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Probing the polls: Summernats supporters and the age of criminal responsibility

Genevieve Jacobs 13 January 2020 75
Summernats burnouts

Summernats burnouts have polarised our poll respondents. Photo: Peter Norton.

In the midst of the bushfire crisis, one of the other major stories of the season is undoubtedly Summernats.

Organisers’ decision to continue with their burnout competition on what turned out to be the hottest day Canberra has ever experienced remains controversial. In particular, it will be interesting to observe the repercussions after the Chief Minister made his thoughts on their decision abundantly clear.

There have also been some fascinating results after we polled you on the issue. A little context: most RiotACT polls attract between 500 and 1500 votes. We don’t pretend for a second that they are scientific, but it’s a good way to gauge what people care about in our very wide readership.

So we asked:  Should authorities have exercised their powers to cancel the Summernats burnout competition?

An all-time record 5,884 people voted. And from behind the scenes, we can tell you that almost 25,000 people read the accompanying poll article.

Your options were: No, organisers acted responsibly within the law. This attracted 71 per cent of the total or 4,166 votes. Alternatively, you could have voted  Yes, this event has lost its social license. This option received 1,718 votes, or 29 per cent of the total.

Opinions were certainly polarised in the comments.

Hilbilly said: “Forget it. If they are allowed to continue with burnouts on the hottest day in history with the whole surrounding area going up in flames and gleefully adding their acrid rubber smoke to the worst air quality in the world, then nothing can stop them. All they have to do is quote how much money they bring in to the ACT and everything caves.”

From Shane Bennett: “Definitely NO. The Summernats employ their own fire crew that are positioned all around the burnout ‘pad’ who react & respond immediately to any threat very promptly, no-one & nature are never in trouble. Taking Summernats from Canberra would be detrimental to the local economy. My only suggestion would be [to] ban the sale of alcohol before …say … 2-3 pm, that will eliminate most of the ‘dickhead’ behaviour.”

Maya123 smelt a rat: “One moment with the poll the ‘yes’ vote was leading, then all of a sudden the ‘no’ vote was leading. Makes me wonder if the results were screwed by say an email going out to Summernats attendees and asking them all to vote.”

Perish the thought! Incidentally, a warm welcome to any passionate motorsport fans who may have arrived at the site very recently, and thanks for engaging in the debate.

This week we’re asking about whether we should raise the age of criminal responsibility.

There is a national push underway to raise the age of criminal responsibility across Australia from 10 to 14, and ACT Human Rights Commissioner Helen Watchirs has weighed in, saying that is the international standard.

“We now have the evidence in relation to brain development for complex reasoning regarding consequences and impulse control, which is not developed until the age of 14 generally,” she said.

What do you think?

Should we raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14?

View Results

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75 Responses to Probing the polls: Summernats supporters and the age of criminal responsibility
Megan van der Velde Megan van der Velde 10:16 pm 15 Jan 20

Anyone who does not live in the Watson area should not make any comments on this as you have not experienced the noise and stench every year. When you do, then please comment.

Leo Menssen Leo Menssen 10:17 am 15 Jan 20

See y'all at Summernats 34.

Toby Hartley Toby Hartley 8:32 am 15 Jan 20

Facing the inevitable obsolescence of fossil fueled cars,

Summernats prefer to burnout rather than fade away.

Acton Acton 10:38 pm 14 Jan 20

Summernats should be kept because every year, without fail, it upsets the finger wagging wowsers. It is so enjoyable to see these elitist snobs squirm in their impotence. Let’s make Summernats a twice yearly event.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:30 pm 14 Jan 20

“….it will be interesting to observe the repercussions after the Chief Minister made his thoughts on their decision abundantly clear”

But not before the 2020 Territory election.

The people who hate Summernats are likely to be rusted-on Labor/Green voters anyway, but a fair chunk of Summernats supporters would be part of ACT Labor’s cashed-up bogan demographic who tend, as a matter of honour, to dislike Liberals even more than they dislike Labor’s PC poseurs – for some of them, cancelling Summernats could well be the last straw.

Mathew O'Connor Mathew O'Connor 6:47 pm 14 Jan 20

I think people really put the boot into Summernats enthusiasts, and I think it's more than a little class based / culture cringe. I for one am sick to death of hearing what knowledge workers did on their retreat to Ubud, and don't even want to think about how much carbon they wasted on flights to Denpasar.

Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 5:57 pm 14 Jan 20

I don't get how a place like Canberra ended up with a weird thing like Summernats. Seems more suited to Queanbeyan or a country town or somewhere. Seems unfair to place it so close to residential areas. Many of those residents have been there a long time, before Summernats began. I think that Andy Lopez needs to be much more considerate.

    Steve Herring Steve Herring 10:02 pm 14 Jan 20

    Queanbeyan ? Practically is part of Canberra...just without the pretentious attitude. 😂

    John Hynes John Hynes 7:24 pm 15 Jan 20

    Another open minded canberran who thinks everyone should be given a fair go, except the things they dont approve of.

    Brendon Boscence Brendon Boscence 7:30 pm 16 Jan 20

    Clarrie Crawford what nonsense to make a statement like that about where it should be, and yes I live in Canberra. And what makes the event weird?

Danny Williams Danny Williams 5:23 pm 14 Jan 20

I don't think anyone who thought this year's Summernats should have been suspendeded or cut short thought that all future Summernats should be cancelled (other than the usual suspects), but on this occasion, other than the heat, (alleged) fire risk and bad optics of continuing to hold the event, it denied the rural folk in affected bushfire areas from using the horse stabling area at Epic to relocate their animals to a safe and secure location. Instead, the overcrowded Queanbeyan showground with much inferior facilities was used. I think that was of greater concern than the other reasons most might think the event should have been suspended. Once again, though, money and tourism wins.

    Brett Izzard Brett Izzard 10:44 pm 16 Jan 20

    Danny Williams it’s a pity thoroughbred park didn’t make their facilities available next door for horses etc.

Robyn Holder Robyn Holder 3:04 pm 14 Jan 20

10 year olds know what they are doing.

Gerasimo Krikonis Gerasimo Krikonis 2:28 pm 14 Jan 20

Best weekend in Canberra.

Toshy Roy Toshy Roy 12:43 pm 14 Jan 20

They shouldn't had the burnout on such hot day long with all the smoke it was very bad choice to go head with the burnouts

    John Hynes John Hynes 7:25 pm 15 Jan 20

    Toshy Roy you were there?

    Toshy Roy Toshy Roy 8:18 pm 15 Jan 20

    no but there was that much smoke from the fires only idiots would go head with burnout on such a day its show that the fuel to the brain make people do stupid things

    Cameron Shaw Cameron Shaw 6:17 am 16 Jan 20

    Toshy Roy so, with all the bushfire smoke around, you were worried about the smoke from the burnouts making things worse?

Richard Czeiger Richard Czeiger 11:58 am 14 Jan 20

I love a classic car show! But even forgetting the environmental impact ... I just don’t get burnouts. It’s not as if you’re even in the drivers seat...

Happy to hear from fans to describe what they love about it: always interested in others opinion.

    Herbert Kowalski Herbert Kowalski 9:34 am 15 Jan 20

    Richard Czeiger agree, car guy myself. Car shows, track days, drag racing... but burnouts, I just don’t get

    Benedict Hutchison Benedict Hutchison 4:50 pm 15 Jan 20

    Well personally I bleed race fuel and I love burnouts. Well that is to say, I love proper skids. Not some car sitting still smoking the tires, but the sort of show the likes of Mick Brasher and Lynchy put on.

    My dad doesn’t have any great interest in cars or Motorsport but he once told me that he was glad i did, because otherwise he’d never have appreciated the raw, visceral experience of the top contenders letting loose on the pad. I can understand why it’s not for everyone, but I think it’s great.

    Luca Jewell-SIkic Luca Jewell-SIkic 8:10 am 16 Jan 20

    Most accurate post of 2020 to date Benedict Hutchison

Ed Haywood Ed Haywood 10:46 am 14 Jan 20

Get rid of it. The amount of hooning that goes on when it is on is not good

    Leigh Stephenson Leigh Stephenson 11:18 am 14 Jan 20

    Ed Haywood Mate it's 1 weekend a year - when alot of locals are away on holidays too.. It also brings 20 million to local businesses alone in a 4 day period

    Ed Haywood Ed Haywood 3:11 pm 14 Jan 20

    Leigh Stephenson and a lot of hoons, take it somewhere else

    Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 5:59 pm 14 Jan 20

    Leigh Stephenson It shouldn't be about the tourist dollar! It is very unhealthy for the environment,.

    Jack Wilson Jack Wilson 11:54 pm 14 Jan 20

    Ed Haywood alot of hooning happens every day in Canberra.

    Ed Haywood Ed Haywood 10:28 am 15 Jan 20

    Jack Wilson, yes, we already have enough. Why import more?

Matthew Dwyer Matthew Dwyer 1:49 am 14 Jan 20

ACT Government wants the money poll results irrelevant

Tammymarie Hamers Tammymarie Hamers 9:45 pm 13 Jan 20

Oh and burnouts wouldn't have even put a dent on the air quality. From a former Watson resident. 😎

Tammymarie Hamers Tammymarie Hamers 9:44 pm 13 Jan 20

Noone from summernats sent me an e-mail. I follow summernats and riotact. Glad I got my vote in. Would definitely not want to lose the summernats. It's not all beer and bogans. If you love art how can you not see the time, skill, creativity and dedication put into this machine art. Old school cars and the motor vehicle history kept alive.

All depends on how you look at it.

Jay Annabel Jay Annabel 9:36 pm 13 Jan 20

i don't understand why the Chief Minister tried to appeal to the Summernats organisers to ask them to stop, rather than directing them to do so.

    Brad Adams Brad Adams 7:46 pm 15 Jan 20

    Jay Annabel that’s perfect easy to answer. The Chief Minister knew they wouldn’t stop and didn’t want to alienate the event by forcing them to stop. He also made every who didn’t like it happy by asking them to stop. Win win for him really

    Chris Lenihan Chris Lenihan 7:37 pm 16 Jan 20

    Nor does the chief minister have the power to enforce a stop, the territory was under a state of alert on the day, which gives the power to the ACT ESA commissioner the power and she was satisfied along with ACTFR that the 60 on site fire marshals had the equipment and training to handle sny situation without drawing on local resources

    Chris Lenihan Chris Lenihan 9:25 am 17 Jan 20

    Wayne Mccauley exactly Wayne

    Hats off to all the awesome fire fighters at Summernats

Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 8:36 pm 13 Jan 20

Who was the poll publicised to? Didn’t come up in my feed or many others I know. Try living in Watson and Downer when this inconsiderate environmental stupidity is occurring.

    Leo Menssen Leo Menssen 9:08 pm 13 Jan 20

    Ever thought of taking a holiday when Summernats is on.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 9:25 pm 13 Jan 20

    Leo Menssen ever thought of not being an inconsiderate human? Why should I have to leave my home so a bunch of mentally insufficient losers can do burnouts and roar up and down my street

    Steve Quasi Hoppitt Steve Quasi Hoppitt 9:30 pm 13 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson Obviously you moved there prior to 1984, or you would have known about the previous incarnation of the event when you did move in.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 9:41 pm 13 Jan 20

    Steve Quasi Hoppitt how is that relevant? Just because it might have been worse in years gone by it doesn’t make what is still an environmentally and socially inconsiderate event acceptable in the present day. Comparisons like that are just simpleton logic. The event is incompatible with our current and future environmental context. Or do you think society needs self-indulgent, selfish idiots whose idea of having fun is doing a burnout?

    Steve Quasi Hoppitt Steve Quasi Hoppitt 10:48 pm 13 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson How is that not relevant? It's the most relevant part of the situation. The point is that if you moved in at any time during the last 33+ events it is difficult to justify whinging about it now. It's like moving in across the road from a nationally famous live music venue, then complaining about the noise.

    You're complaining about a once a year event that was already [from your response] an established and known mecca for upwards of 1800 entered vehicles, possibly thousands of spectator vehicles, and around an extra 100,000 people coming into Canberra, but you don't think it is relevant that you CHOSE to live there.

    "The event is incompatible with our current and future environmental context."

    Whose context would that be? The greens, or just their selfish supporters who think everyone has a right to live however they choose, as long as it conforms to your idea of appropriate social behaviour.

    Jacob Volgyesi Jacob Volgyesi 6:36 am 14 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson so your rights and privileges should take priority over many more people's rights and privileges? All I'm hearing from you is you expect hundred or thousands of people to cater to what you want with no consideration to what they want if anything you are inconsiderate why should people sacrifice what they enjoy just for you? Sorry to say this but in a democratic nation the rights of the majority get priority over an individual and if an event like this attracts hundreds or thousands of people and you don't like it then the simple answer is they shouldn't be avoiding it to keep you happy as you are one person if you hate it so much you should be moving otherwise learn to be tolerant yourself

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 7:29 am 14 Jan 20

    Jacob Volgyesi no that is not what I’m saying. It is much more than about a single individual’s rights. Summernats creates environmental harm. It generates significant air and noise pollution. The long term impacts of the collective activity of hundreds of thousands of environmentally inventive individuals all having their little bit of ‘individual’ fossil fuel fun costs everyone in society (including those doing burnouts). Your response to me is typical of a Summernats attendee - you can’t tell the difference between public and private good - and you don’t know how to prioritise public good over your own self interests.

    Leo Menssen Leo Menssen 8:11 am 14 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson Four days and you feel inconvenienced. Oh diddums.

    Anthony Carroll Anthony Carroll 8:11 am 14 Jan 20

    I didnt didn’t read that Fiona is asking for any special consideration. This may be a misunderstanding on my part, or if I am corect, a misunderstanding of others. What i I see here is co sideration side ration of residents. More control of the behaviours outside the show ground, and better planning. Perhaps summernats Summernats organisers can fund traffic control around downer, Watson, and lyneham? Profits for the organisers drivers this event, but it brings in millions to canberra Canberra business, very important to the Dickson business community, Mitchell and FYSHWICK. Lets Let’s keep it, but lets let’s be more considerate given that when it started, Canberra was not as big and broad as it now is.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 8:12 am 14 Jan 20

    Leo Menssen that the best you got mate?

    Jacob Volgyesi Jacob Volgyesi 10:56 am 14 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson actually I don't attend Summernats your response is typical of someone trying to justify their own opinion and dislike of an event and hide behind activism what does stopping Summernats do for the world? Summernats wouldn't even contribute as much of an environmental issue as volcanic eruptions and would contribute less then the manufacturing of solar panels in general you simply don't like the event so you are trying to argue that banning it is best for the public but it's not at all keeping thousands of people happy is actually important in a mental health perspective especially considering suicide rates are only increasing and you try and say removal of an event loved by thousands is good for society your looking at a single aspect trying to justify your reasons and calling me a typical Summernats attendee when I've gone once in my life and didn't really enjoy it I don't like burnouts but I'm not going too bully thousands of people trying to guilt trip them and upset them to try and make a change of 0.01% in the grand scheme of things it has no impact

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 4:21 pm 14 Jan 20

    Jacob Volgyesi ‘it’s insignificant in the scheme of things’ is the excuse used by polluters all over the world. The accumulated impact of all those people and corporations who think they don’t have to be responsible because their part is ‘so small’ is the reason that we’re screwed and currently on track for catastrophic climate change. Australians are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita in the world - as individuals we’re essentially the global gluttons. It’s precisely because of events like volcanoes that humans should be reducing emissions wherever they can. And yes, it’s reality that all modern manufacturing processes likely to be emitters - so if we have to choose what we manufacture, then let it be something that helps reduce emissions over the long term - like solar panels. I am sorry to hear about mental health issues of Summernats participants. But you’re surely not arguing burnouts and polluting the environment are good for mental health? Your grandchildren’s mental health will be much worse dealing with environmental crisis after environmental crisis. Noone should be taking a healthy environment for granted and it means modifying behaviour in the interests of future generations. The economic toll of climate change is going to be catastrophic. As it is, the 2019-20 bushfires will be sending Australia into recession. Once Summernats bans the burn outs and is low emissions then it will be acceptable. Until then it is just a symptom of an off track, selfish society that is short changing our future.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 4:23 pm 14 Jan 20

    Leo Menssen yeah I know you’re trying Leo. Not quite cutting it yet mate.

    Jacob Volgyesi Jacob Volgyesi 5:41 pm 14 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson no I'm not my I'm arguing that going around removing hobbies from people and forcing people into a sociological system where they are demonised for a harmless hobby will cause mental health issues taking people's freedoms away causes strain and right just like how the 2 largest volcanic eruptions in history cause a major cooling effect around the world to the point where global temps dropped by up to 5 degrees Celcius and there is a volcano in Italy that if it erupts has the potential too put us into an ice age I get where your coming from but 4 days of burnout is nothing compared to a year of trucks moving products around and we are not the worst per capita maybe do some research instead of just listening to rumour we are 11th per capita which isn't surprising given we are the 5th largest nation on earth we need to move a lot of product over very vast distances which isn't going to help it also doesn't help that we haven't upgraded our power plants in how long? Because everyone has fear mongered coal so badly have a look into the new coal power plants and even if we just booked our ones down and built the new ones with all the environmental additions we would actually lower our CO2 emissions by at least 60% plus majority of the carbon can be caught and filtered into a powder that can be used as a concrete instead of us further polluting by creating concrete therefore dropping our emissions even lower again but these facts never gain hold with activists because the facts don't matter it's about the paper coal is coal as far as modern activism goes and so a good viable technology that doesn't solve the problem but will certainly help never gets looked at and instead you point figures at 4 days of burnouts if you really care about the climate maybe study new power systems even new coal systems and you will find that even they are significantly better then what we have but don't get looked at because activists won't allow them to be looked at because it goes against the agenda https://www.worldcoal.org/reducing-co2-emissions/high-efficiency-low-emission-coal

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 5:43 pm 14 Jan 20

    Jacob Volgyesi i could take you up on every point, but the science does that for me.

    Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 5:53 pm 14 Jan 20

    Simple solution is to move Summernats well away from residential areas, but still close for all the locals who can't live without it. I would suggest Queanbeyan as a good spot for Summernats.

    Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 5:54 pm 14 Jan 20

    Leo Menssen Just move it well away from residential areas. It's not healthy to breath in that smoke etc. It's not too much to ask to move the festival to Queanbeyan or in a dirt paddock miles from nowhere.

    Victor Forbes Victor Forbes 6:15 pm 14 Jan 20

    Clarrie Crawford why would you move it to QUEANBEYAN to get it away from residential areas I just drove around and yes QUEANBEYAN still have normal people living here or don’t we matter. Mind you we wouldn’t knock it back if it was offered.

    Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke 6:32 pm 14 Jan 20

    Queanbeyan is heavily populated tbh

    Damian Lomax Damian Lomax 9:53 am 15 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson I also live in Watson and on Summernats weekend the peace and tranquility which wasn't there to begin with is definately interrupted. But calling car enthusiasts who attend and participate in Summernats mentally insufficient losers is both immature and ignorant. There is a small percentage of attendees who do the wrong thing just like any event ever held.... Remove your head from your rear end and potentially provide some constructive criticism and help Canberra improve a fantastic event and make it enjoyable for everyone as apposed to bashing anything that interrupts whatever it is you do while sitting at home just after new years.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 10:00 am 15 Jan 20

    Damian Lomax I didn’t say all Summernats attendees are mentally insufficient. I am saying those who do burnouts and roar up and down my street are lacking - and I stand by that. The constructive criticism is that this event is not appropriate in the current environmental context. As mentioned in previous posts, if it was carbon neutral and didn’t pollute the environment then the event would be worth retaining. The immaturity is on the side of people not willing to reckon with a dangerously changing world.

    Phil Mopar Phil Mopar 6:52 am 16 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson so I'm hoping your carbon neutral and do not drive a fossil fuel car, have electricity or water supplied to your place of residence.

    Wear clothes not made in a factory etc etc etc.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 7:28 am 16 Jan 20

    Phil Mopar Like everyone, I do contribute emissions. But do what I can to minimise my carbon footprint - and offset. My resource use is much lower than average for an individual in Australia, but still much more than that of an individual in India or Africa (for example). However, I do not unnecessarily contribute emissions as part of a festival.

    Damian Lomax Damian Lomax 12:01 pm 20 Jan 20

    Fiona Dickson just as a side note for you, the cars actually run on green fuels. Almost every car at Summernats that actually competes is running on methanol or potentially ethanol. Ethanol while still emitting some harmful pollutants as per gasoline, greatly cuts down on the amount of particulate that enters the atmosphere due to its properties and combustion temperature. Most cars run on methanol which completely removed all harmful gases from the cars exhaust other than formaldehyde. All the carcinogenic components don't exist as apposed to everyone who drives around normal petrol cars outside of Summernats. So they are doing something to try and limit their emissions. Don't judge before you research.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 4:26 pm 20 Jan 20

    Damian Lomax I’m sure you’re aware there are down sides to those fuels as well. They are not renewable resources - come back to me when they’re all solar powered.

William William William William 8:18 pm 13 Jan 20

The 200 idiot,s that adults police in sutton nsw Should be placed on A Total Ban List, no need PEOPLE'S like this send them packing home all interstate?🚔🚔🚔🚖🚖🚖

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 7:37 pm 13 Jan 20

Hahaha Maya123 smelt a rat. So if the poll went the way she wanted the survey was all good? 😆

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