23 February 2024

Canberra bashing just the usual diversion in disaster-prone deep north

| Ian Bushnell
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AIS statues

The AIS is staying where it belongs. In ‘awful’ Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It starts early in Queensland. The insularity, exceptionalism and the dread of the cold (anything under 20 degrees).

It comes with a huge chip on the shoulder and a wrench whenever you cross the border.

Like me, some of us escape the Moonlight State for long enough to realise that thongs are not really standard footwear, although come State of Origin time, the maroon chip in our brain drags us back into the fold.

Fortunately, it’s just an annual aberration.

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When it comes to politics, there is a unity ticket in Queensland on the state’s favourite pastime – Canberra bashing.

It’s as if every new premier gets the briefing about the frozen wasteland where their state is always cheated of its rightful place in the sun.

This week, Queensland Premier Steven Miles was merely doing his duty, especially during an election year.

Canberra was an ‘awful place,’ he said, whining about the federal government not wanting to blow a billion bucks by relocating the Australian Institute of Sport to Queensland in the lead-up to the Brisbane Olympics.

But as an expatriate who grew up under the ultimate Canberra hater, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, I thought Miles’ performance lacked commitment. The giggle at the end almost gave the game away.

He also should have thought a bit more deeply; in fact, he should have thought even a little about his case for the AIS heading north when he cited the weather and lifestyle.

Cyclones – 207 of them since records began in 1858, a data-driven colleague tells me – floods and apocalyptic storms that have ravaged the southeast in waves over the summer don’t exactly equate to beautiful one day, perfect the next.

Nor is the soup that Queenslanders swim through between air-cons conducive to elite training.

Then there is the lifestyle.

When I lived in Brisbane, the city was an easy, short drive away; now, the state capital is the centre of a freeway-choked megalopolis stretching from the Tweed to Noosa Heads, devouring land and habitat at a frightening pace.

Elite athletes lead a monkish existence. They don’t need to be stuck in traffic getting to a training session or tempted by the fleshpots of Brisbane or Sin City down the road. Just breathing could trip a dope test.

In Canberra, the air and water are pure, nothing is more than 15 minutes away, and the distractions are minimal. I mean, we do want gold, don’t we?

For those who live here, Canberra isn’t that awful. In fact, many would prefer it if people would just keep quiet about it. Not start compiling lists of all its advantages as if they were real estate agents.

No, let’s be smug. Smile knowingly next time you visit the National Gallery, get home from the theatre in 10 minutes, take a stroll through the Arboretum, or … well, I don’t want to say too much.

In fact, it does get cold here. It’s called winter and it’s awful. Mr Miles, you’re right. Stay away.

But you really should focus on getting your Olympic house in order – I hear that’s not going so well – not worrying about pinching a Canberra institution.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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