Views are bound to vary about who is your least favourite politician in Australia. Right now, my candidate would be Councillor David Olsson of the Yankalilla District Council. Why? Read on.
This is the view from my house. At the bottom of the valley, just the other side of trees, lies Myponga Beach. It is, of course, my local beach. It is just down the road. And it is being devastated by Cr Olsson.
This evening was a beautiful evening. I took my dog Perdita for a walk along the beach before the sun went down. It is a small beach, just some 500 metres from end to end. Despite its beauty, it was pretty empty this evening. A couple of dogs were there and a sole chap a bit off shore on a surf board. Perdita ran up and down in the shallows, as she loves to do. Being a very small beach she ran past me very regularly, each time checking in to see if I had any instructions for her (and if I was going to give a treat). The other two dogs joined in merrily, chasing Perdita and each other with wagging tails and big doggy smiles. It was just me and three dogs on the beach. A lovely happy scene.
But not for Councillor Olsson. He wants to shut such things down. He proposed the awful Dogs By-Law 1916, pursuant to which most of the beach will (if this poisonous law is to be implemented) forbid dogs off leash for most of the beach most of the time.
At present, the whole beach is signed as “off leash”. The sign at the beach entrance has a couple of prohibitions. The first appears to be a prohibition on opening umbrellas on the beach. If it rains, you should be getting wet. OK. We can live with that. It doesn’t rain all that much here, and when it does, we tend to postpone taking our dogs for a run on the beach. The other is against bonfires. This is a bit more curious. The people in charge of tourism in Australia think bonfires on the beach are great (as indeed they are). People come from across the world to enjoy the open-air freedom of Australia. But they had better stay clear of the Fleurieu Peninsular if they think they can enjoy anything like what the posters advertise. Because bonfires on the beach are banned. Except apparently, if they are in the water. So if you happen to have a Viking longship, you can set that alight off Myponga Beach, happy as Larry. Provided you have a boat licence, that is. And provided the boat is equipped with all the required equipment, including a torch and a bucket. Otherwise, you can’t. Oh no. Penalties, they are quick to say, apply. Oh yes.
The sign goes on to say that dogs are allowed “off leash” on the beach. Great! But “off-leash” does not, according to the Council, mean that you can let your dog run around. Oh no. If your dog is running up and down, they will prosecute you for having a dog “wandering at large”. Even though the beach is signed “off-leash”.
After a bit of faffing around, the Council had decided to prosecute me for letting Perdita run up and down on the beach. What prompted this decision? Here is the explanation from the Council:
Over the weekend I have received an e-mail from a mother on another beach explaining how scared her children were with big dogs simply fetching a ball and playing in the shadows away from her children. This is what I was trying to explain to you, even Perdita, well trained and friendly may still scare children…
So, even though my dog Perdita is indeed well trained and friendly, and has never frightened anyone, the fact that some neurotic mother somewhere else in the State thinks that her children might have been frighted by other dogs dogs playing with a ball in the distance means that I am to be prosecuted!
After a while the chap on the surfboard came in this evening. The sea was not producing enough to make surfing worthwhile. His delightful dog stopped running up and down, and joyously greeted the return of its master. We chatted for a while about our dogs, and I told him about the proposed prosecution of Perdita for running up and down and the proposed ban on letting dogs off leash. I heard quite a few expletives. None of them were favourable to the Council. In fact, the vast majority of comments I have heard are adverse to the Council.
Councillor David Olsson had better get used to the prospect of a fair bit of invective to come his way from people upset about his ruining their enjoyment of the beach. Once he has if way (if he has his way) the happy playing of the dogs on the beach this evening will be rendered a criminal offence. As for his re-election prospects: well personally I would prefer to vote for a One Nation candidate or Trotskyist candidate than to return him back to power.