific knowledge is simply redundant in the modern age,” explained Tehan, before outlining more details.

“Humanities subjects such as History will be wiped from the curriculum, because this subject breeds bleeding heart, black armband lefties who insist on re-writing history.”

“Environmental education will certainly be scrapped, because our current policies will ensure Australia has no natural environment to study in 20 years time.”

Students will be provided with world-leading instruction on public relations and will learn to devise and use slogans such as:

“Less activism, more marketing”

“Spin to win”

“Rort your Sport”

“Manage the mainstream media”

“Dictator Dan”

“Murdoch and Me”

“Deny and Deflect”

“Bogans love Slogans”

Some elements of the old curriculum will surface in the new marketing curriculum, however. Creative writing is necessary for the creation of slogans, press releases, policy announcements and speech writing, while artists are needed to create the ‘look’ and ‘sound’ of any re-branding exercise.

“Mathematical knowledge helps us to doctor figures which highlight the failures of our party, and to blame any economic failure on Labor.”

“Sport and physical education subjects will remain, because politicians gain enormous public relations benefits from pretending to support sporting teams. Furthermore, the promotion of militarism cannot continue at its current pace without fit, healthy young Australians to join the defence force.”

Furthermore, every school in the country will study Christianity, regardless of whether students or families adhere to a different faith or no faith at all.

“We’re sure the students will love the rock music during church services,” affirmed Tehan.

Image: Element5Digital

Darren Lockyer: Destroying The Country He Once Captained.

Darren Lockyer captained the Australian national rugby league team but since retiring from the sport has devoted himself to destroying the country he loves.

The Kangaroos and Queensland captain now uses his exalted status to promote the interests of the Coal Seam Gas / Fossil Fuel industry, which is attempting to expand its operations in a country whose populace is ready to embrace renewable energy.

Lockyer was enlisted as ‘safety ambassador’ for the Origin Energy Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) project in Gladstone, QLD, in 2013.

It’s interesting that a major corporation would appoint a safety ambassador who confessed to a gambling addiction, joked publicly about a football gang rape scandal and started a drunken pub brawl.

The APLNG project was accused of causing bubbling along the Condamine River near Chinchilla, which prompted an investigation by the state government and Origin Energy. Critics also raised concerns that CSG caused health problems for locals in rural-residential estates such as Wieambilla near Tara, incidents which were also investigated by the state government.

Lockyer himself confessed to being against coal seam gas operations, before he became a spokesperson for the industry. Before Origin started paying him.

What’s wrong with coal seam gas?

The environmental and social risks of coal seam gas include:

  • Encroachment on productive farming land
  • Disruption of other land uses and industries
  • Clearing of bushland
  • Air pollution
  • Contamination or depletion of ground or surface water
  • Pollution of waterways
  • Negative health impacts on workers and nearby residents
  • Damage to biodiversity.

Coal seam gas poses a huge risk to the quality and security of water, but Lockyer promotes the practice on the driest continent on earth, which is still suffering through drought.

But lots of athletes promote companies

Yes, many sportspeople are ambassadors for corporations. They’re paid to convince the public to buy one brand of sports shoes, watches or energy drinks instead of another brand. Lockyer, however, is not being paid to convince Australians to pay one company to power their homes over another. He is being paid to promote the industry itself.

Why?

Because the industry knows it has a lot to hide. The industry knows it destroys the environment.

Do I have something against Darren Lockyer?

I admit, I’m from NSW, so I dislike Queensland league players, but I’m also Australian and Lockyer’s brilliance led my country’s national team to many victories. In fact, I saw him play his last NRL game in Sydney when the Broncos comfortably beat the Sharks.

Exporting destruction

The league legend’s path of destruction extends beyond Australia’s borders. He is currently listed as the Head of Business Affairs for Mayur Resources, an Australian-based resource company with operations in Papua New Guinea.

Lockyer’s masters recently dispatched him to PNG and his presence provoked the ire of the nation’s leaders, who claimed he was sent to ‘brainwash’ the local people into supporting a new coal mine and coal-powered power plant.

Foreign mining companies, including Australian companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto, have a tainted history in PNG. It’s Australia’s way of thanking the local people for saving us from invasion during WWII.

PNG idolises Rugby League players. They worship league stars perhaps even more than Australians do. Rugby League is their national sport and league greats are awarded almost god-like status in the developing nation.

Why does Lockyer support the fossil fuel industry?

Did he inhale coal seam gas?

Maybe that explains his permanently croaky voice. Maybe that’s why his throat is fracked.

Does he have some form of personal connection to mining?

He grew up in Roma, which is the birthplace of the state’s oil and gas industry, so he has can at least claim some personal affiliation with the industry. Then again, fellow Origin players Willie Carne and Brent Tate also grew up in Roma, as did the great Arthur Beetson.

Does he genuinely believe in the benefits of coal seam gas?

Rugby League players are not famed for their intellect, but for their toughness, skill and athletic prowess. Maybe Lockyer genuinely believes the claims of the fossil fuel industry, the claims that he himself is paid to repeat to uneducated, impressionable Australians.

Is he doing it out of patriotism?

Average people cannot truly understand the depth of patriotism instilled in athletes who have represented their country, let alone those who have captained their country. Lockyer’s pride in his country is undeniable.

The mining industry has paid advertising agencies millions of dollars to cleverly position it as central to Australia’s national identity. Apart from promoting its contribution to ‘jobs and growth’, the industry has convinced many people that miners are true Australians. Miners are as vital to our nation as diggers, farmers, lifesavers…and athletes. Mining is positioned as ‘true blue’ because real Aussies work with their hands, in the sun, working up a sweat and battling the elements. Although Lockyer wears a suit and tie in his role with the industry.

How much money does Lockyer need?

He must have earned a substantial wage during a long and successful career which included captaining Australia and Queensland, winning four premierships and multiple Origin series, and attracting lucrative sponsorship deals.

He would be paid a handsome sum to sit on the side lines and make the odd comment as part of Channel Nine’s commentary team, and he is a director of the Brisbane Broncos club.

Maybe he’s still paying off the gambling debts he accrued the mid 1990s.

Out of curiosity, does Lockyer have solar panels on the roof of his house?

Would a true patriot and former leader of a national sporting team support an industry which is scientifically proven to be destroying the country’s natural environment?

Image: Chris Brunskill / Getty Images

Australia withdraws from the Olympic Games.

EXCLUSIVE: The Australian government has informed the Australian Olympic Committee that the nation has officially withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and will not compete in any future Olympic events.

The announcement was lost among media reporting on the current aged care debacle and the COVID-19 pandemic, but was made via a brief press release from the Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator Richard Colbeck.

“Australia contributes to such a small percentage of the overall medal tally at the Olympic Games that our efforts make no real difference to the event,” said Senator Colbeck.

“In Rio, our total medal haul did not even contribute 10% to the overall medal tally, and pales into insignificance compared to the big medal winners such as China and the USA. We won only 8 gold medals in Rio and we win even less at Winter games.”

“The simple, undeniable fact is that Australia’s population is, and always will be, too small to make any real impact on the medal tally at international multi-sport competitions, so we should stop trying to change the situation and cease to participate.”

As a result, Australian athletes will no longer be able to compete under the national banner in summer or winter games, paralympic competitions or even the Youth Olympic Games.

The Australian government apparently made the decision after failing to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow ‘carry over medals’. Carry over medals are medals won at a previous Olympic competition which count towards a country’s medal tally at a subsequent Olympics.

Australia lobbied for medals such as Mack Horton’s gold in the 400m freestyle at Rio in 2016 to count towards its overall tally at the Tokyo games (scheduled to take place in 2021). This is despite the fact that a number of Rio medallists, including cyclist Anna Meares, have retired from their sport altogether.

“Australia needs carry over medals to meet its future Olympic medal targets,” argued Senator Colbeck.

The country’s fierce lobbying for the new rule won some support from nations such as India and Brazil, but eventually positioned Australia as a pariah in the international arena. This prompted the government’s decision to divorce itself entirely from the Olympic family.

As to how the Australian public will react, it is not yet known. It is hard to imagine that such a sports mad nation, which hosted the games in 2000, will accept such a decision. That said, they did re-elect a prime minister who famously carried a lump of coal into parliament in support of the fossil fuel industry.

Senator Colbeck also alluded to the young Australians who will now be denied a healthy, prosperous, optimistic future.

“They are young, fit, dedicated and patriotic, so we’ll put them all in the army,” he explained.