If we’re really a community, tolerate Summernats

David Murtagh 15 December 2019 141

Summernats isn’t for everyone. That’s OK. Let it go … Photos: File.

Ian Bushnell kicked a hornet’s nest on Monday when he suggested time was running out for Summernats in the ACT and the “annual orgy of burning rubber”. David Murtagh argues it’s time Canberra practised the tolerance it preaches.

Summernats sounds like hell on a stick.

It’s always hot. It’s always loud. It’s always crowded. It’s the same every year.

Is watching a burnout from a modified EK Holden really any different from watching a burnout from a modified EB Falcon?

Probably not.

But is that behaviour any odder than walking around in the Spring heat looking at flower displays which – can we be honest for a moment? – look the same as the displays last year? And the year before that?

Which is why a lot of people don’t go. And will never go. Even when they live in the same city. Because it’s boring.

And that’s the beauty of Summernats. And Floriade. If you don’t like them, don’t go. They’re not compulsory.


Floriade 2019. Or 2018. Who can tell?

But what if you live in the inner north and every year for a few days Summernats makes your life hell?

Does it really make your life hell? People park on median strips. Yep, they sure do. Just like locals. And they’ll be booked. Just as they are at fetes. Look on it as a positive externality from Summernats!

OK, what about the concert on the Saturday night? It’s so loud?

Yep, it’s loud. Fair call. For one night of the year – for which the ACT region scoops up a heap of greasy lucre – your life is a bit uncomfortable. Your fellow Canberrans thank you for your sacrifice.

Just as the residents in Tuggeranong sacrificed their bus services in order to integrate Canberra’s public transport network under Network 19 for the benefit of the inner north.

Oh yes, we know, it was very important for Wanniassa to lose buses to integrate into the inner north and Gungahlin network. For when light rail makes it to north Cooma. In 2034. Or not. We all make sacrifices. Some are bigger than others.

There are people in this city who will never go to the Art Gallery. Or the Portrait Gallery. Or the Australian War Memorial. Or the Raiders. Or the Cavs. And yet we all pay for, or subsidise, these attractions. That’s what we do as a community.

If you don’t want to pay and don’t even like paying for some or all of these, grit your teeth and suck it up buttercup because there will be elements of government spending which you do like and others you don’t. It’s how we survive as a community. We deal. As a society. As individuals. We deal.

And we need to start dealing a bit better than we have been. And be more tolerant because there aren’t that many occasions where the community can come together anymore. Summernats, for all its flaws, is a community event that brings a very diverse group together. And it’s being added to the list of deplorable events hitting the wall.

Australia Day is objectionable because it reminds Indigenous Australia of dispossession.

Anzac Day is maligned because it’s “too white”.

Easter and Christmas offends atheists and non-Christians.

Even the Melbourne Cup – once the race that stopped a nation – is now the target of growing animal rights protests.

Australians can’t even agree on the flag anymore.

It will get worse, of course, because as we become more insular within our tribes, there will be fewer events that bind us.

The truth is, for a city that lauds its tolerance, we’re not very tolerant of people who don’t slot into the right pigeonhole.

Maybe Ian Bushnell was correct when he wrote that Summernats doesn’t fit well in a “clean and green city that spruiks its progressive credentials, has serious climate action goals and is about to source all of its electricity from renewable sources”.

But here’s the thing: just because this city has “progressive credentials” doesn’t mean that non-progressives get run out of town on a (light) rail. Non-progressive are part of the city’s rich tapestry.

Actually, Ian Bushnell was 100 per cent correct about Summernats. Summernats doesn’t fit with Canberra. At all.

Which is precisely why Summernats must remain a fixture in Canberra.

There is barely a day of the week that the ACT Government doesn’t worship at the altar of diversity.

But why is it that the most progressive are the least tolerant? Whether it’s wanting to get rid of Summernats or scraping Alan Jones’ poster off the back of a bus – tolerant Canberra doesn’t seem as openminded as it pretends to be.

If we’re going to survive as a society, we need to accept that maybe not everyone is as enlightened as we see ourselves, or that they have different perspectives and hobbies that we think are silly. They can be ignored. For the sake of our society, we need to learn to deal. To turn the other cheek. In some cases, for just one weekend a year.

Except for Blue Poles.

Which is rubbish.


Floriade 2017 … or is it?

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141 Responses to If we’re really a community, tolerate Summernats
wottaway wottaway 11:13 am 24 Dec 19

Wot a classic finish !….. beautiful. A great article and accurate down to the last line.

gazmos gazmos 10:20 am 22 Dec 19

This event has run its course and should be abandoned. The real problems occur outside of the EPIC site. Increased crime and abuse of women at the local brothels are not values that I support. Yes, it is small minority of attendees but it is a consequence of the event.

Belinda White Belinda White 10:09 pm 20 Dec 19

H hhh hvhvhvhbjy CB

Ctl_Alt_Del Ctl_Alt_Del 8:37 am 20 Dec 19

I’ve never attended Summernats and am unlikely to ever attend Summernats but seriously, we can’t have a handful of days each year for this event? We may as well just wrap Canberra in cottonwool and send it to bed early with a warm milk.

paulmuster paulmuster 11:12 pm 19 Dec 19

Lets keep it and make the tickets free.. so long as attendees sit through a quick seminar on basic logic in the hope that it prevents such a ridiculous argument from happening in future…

For those relentelessly defending summernats – like people who don’t want the worlds largest burnouts in their neibourhood are threatening to ethnically cleanse them… there are a few things that you need to consider before voicing your case…

First – you unfortunately cant use both the good old one size fits all “we are good for the economy” argument alongside “its not bad for the environment because its only a few days”. These two just dont mesh, as I think your economic significance on the balance sheet is equally as irrelevant as your air quality emissions. Sorry – but your hardly the building sector, and while our environment may be able to cope with the damage you cause, our economic heart wouldn’t skip a beat should you cease to exist.

Second – You also cant use “its important to us” and “you should leave your home if you don’t like it” for very basic reasons of hypocricy. As a rule – it is very difficult to get somebody to empathise for your case when you are dictating how they should get out of your way (albeit from their own place of residents) in order for you to engage in activities that they don’t agree with.

Third – the whole “we’ve cleaned up our act” argument doesn’t allign with the “its been going for 30 years and is therefore important” arguement, as the former bascially admits to the anti-social behaviour that many believe to define the event.

Jack 'Siaki' Pendleton Jack 'Siaki' Pendleton 10:27 am 17 Dec 19

I live near it. No thanks.

Jessicah Mullins Jessicah Mullins 10:01 am 17 Dec 19

I’m surprised by the number of people dismissively telling those that are upset by the impact of Summernats to ‘go away/leave town’ for a few days!!

Seriously? That’s a viable solution for you? That people should (and presumably have the means to) pay to go away, instead of enjoying their summer break at home?

People have a right to live in their own homes without significant impacts and disruption from others.

I’m not saying that Summernats should be cancelled, but I would welcome some changes.

Matt Stuart Matt Stuart 11:32 pm 16 Dec 19

Lisa Howie your famous !

Rhiannon Smith Rhiannon Smith 11:16 pm 16 Dec 19

Iona Smith tell that to the siphoned petrol from our cars and squealing revheads all night 🙄

    Iona Anne Iona Anne 11:19 pm 16 Dec 19

    Rhiannon Smith it needs to be cancelled, so over it

    Tharren Kingston-Lee Tharren Kingston-Lee 4:23 pm 18 Dec 19

    Iona Smith don’t go. I hate Florida’s but I’m not whinging about it costing millions for no good reason.

    Rhiannon Smith Rhiannon Smith 5:52 pm 18 Dec 19

    Tharren Kingston-Lee when we live a few hundred metres away it's a different story.... It's the behaviour of participants outside of the festival that causes concern.

    Rhys Smith Rhys Smith 9:31 am 22 Dec 19

    Tharren Kingston-Lee "don't go" is such a moronic argument when it's the dropkicks screwing around all over Canberra as a result of the show.

    In contrast, Floriade attendees don't get violently drunk and go about stealing and ripping burnouts all over Northside.

JJ Johnstone JJ Johnstone 12:20 pm 16 Dec 19

Brad McVicar how good are the fun police comments 😂

Benny Franc Benny Franc 7:22 am 16 Dec 19

David Edwards your ride for the nats?

Aaron Will Aaron Will 7:22 am 16 Dec 19

The Speedway event on the weekend was a great example of the following for such events. There was a crowd bigger than at Parramatta 2 weeks before, in a city with a tenth of the population. Canberrans are more diverse than flowers and folk festivals

Dean Wolf Dean Wolf 6:21 am 16 Dec 19

Chris Pendergast have a look at that car

Kate Hartman Kate Hartman 11:03 pm 15 Dec 19

Found you a new Torana Jason that Ruby will love!

Garry Inglebert Humperdink Galli Garry Inglebert Humperdink Galli 10:45 pm 15 Dec 19

What about the Canberra Show, are there any wingers about that? Or maybe the football stadium upsetting the Bruce residents, or the NYE celebrations in civic. Or the cyclists that caused Parks way to be blocked for a few hours the other day. Stopping winging about everything YOU don't like ffs

Jenny Lawrence Jenny Lawrence 9:32 pm 15 Dec 19

My only memories of summernats were about how I had to avoid walking the 5 mins to Dickson woolies at night as an undergrad student because it wasn't safe. I think the experiences that led me to learn that will always dominate my impressions of the event, even though I'm told it has recently cleaned up it's act. Its not intolerance of redheads that made me think negatively of it, it was their actions.

Marcia Denman Marcia Denman 8:41 pm 15 Dec 19

Are all the above complainants aware that EPIC has Dog Shows throughout the year ? Dogs bark. Noise.

. Commonwealth Park has Floriade, people enjoy themselves, laugh and make a noise.

. For all the above complainants, go the Coast for the weekend.

Don’t judge, don’t decide who is right.

If you cannot be kind, be quiet.

We all have different enjoyments, respect that

    Julie Patricia Smith Julie Patricia Smith 11:09 pm 15 Dec 19

    Marcia Denman the dogs don't have noisy burnouts or emit toxic fumes from burning tyres . If you don't live nearby you are not in a position to judge why some of us object to the burnouts

    Dave Blow Dave Blow 8:06 am 16 Dec 19

    You are comparing dogs barking to the noise made at Summernats? Sure Wilbur...

Sarah Bateman Sarah Bateman 8:29 pm 15 Dec 19

Belinda and Adam Kayla’s first car?

Ian Scott Ian Scott 7:21 pm 15 Dec 19

I am not a rev head at all. I lived in O'Connor until August this year. I completely support summernats. It's just a weekend peeps and brings a lot more people fun than fuddy duddy annoyance. Long live Summernats.

    Cheryl Gay Cheryl Gay 7:45 pm 15 Dec 19

    Ian Scott Hear, hear. One weekend a year is nothing. I totally agree with you.

Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 6:57 pm 15 Dec 19

Don’t tolerate, celebrate and enjoy!

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