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?
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.
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.