23 December 2019

Probing the polls: Summernats lives in the hearts of the people, so does Christmas

| Genevieve Jacobs
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What does Christmas mean to you and your family? Photo: File.

For weeks now, debate has raged across the RiotACT over the proper place of Summernats in Canberra. If only the next ACT election could stir up even a fraction of the passion.

It all started when Ian Bushnell stirred the possum (or poked the slumbering petrolheads) by suggesting that Summernats was noisy, dirty and a poor fit for Canberra’s community values.

Describing it as “an orgy of burning rubber” and “a festival with enough of a streak of hoonery left in it to view the burnouts competition as the weekend highlight”, he argued that if organisers think a dragstrip should be high on the ACT government’s list of priorities, well, tell ’em they’re dreaming.

Responses ranged from agreement to outright (and fairly forcefully expressed) rage, including a number of comments we couldn’t print on a family news site.

But then our sub-editor David Murtagh weighed in, arguing that if we really are a tolerant community, then we need to accept that Summernats is here to stay.

“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,” David said.

Interestingly, while many applauded him there were others who vehemently disagreed (which just goes to show what a hearty community discussion really looks like).

Andrew thought it was “Fantastic. Maybe the best article I’ve read about Canberra in years. Of course, the diversity and equality aspect will be ignored by the loud minority”.

Toni said: “Yeah – Cause it’s our right to burn rubber and pollute the environment both physically and acoustically. If you don’t go to Floriade, you would not even know it is there. So not true for the Summernats. Hate it – but can’t escape it.”

And Stephen said: “I’m 67, and I’ll be spending four days there with my 20-year-old daughter, and we’ll have a fantastic time, as we did last year.”

So we took it to the readers and asked you all: Does Summernats need to change? The response was huge, one of the biggest polls we’ve ever run, attracting 1137 votes.

Your options were: No, it’s a harmless bit of fun that’s good for our economy. That option attracted 762 votes or 67 per cent of the total.

You could alternatively select Yes, it’s dirty, noisy and a poor fit with Canberra’s community values. That attracted 375 votes or 33 per cent of the total – a comprehensive victory for the No option.

This week, we’re asking how you celebrate Christmas: is it a peaceful time to share with family at your place, or the whole, tinsel decorated, Jingle Bells extravaganza?

How do you like to celebrate Christmas?

View Results

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