Tag listing: Events

Australia Day

The debate surrounding the date of Australia Day seems to divide opinions as cleanly as same sex marriage.
For an issue which doesn’t directly affect most citizens, any suggestion of a change can evoke deep emotions, again, much the same as marriage equality.
A recent survey revealed the majority of Australians had no idea January 26 was the date in 1788 that Captain Arthur Phillip stood on the beach at Sydney Cove and proclaimed – largely to himself, some staff and possibly a few bemused Aboriginals – that this land was now part of the British Empire.
But for the few survey respondents who knew the back story to the date, most Australians (56%) have no specific preference for a national day, just as long as there is one.
It is worth remembering a few facts that have occurred in the 230 years since that bizarre ceremony near where the Opera House now stands.
Since then Aboriginal people have been driven off their lands, shot, poisoned, raped, infected with disease, enslaved, murdered and marginalised. They had their children forcibly removed and were not counted in the nation’s census until 1967.
They could not vote, own land or enjoy a drink in a hotel. They were, however, allowed to fight and die in wars … but not join the RSL on their return.
The treatment of Aboriginal people is a sad and sorry chapter in this nation’s history and one which has been hidden from subsequent generations.
It is fair to say most Australians do not know the truth about how Aboriginal people were treated in the colonial era.
Thankfully modern Australians are slowly beginning to see the deep and rich culture to which our early settlers were blind.
With 60,000 years of continual occupation it is easy to understand that the Aboriginal connection to the land is strong – the same land that was ripped away from them in a few decades.
While today’s Australians cannot undo the wrongs of the past we have a responsibility to acknowledge those mistakes and remain vigilant to ensure our society is strengthened by the lessons learned from them.
The best this debate over our national day can hope to achieve is a greater level of respect and understanding.
After all it’s just a day … there are 364 others on which to make a difference.

Remembering the women at home

For almost 100 years Australians have paused on November 11 to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who died or suffered in wars.
But during that minute of silence on Remembrance Day, little recognition is given to the women who were left behind in times of war and fought their own battles on the home front.
The Hahndorf Community Association’s Remembrance Day ceremony next Friday is a refreshing take on one of the nation’s most important and poignant days.
This Remembrance Day, Hahndorf will not only pay tribute to the fallen soldiers, but also the mothers, wives, partners, and sisters who made their own sacrifices and struggled to keep communities together.
In wartime, many women were left behind to raise children and take on male-dominated jobs, while dealing with grief, loneliness and the unknown of whether their loved one would ever return.
Women were thrust into mechanical and manufacturing roles to help keep businesses, factories and farms afloat.
They took on the men’s work by driving trucks, buses and machinery and making bombs, bullets, tanks and other military equipment.
Resources were scarce and the women were paid less than the men, but many would argue this shift in the workforce sparked the end of the housewife.
So this Remembrance Day let’s also spare a thought for the women who fought to keep the wheels turning while they waited for their loved ones to come home.

Speed blitz

The announcement that SA Police has launched a six-month speeding blitz in the Hills should be clearly noted by all road users.
Last year’s speed blitz in the district caught almost 1500 motorists – some travelling at more than 40km/h above the posted speed limit.
It sounds trite but if you don’t want to pay the fine then don’t speed.
There are plenty of examples of the State Government using speed cameras on suburban streets as an income stream.
But in the case of blatant and excessive speeding on country roads there can be no excuse.

Tourist drawcard

The 15,000 who crammed into the Strathalbyn harness racing complex on Saturday night for the biennial Balloon and Aviation Regatta were a clear indication of the event’s popularity.
Sadly, the same conclusion could also be reached by watching the snaking lines outside the toilets and food stalls.
The event’s popularity exceeded everyone’s expectations and the hard working volunteers of the organising committee – who personally bankrolled the event to the tune of several thousand dollars – deserve congratulations, not ridicule, as was displayed by some disgruntled patrons on social media.
Yes, there were some problems but almost nobody expected 15,000 people to attend.
The State Government needs to immediately approach the committee and help develop the event so it becomes a regular feature on the region’s calendar.
It is a real tourist drawcard and nothing like it exists in SA.
It has winner written all over it.
It would be a tragedy for the event to be forsaken – or lost to another region – for the sake of a few portaloos and some more food stalls.
The volunteers have come up with the original idea and have done the hard work to build it into what it is today but have clearly signalled the need for some assistance.
This is the perfect opportunity for the Government’s expertise to shine.
The committee is not asking for money, they want help.
It is easy to imagine Jay Weatherill extolling the virtues of the next event in 2017 from the basket of a hot air balloon floating gracefully through the dawn stillness above one of SA’s most historic tourist towns.
It’s a marketer’s dream and the fantastic publicity for both the event and the Government are obvious.
The regatta was a family-orientated event at low cost with all the profits returned to the local CFS, SES and Rotary club.
A host of smaller community organisations such as sporting clubs and Scout groups were welcomed to piggyback on the event and use it as a fundraiser.
Most of that money will stay in the local community.
Event organiser Kate Knight has offered the Facebook critics a seat on the organising committee.
It’ll be interesting to see how many take up the offer.

Event hurdle

It’s testament to the success of Groovin the Moo that a sell-out crowd of 15,000, mostly young people, braved some pretty cold and wet Hills weather to attend Saturday’s concert.
There is clearly a need for the event and by most reports this year’s festival was a well-run event with fewer noise and behavioral problems at the Oakbank racecourse than last year.
It is clear that taking the music to regional areas is a format that works considering  six of the eight concerts in the Australia-wide tour have already sold out.
The event’s organisers are mindful of its impact on the Hills community and worked to address concerns raised after last year’s concert with noise and drunken behavior outside the racecourse.
It’s a shame then that, through no fault of its own, the event has again been tarnished, this time by the actions of a minority of festival-goers who have behaved in a clearly antisocial way en route to the concert.
It’s not unreasonable for a person running a restaurant to say they don’t want people urinating and vomiting in full view of their customers.
It’s not unreasonable to say that a landscape supply company shouldn’t be overrun by hundreds of intoxicated young people using its private toilets without permission.
And it’s not unreasonable to expect better treatment for a very unwell young man than being thrown off a bus and left outside a private business without assistance while semi-conscious.
Young people pre-loading on alcohol and drugs before a big day or night out is nothing new, and is not the fault of event organisers.
But those transporting intoxicated people – whether it be on chartered buses or in private cars – have a degree of responsibility for their passengers.
They shouldn’t be stopping at private businesses, on the freeway or its on and off ramps so their passengers can use them as toilets.
Let’s hope the event’s organisers can drum into bus and car drivers that this is unacceptable and make other arrangements, such as scheduled stops at public toilets, so that the only dirty outcome from next year’s event will be a few thousand pairs of muddy gumboots.

Jumps racing

Racing Minister Leon Bignell’s increasingly vocal opposition to jumps racing in SA is fast pushing the controversial issue to a head.
Earlier this year he hit out at racing’s governing body, Thoroughbred Racing SA, over its decision to force the SA Jockey Club to host jumps races at its Morphettville track when it had requested the sport be dropped from the metropolitan racecourse.
He called for jumps racing to be phased out, as it has in every other Australian State except Victoria.
Over the weekend Mr Bignell was at it again – urging consideration of a ban on the sport at the same time that thousands were gathering at Oakbank, jumps racing’s biggest event of the year in SA.
His comments have understandably infuriated the head of the Oakbank Racing Club, John Glatz, who wants to know exactly where the Government stands on this issue.
Mr Bignell told a weekend press conference that he is unsure whether the Labor Government would support Greens MLC Tammy Franks’ Bill to put an end to jumps racing in SA.
It is also unclear how the rest of the State Labor caucus feels about the issue.
Parliamentary Speaker Michael Atkinson attended this year’s Easter races and was a vocal opponent of the Greens Bill on Twitter over the weekend.
Just two races out of a program of eight at each day’s Oakbank meetings are jumps races.
Oakbank draws more than 60,000 visitors to the Hills over two days annually, making it a huge tourism boon for the region – surely a good thing under Mr Bignell’s other hat as Tourism Minister.
What is unclear is how many of those visitors come for the jumps racing and how many would return if those races were deleted from the program.
Every year there is debate about the merit or otherwise of retaining jumps races and, with a horse 19 times more likely to die in a jumps race than on the flat, it is undoubtedly a risky sport.
Unlike most commentators and lobbyists, Mr Bignell is in a position to change things in the racing industry if he doesn’t like them.
If he is so opposed to the sport, then perhaps it is time for him to lead the charge towards that change.

The fear factor

Police have declared war on motorbike riders with the targeted blitz on those who flout the region’s speed limits.
One only has to observe the behavior of some weekend riders on sections of Hills roads to realise that some bikers view local roads as racetracks.
The speeds are staggering, as are some of the high risk overtaking manoeuvres.
The intended use of hidden cameras highlights the level to which the situation has descended with police counteracting the practice of riders travelling the roads at safe speeds checking for cameras before giving the ‘all clear’ to others.
It is true that an experienced motorcycle rider can safely travel on most Hills roads in excess of the posted speed limit.
But the roads are not playgrounds.
They are used by everyone from semi-trailers to cyclists and one group cannot be quarantined from the rules.
The deliberate police move to create a  “fear of detection” among road users shows the level of their concern.
It appears that the only deterrent for some will be either getting killed or getting  caught.
With the well signposted fixed cameras on the freeway at Crafers and Mt Osmond collecting a staggering $6m in their first seven months of operation, one can only wonder what impact the hidden cameras will have.
If lives are saved then the deterrent will have been a success.

Pick of the bunch

Lake Breeze winery’s Handpicked Festival will certainly have helped put the Langhorne Creek wine region on the map.
Such an event is a great way to draw new people into the region – people who, after their first taste, will hopefully want to return to explore the other wineries and attractions on offer.
In a challenging marketplace where there is plenty of competition for the tourism dollar, it is encouraging to see a small local business taking a chance by organising a major event.
The time, effort and money that goes into securing and delivering such a festival is huge.
Let’s hope the payoffs are just as big for one of SA’s lesser known but significant wine regions.

Hahndorf the loser

The cancellation of this weekend’s Dawdle and Doodle Days will be sad news for many traders in Hahndorf.

Rally by consent

Since when did it become a local government responsibility to do the public relations work for a private event?