I also wish to clarify something. I did not say that rally drivers, or rally organisers are murderous in their intent. What I did say is that the sport is a relic of a bygone era and has very few positives and a large number of negatives.
It might have been more appropriate to compare the Repco Rally to the Viking summer solstice festivals where thousands of suburban louts guzzle vodka and throw rocks at each other. The combination of danger, excitement, tradition and attraction to tourists have a certain similarity. Not too many people die, most people have a good time, and the local economy benefits from the sales of vodka and beds for those civilised enough to sleep during the three or four longest days of the far northern year. In those festivals, though, it is mainly the louts who hurt one another.
Those concerned about the impact of the Repco Rally are worried about the impact on local koala and other furry bush mammals, rather than the drivers themselves.
Most importantly, the Repco Rally comes to our doorstep after seventeen years in Western Australia because the government calculated that it was only returning $1.60 to the economy for every dollar invested. By comparison, the Cottesloe Surf Carnival returns around $14 for every dollar invested. Of course, it does not involve the adrenalin rush of danger that driving at 200kph through the bush does, or that rolling rocks into crowded valleys of drunken revellers does, either.
So, I accept the charge of hyperbole. I withdraw the comparisons to bullfighting, dwarf throwing and whale slaughtering. The Repco Rally is inappropriate simply because it is expensive to mount, damaging to the natural landscape on which we wish to base our tourist economy, a relic of the fifty years of excessive consumption of cheap oil, and will return very little to the local economy.
The global collapse of the financing for Formula One racing is proof that these are not isolated rumblings of a tree-hugging, anti-car nut. The sports sponsors’ love affair with speed is over. Corporates wanting to build profile for the post-carbon world that we have to build to survive this recession and the challenges of the twenty first century do not want to be associated with an orgy of oil-burning hot rods, they want to support sustainable, green events that establish their credentials as corporate citizens.
To those of you that love the smell of high-octane fuel in the morning, I’m sorry. You have had your fifty years in the sun, but evolution has moved on. Like the remaining custodians of traditional cultures wiped out by three centuries of European colonialism, you are the living relics of an era that is disappearing. At least you have the resources to document the culture of the internal combustion engine and the media connections to ensure that those documents are publicly aired. You have living ancestors who can describe a life without the thrill of the throbbing engine. You have a way back. If only the Inuit, Ainu and Arrente were so lucky.
Giovanni Ebono will be on Bay FM 99.9 between 9:00 and 11:00 this morning.