12 Sep 2015

'News' I read on my holidays

6:28 pm on 12 September 2015

OPINION: If travel broadens the mind, then the local knowledge you acquire on your travels deepens it.

A table with newspaper and breakfast on it

Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

On a late winter warm-up on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, I decided a solid daily diet of newspapers would add a layer to what might otherwise be a two-dimensional wallow in sun, warmth and beach culture.

Each day, between my sunrise beachwalk, and balcony breakfast, I hoofed past the newsagents to collect a copy of The Australian, and for local knowledge, the Sunshine Coast Daily.

The SCD quickly shattered first impressions that the coast was simply in eternal summer, where implausibly fit inhabitants all begin their days with a jog, swim, paddle board, surf or boot camp.

No, this is a place where mysterious and sinister things happen to animals. Like the six mini-horses from Nambour High School which turned up at 2am in a McDonald's drive through, unaccompanied.

Interestingly, this nocturnal outing was considered unconnected to the earlier death of a seventh herd member, Buzz.

"When you think of the most gentle harmless human being, and put it in a horse's body - that was Buzz," said teacher Dobi Edwards.

The coast, especially for a visitor from Auckland, is strikingly monocultural. This may explain some of the town planning decisions.

newspapers - Sunshine Coast Daily hiding a copy of the Australian

Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

"ANGER AT 24/7 MOSQUE BID" shrieked the Daily's front page. The Muslim Organisation Sunshine Coast is off to the Planning and Environment Court, after its new Maroochydore mosque was allowed to open on Fridays only between midday and 3pm.

"There is concern that the slamming of car doors and chanting, may disturb residents in the adjacent planned aged-care facility," said Safe Communities president Ron Hutchins.

There are probably bigger car-related worries. Like the 10 drivers a day charged on the Sunshine Coast under "hooning legislation". Worryingly, 20 percent were for "type one" hooning offences.

On the same page came a call from Stephen Struyf who owns the Adults Only Car Shop, for a local racetrack to be built, on which car enthusiasts could hoon.

"Not having a place to do it legally is like having a yacht with no winds to sail," he opined.

Whether or not there's room in the budget is another matter, especially after Jarrod Bleijie's unfortunate whoops.

Mr Bleijie is the Queensland parliamentarian for Kawana - famous for its shopping mall. I passed his office during an outing on the 600 bus to Caloundra.

In happier times, as a former state attorney-general, he pushed through a two-year $2 million trial to divert youth offenders into a boot camp, rather than detention.

Inexplicably the $2 million ended up being $16.7 million. The boot camp was 2.5 times as expensive as detention, and re-offending no better than for those doing time.

The SCD noted Mr Belijie had last year spent $15,000 flying himself, staff and a film crew, in two helicopters to the boot camp, rather than drive.

Which is small change compared to the rogue's gallery who paraded through The Australian in the week I was reading it. I'll spare you those, a strong stomach is needed.

But local news is a must if you're to truly appreciate your chosen destination.

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