Four-time World Champion Mark Richards gives his thoughts on the upcoming federal election.
Who will you vote for this year? Which issues will shape your decision? Which party will best look after our coastline, our marine environment, our treasured surf breaks? Should there be a Surfer’s Party pushing for our own interests like the Shooters and Fishers push for theirs? And if there was would you vote for them? Just some of the questions I put to Nat Young, John Witzig, Brad Farmer (National Surfing Reserves) and Rex Campbell (Surfrider) in the October edition of Tracks. Four times World Champion, Mark Richards missed the print deadline but he shares his thoughts and frustrations with federal politics below.
Who will you vote for and why?
MR: Voting for many people has become a ‘popularity’ contest based on the personalities of the leaders and what they write on Facebook, and not on their political party and politics. It’s time all voters took an interest in the policies before they voted. I recently read someone was voting for KRudd because he didn’t like the way Tony walked!! Our vote is an important thing and we should value the decision more and think about how it impacts on our country's future. Look at the track record of the party you are voting for - what have they achieved and what have they fucked up. The money is not the Government’s to waste - it is our hard earned tax $$$ and should be spent more carefully and without corruption!!
What issues are most important to you in this election?
I’d like to see whoever wins power concentrate on the basic, important things such as health, education, roads and public transport. A wonderful start would be to get the basics right and working properly before they start trying to solve issues in other parts of the world. I read so often that our political leaders worry what the rest of the world thinks of us and our policies... well, what I have learnt from my travels is that most of the rest of the world barely knows we exist and couldn’t give a fuck what we do. Stuff like trying to be on the United Nations and junkets around the world are a waste of money when there are hospitals without basic equipment.
Should surfers be striving to engage more with politics so we can look after our shared interests (in the way that the Fishers and Shooters party look after their interests)?
I think minority parties are more a hindrance to good government than a positive thing. They seem to have a narrow agenda for their own benefit. But hey if there’s a Shooters Party then maybe there should be a Surfers Party. Unfortunately from a tourism perspective our beaches and beautiful coastline are not appreciated enough by the politicians. Tim Baker wrote an article which I absolutely love about the wonders of the world - how Paris had the Eiffel Tower, India the Taj Mahal, and how we have something none of these places could ever have in our beaches and beautiful coastline. If a Surfers Party can help preserve this then I am all for it.
If there ever was a Surfers Party who would make a good leader?
There is no question that Andrew Stark and the team at Surfing Australia would be the leaders I would choose. Their campaign slogan would be: “We get shit done!!” Andrew and the team have a vision and they follow through and make things happen. This is sadly lacking in today’s politics. There is too much spin, and thoughtless reaction to media and public perceptions. You want a party that is prepared to stand up and say “You personally may not like it but this is what we are doing for the good of all the country.” If you ever consider going in to politics... maybe don’t!!! Look what happened to Peter Garrett. It’s tragic when such a high principled person, who we all had so much hope for, is gobbled up by the political machine.
And what about you valued Tracks reader: Who’s got your vote? Who do you distrust the least? Do surfing and coastal-related issues influence your voting decision?