So much has been made of the advertising of the upcoming horse race on Saturday and the fact that talk radio show host Alan Jones was using his influence with the chair of the Opera House Board as well as the premier to advertise the race. Protests by over 200,000 people on line meant that the actual draw was done this afternoon. Still thousands have gone down to protest the using of the Opera House sails as a glorified billboard despite the premier and the prime minister thinking it is an ok idea.
The Opera House is an iconic building. Besides Uluru, kangaroos, koalas, and the Great Barrier Reef, few things represent Australia so clearly as the Opera House. To use a national symbol as a billboard is wrong. One can't imagine Buckingham Palace advertising MacDonalds.
Second, for many horse racing is a sport. They go bet a few dollars and cheer on their favourite horse. But many people have problems with gambling. They bet no matter what and often lose everything looking for that big win. For every big winner there are hundreds of losers otherwise the horse owners, trainers, jockeys, bookies and the track staff could not be paid. For the winners, their bet paid off but their winnings meant that many people had to lose to payout their purse.
Third, I realise that for some Alan Jones is national treasure. He does attract a large radio audience. He made his name known in sports. His opinions, although often quite controversial, do get noticed. He was even named in the dumping of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, where he worked the phones trying to win Peter Dutton the Liberal Leadership. What does it say about us, when we allow journalists to bully politicians and board chairs? Aren't journalists supposed to report the news, rather than make the news.
I think national treasures should really reflect the nation. The pyramids are a symbol of Egypt. The CN Tower is the symbol of Canada. Big Ben is a symbol of England. Since the seventies, the Opera House has come to represent Australia. Show people around the world a picture of the Opera House and they are bound to say it comes from Australia. As such like the pyramids, the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal, the Opera House takes on a rather sacred sense. Therefore, it is wrong to advertise on the sails for anything.
Second, maybe it is time we look at how much we gamble as a society. Lottoland commercials interrupt my favourite television shows promising big wins if I just invest a few dollars. Every news agent sells lottery tickets that get us to think that with just a few dollars, we can live the dream. Within a minute or so block of my flat, one can go to at least two places to play the pokies. For some it is a game. For a few they win. But for some it is an addiction where they endanger the well being of themselves and their families hoping for the big win. Gambling, although a fun game of chance for some, causes bankruptcy, marriage breakdown and family strife for so many others. And I don't know about you, but could I really enjoy my winnings, knowing that I have caused my sisters and brothers pain.
Thirdly, this incident asks the question, who do we allow us to influence us? Who are our heroes? Who speaks for us? Certain people I think should influence us: scientists, elected officials, great novelists, professors, those who raise others up rather than belittling others, etc. But I don't think radio talk show hosts don't make my list. Bullies don't make my lists. Sports figures both active and retired do not make my lists. Maybe we need to ask our media outlets to stop their hero worship of these such people and present a more accurate depiction of who is great and should be listened to, and who is not worthy of getting my attention. Blessings.