The Federal Government’s move to slash the ABC’s budget is a hammer blow for women’s sport.
Here’s a question – can you imagine, in five years time, a sell-out crowd at the MCG watching the Australian women’s cricket team?
Can you imagine that crowd in full voice cheering on Lanning, Perry and Blackwell?
Some of you might be thinking there’s more chance of Clive Palmer and Jacqui Lambie eloping off to Beijing – arm in arm, whispering sweet nothings and giggling their way through customs.
But it’s worth pondering. Is it possible for women’s cricket to reach such heady heights of popularity in a matter of years? Or does this thinking belong in the kingdom of the airborne pig?
For women’s sport to grow you need momentum and you need visibility.
The ABC’s decision to axe its coverage of the Women’s National Basketball League and soccer’s W-League at the end of the current season is not the way forward.
Faced with $254 million in budget cuts it can’t have been an easy decision, but it was a decision they took. (The ABC currently shows one live WNBL game on Saturday, and a live W-League match on Sunday).
There are gloomy ramifications to these actions. Women’s sport is all too often the first to go.
Australian Opals superstar Lauren Jackson told Fairfax Media it was a “very dark day for women’s sport”.
For basketball and soccer it’s a kick in the guts in the fight for equality. Less exposure will make it difficult for both sports to retain their sponsors if another broadcaster doesn’t come on board – it’s, sadly, the same old story.
If we use performance as a measuring stick to justify coverage and investment, then the second-best women’s team in the world, the Opals (some of whom play in the WNBL) surely qualify for a leg-up?
Perhaps they could have mounted a more persuasive case if they were number one?
We owe it to the next generation to keep fighting for equality – or at the very least a fair go.
In the past few months some eye-catching things have happened in women’s cricket.
Recently crowned women’s Twenty20 cricketer of the year Meg Lanning is on target to smash records in both short formats of the game.
The Southern Stars captain led the team to a 4-0 clean sweep of both the one-day and Twenty20 series against the West Indies. That was this month – in August they dished out the same treatment to Pakistan in the WT20 series.
Even those who don’t follow women’s cricket have heard of Lanning and her talented accomplice Ellyse Perry.
All this ‘noise’ builds profile, awareness, respect (from both sexes) and momentum. So it’s a real shame we won’t see the Southern Stars shine on the international stage until next July’s Ashes tour of England.
The international summer of cricket is already over for the women before the first splash of sun block.
It all boils down to a case of bad timing. The Cricket World Cup starts in January, making this a unique summer.
Luck is another key ingredient needed for women’s sport to prosper.
The women’s schedule was done to match the men’s T20 internationals, which were staged this month. This allowed for double-headers with guaranteed television coverage. Normally these matches are held in January.
Instead the women will spend the summer playing for their respective states in the domestic WT20 competition with eight matches played as curtain raisers to the men’s Big Bash League.
For those who answered ‘no it’s not possible’ to my opening question here’s something that might make you raise an eyebrow – or two.
Last weekend a record crowd of nearly 46,000 turned out at Wembley to watch the English women’s football team take on Germany in a friendly.
The weather, true to form, was miserable, but the passionate crowd still outnumbered the 40,000 that turned up to watch the men’s friendly between England and Norway in September.
That is a remarkable (and heartwarming) fact.
Despite England losing 3-0 the record number of fans never lost their voice. It was a night of triumphs. The BBC provided live television coverage and a generation of girls got to see their team as equals to the men for the first time.
Momentum built from the London Olympics played a large part in making this happen. There has been a shift in the national consciousness. Women athletes are seen in a new light – they certainly command new respect and are building a new audience.
In Australia in 2015-16, a Women’s Big Bash competition is due to start. Who knows what effect it will have on a younger generation of sport fans.
You might even have to set off early to grab a seat.
The formation of a women’s Big Bash League is a major step in terms of professionalism.
After a week where the fragility of women’s sport has again been on display it was good to get some cheerful news.
In a last-gasp attempt to convince the ABC to reverse its decision to axe live coverage of the WNBL, past and present greats of the game have been in campaign mode.
They’ve delivered a petition to ABC offices across the country calling on the national broadcaster to continue its 35-year partnership with the WNBL.
Former Opals stars Allison Tranquilli and Trish Fallon presented the 5,000-strong petition to the ABC in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Not far away in the boardroom of Cricket Australia, the finishing touches were being put on the announcement of an eight-team Women’s Big Bash League, which will align itself with the men’s competition.
The WBBL will adopt the same colours and names of the BBL franchises and replace the current Women’s T20 competition.
“We want cricket to be the number one sport for girls and women in Australia and we believe that the WBBL can assist this goal by creating an inspiring visible pathway for the next generation of players, fans and volunteers,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said.
Aligning the WBBL with the BBL is the right way forward, the only way forward. It allows women’s cricket to be seen by a new legion of fans who already have an interest in cricket but may never have seen women play it at the elite level.
From my experience half the battle is getting people to watch women’s sport. Once they do, it becomes abundantly clear antiquated notions about women athletes not being strong, skilful or entertaining enough just don’t hold up.
It’s also the right time to join forces with the BBL. Now in its fourth year, it feels like everything has clicked into place. Record-breaking crowds, a few less gimmicks on the television coverage and international star power – the BBL can now rightfully own its place as a legitimate part of the Australian summer.
So yes, this is cause of celebration. As a passionate advocate of equality in sport you’ve got to take the victories when they come but I won’t be rushing out to buy a bottle of something French and fizzy until the broadcast deal is in place.
Cricket Australia says its strong desire is to have the WBBL on free-to-air television and it’s working through arrangements at the moment.
Visibility in sport is crucial.
Signatories to the WNBL petition say the ABC’s decision to drop the sport will cut access and publicity to levels not seen since the 1970’s. It’s disheartening to say the least.
The impact goes deeper than just participation levels. It deprives girls and young women of role models of the non-Kardashian kind.
We live in a society that grimly hangs on to gender stereotypes. We can ill-afford to lose role models like Lauren Jackson, Rachel Jarry and Abby Bishop.
So it’s over to you Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell.
Cricket Australia is in discussions over how the players will be contracted. Some may have to relocate to evenly distribute the talent. The scheduling of games is also to be determined.
My hope is the WBBL will be played before the men’s games, not only to maximize exposure, but also to show women’s sport is as worthy as men’s sport. That message alone can change attitudes from the playground right through to the boardroom.
When the broadcast deal is done I’ll allow myself a more boisterous celebration.
In the meantime let’s hope the WNBL petition isn’t a wasted gesture.
Almost 12 months after the issue was raised, the Adelaide Oval has revealed plans to honour women at the redeveloped stadium.
It’s been almost a year since I wrote about the procession of South Australian sporting greats honoured at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval.
Eight football and cricket legends – all of them worthy – have been immortalised in bronze, along with the names of a host of other past champions emblazoned on the stands, gates, decks, bars, terraces, rooms and bridges.
All of them are men.
For reasons only known to the joint football and cricket committee responsible for selecting the names, women were overlooked in the first round of honours.
I appreciate the South Australian Cricket Association couldn’t ignore 140 years of history. Existing names were in place and had to be carried through. I also respect the SACA’s conscious decision to not name every square centimetre to allow for the inclusion of future champions.
But, no matter how you spin it, I still find it astonishing that not one person on that committee thought Karen Rolton, the former captain of Australia, was worthy of an honour somewhere in the half-a-billion-dollar redevelopment.
Her record speaks for itself. Not only did she captain her country, she retired as Australia’s highest run-scorer in women’s Test cricket and was named Australian women’s player of the year a record four times.
Pleasingly there are now plans in place to do something about the glaring oversight.
An “Avenue of Honour” will feature both women and men and a new set of honour boards acknowledging the outstanding achievements of the state’s female cricketers will hang alongside the men’s boards.
Perhaps most significantly there will be a substantial area inside the Oval named after a woman.
So did she by any chance captain Australia?
“I’m not allowed to say. That’s a very intelligent question but I can’t answer it,” SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw told me recently.
The SACA had planned to unveil all three measures honouring women at the start of this cricket season but with the tragic death of Phillip Hughes the timing was deemed inappropriate.
“Certainly from our side, on the cricket side, we’ve always had a plan to honour women and we wanted to make sure we did it in the most appropriate manner.
“I don’t think it was a mistake. I think from our side we immensely value the contribution that women have made,” said Bradshaw, who didn’t sit on the selection committee.
To maximise exposure these unveilings will take place at the start of the next cricket season in October, at a time when women’s cricket in South Australia, like everywhere else in the country, is on the rise.
The women’s game in SA has become a strategic priority.
Over the past year the SACA has invested more heavily in its female programs at both the participation level and the top end, appointing the first full-time head coach of the SA Scorpions.
Two highly regarded international players were also brought in, which saw the Scorpions go from bottom of the ladder to the final against New South Wales.
“It’s certainly not something we’re paying lip service to,” Bradshaw said.
“We are genuinely investing in and we’re seeing fantastic returns and we want to see our women do well and succeed but we also want to provide the young girls with a pathway through so they can participate in the sport, they can enjoy the sport as players, spectators, coaches, umpires, scorers.”
The SACA should be applauded for the work it has done over the past year but it was wrong to ignore women at the grand opening of the new Adelaide Oval. It was a big occasion. It was an opportunity missed to send a powerful symbolic message about the value of women athletes and women’s sport.
It would not have been tokenistic, as South Australian football legend Graham Cornes and others have suggested. Rolton, Lyn Fullston, Joanne Broadbent, Jill Kennare and Faith Thomas are all trailblazers in the sport of cricket and deserve recognition.
Speaking at the Melbourne International Women’s Day Breakfast hosted by UN Women this week, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland took aim at the failings of cricket to include and respect women:
“Despite the long history, it is fair to say cricket has been conservative and generally reluctant to promote female involvement in the game,” Sutherland said.
“In some parts, cricket has deserved the suggestion that it was predominantly ‘pale, male and stale’. Whilst slow to get going, we are now determined to make up for lost time. “
Thankfully the “pale, male and stale” tag is slowly disappearing.
When it finally does, cricket will be the richer for it.
No female athlete should ever be asked to spin on screen, Angela Pippos says.
The twirl question has everyone in a spin.
After her straight-sets win over Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard was asked by the on-court interviewer to “give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?”
“A twirl?” replied the seventh seed, slightly bemused.
“A twirl, a pirouette, here we go,” Ian Cohen continued.
Bouchard obliged, then giggled nervously and buried her face in her hands.
“It was very unexpected. I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny,” she said when asked about it later.
The Fed test
Was it sexist or just a bit of harmless fun?
In situations like this I like to employ the “Would you ask Roger Federer to do a twirl test?”
Clearly the answer is no.
I felt uncomfortable watching it but that was nothing compared to that sinking feeling of here we go again.
The men on the circuit are spared this treatment. They’re tennis players who, oddly, are asked questions about tennis.
Yes, there have been a few comments about the colour they’re wearing but rarely, if ever, do they have to answer questions about the cut of their shorts or the size of their sweatband. The fashion sideshow is a woman’s domain as it is with the rest of society.
If you believe the stereotype all of us women have an unquenchable thirst for fashion. We love it. Can’t get enough of it. Give me pleats, cut out backs, high-waisted skirts and neon. Lots of neon.
But forehands, backhands, drop shots and volleys? Don’t waste my time.
Skin deep talent
Unlike their male counterparts, women athletes are burdened with the added pressure of having to be beautiful. It’s not enough to be the best in the world at tennis or golf or surfing. They have to have that other commodity – the one that sells magazines and attracts TV rights and sponsorship – sex.
BBC commentator John Inverdale explained this better than me. Here’s what he told his listeners after Marion Bartoli’s Wimbledon win in 2013.
“Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, you’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?”
The twirl question and others like it don’t just pop up in isolation. They exist as part of the casual and not so casual sexism in sport – and society.
Sadly, the twirl is in “good” company.
After her win over Ana Ivanovic at last year’s Australian Open, Bouchard was asked this by former British tennis champion Samantha Smith:
“You’re getting a lot of fans here, a lot of them are male, and they want to know: If you could date anyone in the world of sport, of movies – I’m sorry, they asked me to say this – who would you date?”
At the same tournament Maria Sharapova had to respond to an inane comment about the heat wreaking havoc on her wardrobe. Men’s clothing must have some special quality that repels the heat.
Give it up already
We all have to change our thinking. We have to rid ourselves of prohibitive stereotypes that keep women in boxes – women’s sport is boring, women athletes aren’t strong enough, fast enough, entertaining enough, hot enough.
Women athletes must be treated as just that – athletes.
World number seven, Bouchard broke into the top 10 for the first time last year after her success at Wimbledon where she lost to Petra Kvitova in the final.
She deserves to be treated with respect. All women athletes do.
Who knows? If we focus on their sporting achievements we may find it has a trickle down effect and bust a few stereotypes in the playground, perhaps.
The Kurtley Beale text message affair is about respect.
Or lack thereof.
There are conflicting stories concerning how much coach Ewen McKenzie knew about the offensive text messages Beale inadvertently sent to former Wallabies business manager Di Patston.
McKenzie has been forced to deny rumours of a personal relationship with Patston and she has been subjected to a barrage of scrutiny about her life and work history.
Patston could be the daughter of the devil but she doesn’t deserve to be humiliated.
What we do know is Patston was upset by the images and has since resigned due to stress.
Beale has been stood down and will face an Australian Rugby Union conduct committee next week.
It’s a sad state of affairs for both parties.
In a series of text messages between the two in the hours after the incident, Beale begged for forgiveness. Patston agreed to give him a second chance and not show the texts to McKenzie or the ARU.
She had every right to expose the cruel nature of the messages but she chose not to initially.
Why? Because it’s a cross women bear when they break into the boys’ club. To fit in women sometimes have to bury their values deep.
Women make decisions every day about whether or not to respond to inappropriate behaviour at work. Women have to weigh up the consequences of speaking out. What damage will it do to my career? Will I be seen as a victim, precious, too politically correct or troublemaker?
These questions are weightier when you’re the lone woman in a testosterone-charged environment carrying the hopes of other women who want to follow in your footsteps.
This part of the exchange between Beale and Patston resonated with me:
“Do you realise the situation you’ve put me in? I have earned this job and I am proud of being a female at this level. If I complain then I make it hard for women in rugby,” Patston said.
Her response encapsulates how many women feel when they reach a position of power and influence in a male-dominated field.
The last thing you want to do is fail.
The passing around of demeaning text messages is all part of what Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick calls “gender asbestos”.
It’s hidden in the walls, cultures and mindsets of organisations. It’s toxic.
To shift attitudes Broderick approached the most powerful men in the country to join the fight for gender equality in the workplace with her “Male Champions of Change” initiative.
“What we need to do is recognise where power sits in this country, and that is clearly in the hands of men. So if we want to move to a model where power is shared, we need to work with those who hold it,” Broderick said.
Sport needs men to become champions of change – it’s crying out for it.
“I don’t condone what’s gone on but I think at the end of the day he’s a friend of mine and his welfare is important to me,” Wallabies vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper said about Beale.
Ashley-Cooper should be praised for not turning a blind eye to the heart of the matter while still supporting his teammate.
Season after season there are examples of appalling behaviour towards women in our football codes. Too often players fail to understand the ramifications of their actions. Any small steps towards accepting responsibility can only help build a more respectful culture.
I hope Beale continues to play for Australia. He has the potential to offer so much to the game and the community. People deserve to learn from their mistakes.
But strong men, real men, take a stand.
They tackle the real problem.
The Adelaide Crows stunned the football world on Wednesday when they sacked coach Brenton Sanderson. Have they made the right move?
Brenton Sanderson lost the playing group.
It’s an odd expression. Every time I hear a coach has lost his players I picture some poor man in a tracksuit bumbling around in the wilderness staring blankly at a compass – but make no mistake, in Adelaide this is as serious as it gets.
The pragmatists will shrug their shoulders and say “that’s footy” and it’s hard to argue against that.
Success is measured by wins and the buck stops with the coach. It’s not always fair but a little bloodletting every now and then placates not only fans but also sponsors. It shows the club is strong. Pro-active.
Or in the words of Adelaide Chairman, Rob Chapman, it shows “we won’t accept mediocrity”.
This sacking was brutal and carried all the hallmarks of a power play in the English Premier League.
It came with very little warning, like a Great White blind-siding a seal. Bang. A quick kill.
Sanderson had two years left on his contract. Only last December it was extended until the end of the 2016 season. Of course he never saw it coming.
So what changed over the course of nine months?
In short, the arrival of Mark Ricciuto, who joined the board three months ago – a formidable force on the field and now, it appears, around the polished mahogany negotiating table as well.
On Adelaide radio this morning Ricciuto confirmed the senior players were a major factor in the board’s decision to rip up Sanderson’s contract. Some of these players criticised Sanderson in post-season interviews.
“I would say if we didn’t make this decision, things could go from bad to worse like they have at other times in the Adelaide Football Club when we have had coaches moved on halfway through a season”, Ricciuto said.
“I know how easily it can unravel.”
Yes, these things do have a habit of unraveling fast but we’ll never know what Sanderson could’ve achieved in a drama-free fourth year as coach.
What we do know is he has the highest winning percentage of any Crows coach – 39 wins and 30 losses at 57 per cent.
In Sanderson’s first year in charge the Crows finished a kick away from the grand final. A fine effort considering he lost Phil Davis and Jack Gunston at the start of his tenure. With Nathan Bock leaving the year before, the spine of his team had disappeared.
He inherited the Kurt Tippett scandal and lost valuable draft picks.
Tex Walker did his knee last year. Dean Bailey’s passing left Sanderson without a trusty right-hand man on the eve of this season while captain Nathan van Berlo spent the year in the coaches’ box after rupturing his Achilles in a freak training accident.
All these factors were out of his control.
Conversely, the Crows finished 11th and 10th in Sanderson’s second and third years. They were in the box seat to finish in the eight this year and blew it. They coughed up too many leads in crucial matches and lost games they should’ve won, none more critical than the Richmond loss in round 21.
That one will haunt him.
Can you blame Sanderson for the turnovers and lack of composure? Or does the responsibility lie with the players? The same players who have agitated for change. As always with these questions time will tell.
So the next coach guessing game begins.
For now though, my thoughts are with Sanderson, who was gracious until the end. Talking to the media today he said he “fell in love” with this group and, although he respected the board’s decision, he didn’t agree with it.
In a sport where grumpy rude men rule supreme, Sanderson’s polite nature will be missed.
It was a bold decision and right now it feels like a harsh one. As a Crows fan I’m not alone in feeling this way. An Adelaide Advertiser poll is running about 70-30 against the decision to sack him.
Sanderson says this team deserves success and he’ll be cheering loudly.
As I will be for him whatever he does next.
As Scots head to the polls to decide whether to secede from Britain, republican Angela Pippos is frustrated by royal distractions and other road blocks to an Australian republic.
Here we go again, another royal baby is on the way.
Cue trumpets and saturation media coverage of the Duchess of Cambridge’s bump, the cut and style of the fabric covering her bump and the pressure on Prince Harry to settle down (preferably with just the one woman) and get procreating too.
Don’t get me wrong. I love babies. All babies. I have one about the same age as Prince George. They even look similar – apart from the absence of jam in his hair.
William and Kate are quite lovely too. But liking pleasant people who occasionally wear crowns and robes doesn’t mean I want them associated with my constitution.
By default, Australia’s push to become a republic gets caught up in this flag-waving, baby-gazing spectacle.
The simple question is – in modern, multicultural Australia, should we have an Australian or a foreign head of state?
For me it’s like being asked: “Would you prefer a glass of Penfolds Bin 389 or a glass of flat warm beer?”
William and Kate aren’t relevant to the future of Australian society no matter how warm and fuzzy we may feel about the fourth in line to the throne.
Becoming a republic has nothing to do with disrespecting the Queen or our past. It’s about diversity. It’s about recognising the rightful place of indigenous Australians in our history. It’s about our evolving relationships with Asia and the Pacific.
It’s about us.
It is important for us as a nation to become fully and unambiguously independent.
How can unifying and strengthening our sense of identity be such a bad thing?
Is it really that radical to ask for a head of state who can speak, not just for us, but as one of us, who can lead important national conversations – and with an accent from our shores?
A woman or man selected on merit. Not birthright.
Finally, after a decade and a half of inertia, the Australian Republican Movement has re-ignited its campaign to deliver this message – with one notable difference from the failed 1999 push.
The ARM has made women a priority this time. (Better late than never). It’s targeting women, bringing them into the dialogue by attracting more women to the cause from the grass roots up.
The reason behind the strategy won’t come as any great surprise. Polling continues to show a significant gender gap when it comes to republic support.
In the most recent Newspoll from June, just 34 per cent of women supported the proposition that we should become a republic, compared with 46 per cent of men (20 per cent of Australians don’t have a view either way).
It’s also not hard to figure out why women have been turned off in the past.
To put it bluntly, it’s been a veritable bloke-fest. Middle aged blokes talking to middle aged blokes. Not to mention the perception of it being elitist and Sydney-centric. It’s hardly surprising it didn’t resonate with women.
The Scots haven’t made the same mistake. Women are participating at every level on both sides of the Scottish independence debate, which observers say will have benefits beyond polling day on September 18.
“The story isn’t the official ‘yes’ or ‘no’ campaigns, it’s grassroots activism; women organising a coffee morning with no politicians, no slogans, no banging fists – just honest connection,” said independence campaigner Lesley Riddoch.
Interestingly, there’s been a surge towards women voting ‘yes’ in the final weeks.
There are lessons here for the ARM.
The case for a republic is compelling. Societies evolve. Our values and ideals change with them.
That applies to the way you present your case as much as the argument itself.
The AFL finals can do funny things to sensible people. But an Adelaide supporter barracking for the Power against an interstate side? Not this Crows fan.
It was put to me this week that a strange, unifying force had swept South Australia bringing with it newfound love between Adelaide and Port Adelaide fans.
The state was supposedly awash with pride thanks to the aura of Adelaide Oval.
Somehow, old tensions had been diluted to the point where Crows fans would – wait for it – barrack for Port in September. The Crows aren’t playing in the finals so the locals switch allegiances to their crosstown rivals for September.
It’s a nice idea but it’s also total rubbish.
I’m all for love but nothing about Port makes me go warm and fuzzy – well, unless someone misses a goal from twenty metres out directly in front.
The rivalry is and always will be ferocious.
Yes, Adelaide Oval is magnificent. At last South Australian footy fans have a place of worship in the heart of the city. The ground has kept its old charm. The historical scoreboard and grassy area still exist and the viewing experience is superb.
There is a sense of pride for all South Australians but, no matter how impressive the redevelopment is, it doesn’t have the power to erase hostilities that date back to a time long before the Crows and Port entered the AFL.
I’m a proud South Australian. I round my vowels, I speak with bogus authority about wine and get away with it, I’ve cage-dived with Great Whites and I firmly believe the Coffin Bay oyster is the greatest living creature on earth (and even better shucked with a twist of lemon).
But I just don’t buy into all this bipartisan nonsense.
I’m not denying strange forces in football. There’s one gripping Melbourne at the moment. Bizarrely Carlton and Collingwood fans have jumped on the Richmond bandwagon.
My guess is it has very little to do with state pride and more to do with temporary insanity coupled with a feeling the Tigers will be knocked out in the first week of the finals.
If anything, the rivalry between the Crows and Port is stronger than ever. Both clubs have found new things to get hot under the collar about, a new set of honours – the loudest crowd, best pre-match entertainment, highest attendance figures, best haircut and any other dubious records associated with the move to Adelaide Oval.
Everything is a competition.
That’s what really lies beneath this seemingly cosy feeling of shared pride in Adelaide Oval.
Port Power is a force on and off the field. The club, once seen as a poor cousin, is now a legitimate adversary. The gloves are well and truly off.
There was, however, joint outrage over the Port guernsey farce. Not enough to warrant an offer of help to stitch numbers on the hastily arranged batch of prison-bar jumpers but a mutual feeling of anger towards the AFL over its perceived double standards on the issue of clash jumpers.
‘Jumper-Gate’ aside, I’m not convinced by the state pride argument. It’s just a tool used by the tabloids to whip readers into a state of frenzy to sell papers.
Of course there will always be those people who put state before club and that’s beautiful and noble.
I’m sure a few tartan rugs will make their way to Adelaide Oval on Sunday for the Port/Richmond elimination final just for the experience of being at the first finals game at the venue. One or two of these fans may even barrack for Port.
I’m just not wired that way.
When you believe something’s important it’s great to get an opportunity to speak about it. So thank you….
And if I unexpectedly burst into song please forgive me… it’s just very exciting to be up here with two other women. That doesn’t happen in my normal work life…
One woman on a sports panel is rare, more than one – well let’s just say there’s more chance of Melbourne winning a premiership. In the next decade. Or Tony Abbott joining Greenpeace. And converting to Buddhism.
Okay down to business – No matter how we dress this up -the simple question is – in 2014, in modern, multicultural Australia, should we have an Australian or a foreign head of state?
For me it’s like being asked would I prefer a glass of Penfolds Bin 389 or a glass of flat warm beer?
Surely a country that produced the bionic ear, x-ray crystallography and penicillin-based anti-biotics is grown up enough to stand on its own two feet? It’s certainly smart enough.
We need to ask a few more questions – how do we see ourselves? What do we represent? What’s our culture and identity and how do we feel as a country?
Are we comfortable with the idea of somebody, who lives a very different life to most of us, being linked to our affairs? Isn’t there a principle at stake?
Let’s grow up and embrace our future – how can unifying and strengthening our sense of identity be such a bad thing?
This comes down to how we feel about change – because the question of whether we want true independence is surely a no-brainer.
Sometimes we can be led to believe that it’s safer to just do as we are told and not rock the boat – even if that boat sailed in more than couple of hundred years ago.
Change is important for us to evolve. It requires vision, courage, tenacity and perseverance.
Henry Lawson, like so many 19th century republicans wrote about the “inevitable republic” in “A Song of the Republic”.
Sons of the South, aroused at last…
Free from the wrongs of the North and Past
The land that belongs to you.
Here we are some 130 years later – and we’re not truly independent. We haven’t let go.
It’s all a little bit embarrassing.
Change doesn’t have to happen at the speed of continental drift.
How totally absurd it is that we don’t have an Australian head of state. Our children should be able to aspire to that position. Just as they can to be Prime Minister.
I grew up with two bold ambitions – to play netball for Australia and become the country’s first woman prime minister.
I didn’t reach either goal (literally in the first case and having watched Julia’s Gillard’s period in office closely I’m not sure I would have had thick enough skin for the job).
We need someone who can speak, not just for us, but as one of us, who can lead important national conversations – and with an accent from these shores.
A woman or man selected on merit.
Let’s face it – our constitution, on this matter, doesn’t reflect our democratic and egalitarian values.
There are people amongst us, probably not in this room, who swear allegiance to the Queen ahead of their country.
Who could possibly think this is ok?
Well the people who think this is a great idea believe in birthright above merit. And bonus points if you’re a boy. They take delight in Dames and Knights and castles and carriages.
Becoming a republic is not about disrespecting our past. It’s not about burying the British features of our identity.It’s not about trashing our traditions, institutions, court or parliamentary systems.
It’s about us not them!
To quote Paul Keating:
“An Australian republic is not an act of rejection, but one of recognition…our deepest respect is for an Australian heritage…our deepest responsibility is to Australia’s future.”
The debate must be about the future of Australian society, not about the future of the British royal family, no matter how gorgeous the third in line to the throne is.
What does it mean to be Australian?
This conversation needs to be played out in our homes, schools, workplaces, pubs, at the footy, everywhere we gather.
We’re a multicultural society.
Waves of migrants from many different cultures call Australia home.
Our diversity is one of our strengths. Though some people need constant reminding of this.
As the daughter of Stavros Pippos and Athena Koufalakis I’m well qualified to speak about this topic today.
We Greeks know a thing or two about republicanism because we invented it.
The Romans copied us – but that’s nothing new!
Athens and Sparta were “Classical Republics”.
Plato and Aristotle wrote about it.
Is there anything we Greeks didn’t invent?
Only a Republic can embody our cultural diversity.
We have evolving relationships with Asia and the Pacific.
And most of us have a strong desire for reconciliation with Indigenous Australians.
Our Indigenous heritage dates back long before the First Fleet.
It’s time to recognise the rightful place of Indigenous Australians in our history.
A move to a republic would provide a good platform for us as a nation to address the deep-rooted social and economic disadvantages that prevent Indigenous Australians from having the same quality of life as the rest of us.
We all know the statistics. And they are shameful.
So what stands in our way of becoming a republic?
The tabloids, would like us to think it’s the popularity of the younger royals.
Our job as republicans is to cut through all the celebrity hoopla and remind people of what it would mean for our country to be fully and unambiguously independent with an Australian head of state.
Yes, the young royals are photogenic and eager to please but what does it all really mean? The royal family itself has been around a long time and although it is strongly opposed to change it does have a remarkable ability to re-invent itself – and to market itself. It also understands the need to do so.
Who doesn’t love a cute baby?
I certainly do. I have one about the same age as George. In pictures they even look similar – apart from the bodyguards, 43 nannies and designer overalls. But liking pleasant people who occasionally wear crowns and robes doesn’t mean I want them associated with my constitution – no matter what happened a long time ago.
This has nothing to do with disrespecting the Queen. I want my son to grow up in an Australian republic – a country that welcomes royals when they visit – but doesn’t fawn and obsess about them and doesn’t have one of them as our head of state.
Does having a republic mean that we suddenly lose all our history and friendship with Britain – absolute nonsense – of course we won’t.
Young Australians will still make the pilgrimage to Earls Court and pink-skinned backpackers will still get caught in rips off Bondi.
There will still be work visas applied for and the two-way cultural exchange will long continue. We will marry them, make fun of them and they will marry and make fun of us.
They will still be Poms.
I have one at home myself – VERY English and fiercely in favour of an Australian republic.
We’ll still take special pleasure in winning the Ashes and beating them in any kind of sport. That’s not going to change.
Does this mean the end of our participation in the Commonwealth games? No, of course not. That would only happen if we decided to not take part.
And what about during troubled times – during war? Would Britain still be an ally?
We are certainly living in very troubled times – but we do share many of the same values and sensibilities as Britain. Britain will always be a good friend and ally – But really when it comes to help and alliances in these sorts of circumstances it’s no secret, post WW2, that we are tightly nestled up to Uncle Sam.
Speaking of which, America is a republic and so is France and Germany and India and Brazil and Switzerland and on and on – and my point here is that not all republics are as shambolic and bankrupt as monarchists would have us believe.
The People’s Republic of Moreland is another fine example.
To become a republic – we need a vote – and the cost of this should not act as a deterrent. Important decisions are all part and parcel of democratic process. This is money well spent!
The ARM model is right.
The first question we need to agree on is do we want a truly independent country with an Australian head of state? Yes or no? The selection method of our head of state should come after that, followed by a referendum.
Australia, we are a grown up and assured country, now is the time to let go of the hand of Mother England. We can walk tall without assistance.
But we must be unified in this cause. Now is the time to reignite the push and I applaud the ARM for stepping up its campaign.
Societies evolve – often too slowly for my liking – but they change. Our values and ideals change with them.
Our constitution has been amended over the years – not too many times – but it has happened. It’s ridiculous to be chained to a strict set of rules written with a pot of ink and a quill feather.
It needs to be modernised again to reflect the independent, multicultural nation we are today.
Is that such a terrifying idea?
When Australia becomes a republic that will be a defining moment in our history.
The world will keep turning. Life will continue on as it always has. For the rest of the planet it won’t mean that much – but for us it will be the start of a new chapter. It will mean something.
Our children and their children, the Sons and Daughters of the South, will look back on this time as a key factor in the shaping of THEIR modern Australia.
Tania Hird has become the latest woman to be blighted with unnecessary descriptors about her appearance in the media. Angela Pippos has had enough.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was to read about Tania Hird wearing a winning combination of a trench coat and knee-high boots to the Federal Court hearing into Essendon’s supplements program.
For a minute there I thought she was going to turn up to court in a sequined Brownlow frock, exposed back and eight-inch stilettos. Good on her for checking the weather forecast first.
Swapping the black trench for camel on day two was a masterstroke. Simple, yet elegant and practical. I’d expect nothing less from Ms Hird because, not only is she a savvy dresser, she’s a “blonde lawyer”.
(Just like James is a “blonde, windswept former coach” and Paul Little is a “bald chairman”.)
At least now we have a better understanding of the case. From the tailored cut of her Burberry coat we can tell James is innocent.
Sadly, these kind of irrelevant details aren’t peculiar to this story. Sportswomen are all too frequently described this way.
Take two-time Commonwealth Games trap shooting gold medalist Laetisha Scanlan. She isn’t blonde but she’s single and looking for love.
Headline writers your time starts now.
“Now Laetisha sets sights on love”.
“Golden girl Scanlan looking for a shotgun wedding”.
Scanlan “now needs to find a man”.
These were all highlighted on the ABC’s Media Watch program recently.
Commonwealth Games Association President Sam Coffa led the chorus of criticism.
“I am appalled about this type of reporting in regard to our Australian team and would like to see the athletic achievements and high standards of our female athletes properly reported,” he said.
The President of the Australian Womensport and Recreation Association Deidre Anderson called it unprofessional and disrespectful journalism.
“This type of reporting undermines women’s sport to the point where their athletic achievements are diminished and even lost.
“They have trained endlessly and sacrificed so much and deserve better”, she said.
Meanwhile a TV network was feverishly compiling its list of the hottest Australian female athletes at the Commonwealth Games.
Congratulations to the genius who came up with that idea.
Over in the newspaper world a footy survey was asking who is our hottest WAG? It’s a question that comes up this time every year and it’s an important one too. Stats show the team with the hottest WAG gets more contested footy and is more accurate in front of goal.
For those of you who’ve been lying awake at night wondering, Megan Gale took out the prestigious award. I’m sure Damien Hardwick is delighted.
In a TV studio not far away the comedy gods were rolling around the floor as Sam Newman accidently flashed his penis while a scantily clad nurse was bending down to pick up a pen.
There seems to be a relentless need still, in this supposed enlightened day and age, to fixate on what women wear, how they look and their relationship status.
It all boils down to a very simple question. Do you want your daughters portrayed like this?
To the young women who proudly define themselves by the hashtag – I Don’t Need Feminism – think about this.
Do you want to vote, be judged on merit, control your own body; be paid the same as men and own property? Do you want to be safe in your home and on the streets? Do you want to be equal with men?
Do you think you deserve the same respect as men?
I’ve written about this before and I will write about it again.
This stuff matters.