Monthly Mailbag – November 2019
Bondi’s Australia Day – An Event to be Proud of
As a Bondi/Eastern Suburbs resident since 1980, I’ve had the annual pleasure of experiencing Festival of the Winds for 39 of its 42 years. The day rightly starts with the acknowledgement of the Gadigal people and Eora Nation, and a traditional smoking ceremony. From that point on, Bondi really turns it on with clear blue skies, light southwest winds and, just to set the perfect backdrop, a solid 4-5 foot swell pumps into the bay.
Many stages around our town hall, Bondi Pavilion, feature such diverse performances from electric sitar to Morris dancers, local kids’ bands, hip hop and contemporary dance, African drumming, etc. and down on the promenade Bondi Beach Radio keeps the tens of thousands of people getting a groove on and smiling as they check out the sky full of kites.
What strikes me as so undeniably great about this event is the Australian people, from literally everywhere on the globe, all enjoying the shared experience of spending the day at our beautiful Bondi Beach. Given the 100,000 plus crowd, the patience, tolerance and good vibes all round are something we can all be genuinely proud of, proving beyond any doubt that as a community and society we are capable of unity and inclusion, and also proving that to be proud Australians we don’t need to wear a Chinese-made Aussie flag beach towel as a cape!
Us locals are sometimes critical of Waverley Council, but serious credit and a big thumbs up must be given to the organisers and massive team of workers who create and make this huge event the jewel in Bondi and Waverley’s crown.
The Story of Boss and Billy
Boss and Billy were my beautiful hand-raised roosters, who were living happily in my backyard, and had been for the past two years. Boss and Billy were characters of the neighbourhood, providing the community with a daytime chorus of serenades. Locals often commented how comforting and back to nature it made them feel.
Until I was told by Council that there had been a complaint and I had to re-home my beautiful boys. With great sadness we had to find another home for our pets, members of our family.
Boss and Billy spent their days peacefully in my backyard, but from 7.30pm to 7.30am they slept indoors.
To the complaining neighbour: you have taken away an asset to the community and left a void in our neighbourhood. We hope that you are happy that you no longer hear the occasional crowing of our roosters during the day. It’s a pity it isn’t as easy to remove the noise from buses, trucks, planes and construction work from our neighbourhood.
The Joys of Pearl
Hi Pearl – As per usual, an excellent insight into society (Has Australia Reached Peak Commission and Inquiry?, The Beast, October 2019). Can we add to your request for Royal Commissions a Royal Commission into petrol prices? Really, what is going on? For those of us who travel across ANZAC Parade it is really noticeable. Reading your contribution to The Beast is an absolute joy.
Suzanne Dundord’s article on “Capturing Climate Opportunities” (The Beast, October 2019) starts with Albert Einstein. Like the children at Bronte Public School and my own children at South Coogee Public School, little Albert attended a state school. Young Albert’s school – Luitpold Gymnasium – was a state school like any other school in Germany.
Unlike in Australia, it was generously funded by the state. Today, things are different in Australia. Under the Liberal Party’s rule – Abbott, Turnbull, ScoMo – state schools are systematically underfunded while private schools are overfunded. As Trevor Cobbold wrote recently, “Australia’s four richest schools spend more on new facilities than the poorest 1,800 schools combined… fuelled by big increases in government funding.” (The Guardian, August 14). In other words, ScoMo and his Liberal mates give to those who already have.
It is Robin Hood in reverse – taking from the average Australian to give to the rich. This looks like socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. Good to know that our hard-earned tax money goes to the elite in so-called “private” schools, generously overfunded by the state. Perhaps there is a reason why our children sit on plastic chairs while others have lavish leather sofas, huge swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.
One should not believe that this has anything to do with education. Overfunding the elite will not lead to better educational outcomes. More tennis courts will not move Australia anywhere close to Finland, the recognised world leader in education. ScoMo will not do what Finland does. Finland’s teachers are well educated and well paid, Finnish schools are well-funded and funding is spread out to all schools. Overfunded “private” elite schools do not exist in Finland and they did not exist in Albert Einstein’s time. Perhaps they should not exist here either.
The Denigration of South Africans Continues
The satirical, tongue in cheek tone of your magazine is mostly entertaining and generally innocuous, however your editorial comment (Welcome Note, The Beast, October 2019) relating to the response of “irate South Africans” to Dan Wyllie’s comments in the September edition of The Beast have just added insult to injury.
In the October edition welcome note, your frivolous dismissal of readers’ comments by referring to Dan’s statements as “lighthearted banter”, and implying his comments shouldn’t be taken seriously as “political correctness is on hold”, is a cop out and a further denigration of those readers who wrote in.
Feeling offended by comments pertaining to race, religion, ethnicity, etc. has nothing to do with political correctness or not having a sense of humour. To diminish the significance of the insidious dangers of allowing your publication to be a platform where it is okay to be offensive to a particular group of people is contrary to the spirit of a ‘fair go’, multiculturalism and non-discrimination – the bedrock values of our country.
I would have anticipated at least an acknowledgement of poor editorial judgement, if not a mea culpa regarding publishing Dan Wyllie’s insulting and damaging comments about his dislike of South Africans. Instead you have minimised the issue.
This is a serious matter and hopefully your sloppy editing doesn’t indicate a slippery slide into providing carte blanche for expressions of bigotry in The Beast. One of the reasons why I left South Africa was to escape this type of bigotry.
It wouldn’t surprise me if we next hear from Dan Wyllie that he didn’t mean any harm as “some of my best friends are…”
Not The Real Deal
Dan Wyllie suggested that he may get some payback for his comments about his hatred of South Africans and the “cultural seepage” caused by South Africans moving in to Randwick. He certainly deserves it.
I find these Trumpian comments abhorrent in the extreme. Yes, I am a South African who emigrated to Australia in 1986. I love the country and what it has given me. Some of my ex-countrymen have come to this country with an entitled attitude and alienated locals like Mr Wyllie. Many others, white, brown and black, are wonderful people who left the country because of their hatred of apartheid. They have integrated well in Australian society and their contributions to Australia are way in advance of their relatively small numbers here.
How disappointing and indeed offensive that this gentleman has dumped on an entire nation. How does he think Mexicans in the US felt when Donald Trump made similar comments about them?
As much as Mr Wyllie hates all South Africans I would venture to say that many locally born people would find his comments insufferably smug and arrogant and exemplifying the worst traits of the privileged class in this country.
In general, most residents of the Eastern Suburbs have a lifestyle which cannot be emulated anywhere. We really need to accompany that with humility, tolerance and a lack of discrimination to other nations, religions and races. If this gentleman would care to meet with me I would be only too happy to discuss this matter further.
Stop Your Whinging
Hello James and Dan (and good health to you) – I have just been reading the October issue of The Beast… Wah, wah, wah! So much crying! From South Africans, I see, and also comments about poor dear Pearl’s lurid little articles.
May I just send some comments to all these lovely people who write irate letters: Please, relax, grow up and accept the opinions from letters and articles in The Beast sent by all the friendly readers in the Eastern Suburbs. If you disapprove, well, you can move on.
In our Eastern Suburbs we love everybody, even the creeps (bless them). I seem to recall an old adage that says something like, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It is, simply, a matter of attitude. An easy and open mind. Or not.
Probably Mr Dan Wyllie (Dan Wyllie – The Real Deal, The Beast, September 2019) has met, regrettably, only unpleasant people from South Africa, like the whingers who cried in. The spate of letters which The Beast so honorably published in full demonstrate their unbiased honesty and rectitude to journalism. That’s why The Beast is such a lovely little winner in our midst.
I find political correctness to be narrow-minded and boring! It is the curtain behind which insecure people hide. Come on! Let’s celebrate, in the right frame, the freedom of words.
Hugs to all colour, creed, cooks and contributors reading The Beast.