Local identities deserve as much credit as Rush

THIS is a sports column, right.

So why on earth is this gibberer writing about the Australian of the Year?

That’s a good question – and it deserves a reasoned response and agreeable answer.

Plainly, the Australian of the Year is far removed from the usual guff that appears in The Notebook.

Usually it’s filled with random thoughts on Group Nine, the NRL, the AFL, Riverina Football League, the fabulous Farrer League, Wagga soccer and various other obscure subjects, including Manly.

Never, ever has it centred on the Australian of the Year.

To catch up, actor Geoffrey Rush was named Australian of the Year on Australia Day last week.

As I haven’t seen one of the movies made by Geoffrey Rush, I will have to take the word of others that he is a really good actor.

Presumably he makes plenty of money from acting – he certainly wins enough awards for it.

Still, I can’t quite grasp why he should get to be Australian of the Year.

I suppose he might give away the majority of his movie-money to charity, but, from what I’ve read, he doesn’t.

That’s fair enough too because most of us don’t hand over most of our weekly, fortnightly, monthly or otherwise pay to charitable causes.

Rush obviously does some very good work in the community and should be commended.

Like others, I just don’t think he should be made Australian of the Year for it.

When Rush makes a film, he is just doing his job – and getting well paid.

On this score, he’s exactly the same as anyone else, including your average Wagga butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

They do a job of work and get paid for it.

Not as much as Rush, but usually enough on which to live.

Along the way they may give to charity – a dollar here or $10 there.

They definitely won’t win Australian of the Year.

No, I suppose they could if they did something remarkable in their spare time.

I’m thinking things like untold hours of unpaid work for charitable organisations or other wonderful deeds that might normally go unnoticed.

Unlike Rush, they won’t get Australia’s top honour for doing their regular job or appearing at some charity fund-raiser or other.

Walking the red carpet is surely not that hard?

Now, this isn’t about Tall Poppies.

I just don’t think an actor who does nothing much else except act should be Australian of the Year.

I would feel exactly the same way if some professional cricketer, golfer, swimmer etc got the nod for doing only what he gets paid to do.

In the past, sportsmen have been given the accolade, but, I’m positive, for doing more than just scoring runs, scoring tries, shooting birdies or breaking 48 seconds in the pool.

There has to be more to it – there has to be some point to it.

Unless the person in question has raised a fortune for charity, worked in war-torn countries or something along those lines, they should not be given the Australian of the Year award.

This isn’t a personal attack on Rush or anyone else – it’s completely and utterly about the system.

Surely, the Australian of the Year has to do something to benefit Australia ... not make good movies or take 10 wickets in a Test.

Surgeons who save lives with ground-breaking operations or scientists who make medical breakthroughs deserve to be Australian of the Year.

Their work is important ... critical.

Yes, they get nicely paid, but I think they deserve double whatever they get, plus a bit more.

Doctors do get the Australian of the Year award sometimes, but they also get brushed.

Given a choice, I’d prefer to see a volunteer from the SES or Rural Fire Service get the award when some medical marvel doesn’t.

Someone who has fought fires, saved homes or saved lives in a cyclone would be a perfect recipient.

These are Australia’s true heroes and everyone of them should be lauded as a great Australian.

Volunteering is what it is all about.

In sport, these are the people that keep things moving.

The day that people stop volunteering to do all manner of tasks in sporting clubs or associations is the day these

organisations just won’t exist anymore.

That’s why the Ted Ryder Award in Wagga is so important – it’s given to someone who volunteers their time and effort in sport in the city.

Peter Fitzpatrick got the Ted Ryder Award on Australia Day for his “dedication and involvement in the administration” of various athletic pursuits such as Wagga Road Runners and Lake To Lagoon Fun Run.

Advertiser colleague Ken Grimson wrote that Fitzpatrick “gets the biggest kick from his sport from encouraging young people to be healthy”.

Now if that’s not a worthy endeavour than I must be a complete imbecile, which is possible.

Recognising people like Peter Fitzpatrick and Bill Robertson and Nola Scott – they were inducted into the Wagga Sporting Hall of Fame last week – is equally significant as Geoffrey Rush getting his award, possibly more so.

Fitzpatrick, Robertson and Scott rarely ever get a mention in the newspaper or on TV.

They certainly haven’t won an Academy Award – or ever will.

KNOCKING women’s professional golf is easy.

There is something silly about a sport where a 14-year-old girl can win a major tournament or event.

Lydia Ko is an amateur but beat the professionals in the NSW Open in Sydney at the weekend.

She’s been tagged a “golfing prodigy”, which is surely right.

However, she should not be winning a tournament like the NSW Open.

It would never happen in men’s golf – a 14-year-old kid wouldn’t have a hope in Hades of matching it with the adults.

The prospect is too laughable to even imagine.

Women’s golf at a professional level will sink without trace if this continues to happen.

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