As host of 2SER?s rugby league program, ?A View From The Hill?, I decided to attend the opening of the Legends? Walk at Kogarah?s Jubilee Oval (06/03/2004).
For the St.George community, the project is important from both an historical and a long-term perspective. It is important in the long-term so that funds can continue to be raised for permanent lighting and other enhancements to the ground which Gasnier, Raper and Langlands made famous.
Although there was torrential rain, the afternoon was enjoyable as the legends appeared in person. One aspect, however, was not so enjoyable. Unfortunately one man decided to take all the credit in what was obviously a team effort. Kogarah Mayor Jim Taylor, in what some may view as an exercise in historical revisionism and political correctness, snubbed the R2K (Return To Kogarah) group and what R2K achieved in terms of returning the Dragons to their rightful home in the St.George district. While this may not have been Taylor?s intention, it is my belief that politicians who adhere to historical revisionism and political correctness show a lack of intestinal fortitude. Such Councillors don?t show the strength of character that ratepayers have a right to expect.
Taylor, who at 67, is arguably past his local government expiry date, spouted some of the most egotistical rhetoric that I have ever heard in my time in the St.George district. In what can only be regarded as a slap in the face to both R2K and St.George?s Robert Stone, Taylor stated:
?I make no apology and take full responsibility for being the impetus behind the Dragons? return. I knew that the ripple effect I started would soon turn into a tsunami ? a tidal wave of support. The team left this ground in 1999 and although several half-hearted attempts were made for them to return, nothing came of those efforts.?
While Kogarah Council certainly played a key role in returning the Dragons to Kogarah, no Councillor involved should make a gutless grab for glory. Such behaviour is above Kogarah Council who should do their best to maintain the respect of their constituents. Based on yesterday?s performance, it is no surprise that many ratepayers are crying out for Kogarah Council to be merged into a greater ?City of St.George? Council.
Taylor gave an almost identical speech at the launch of JOCA (Jubilee Oval Community Appeal), which ironically is pronounced as ?Joker?. When I spoke to R2K members yesterday, they were philosophical and not surprised by yesterday?s speech. However, they mentioned that Taylor gave a similar speech at the launch of JOCA in December 2002. Following his speech at the end of 2002, Taylor reportedly apologised to the R2K President Lachlan McLean in Kogarah?s trendy Kaimaki caf?. Apparently Taylor stated that he had made an ?oversight? and claimed the ?half-hearted? attempts comment was aimed at other local political rivals who failed to truly embrace the Dragons at Kogarah concept. While one oversight is pardonable, a second is not, particularly after Taylor?s comments following his original slight.
Perhaps Jim Taylor has made another oversight when he forgets that R2K collected in excess of 5,000 signatures of support for his petition that attracted $800,000 in State Government funding. Perhaps Taylor has forgotten that R2K members marched all over the St.George district handing out JOCA posters and leaflets to assist Taylor and Frank Bates with the Legends? Walk. Perhaps Taylor has forgotten that he wanted to have an R2K representative on JOCA before political correctness and political expedience appeared to come into play again. Then again, perhaps it was another oversight.
Without a doubt, R2K were the most active campaigners on the return of the Dragons to the Kogarah Municipality. R2K exploded the long perpetuated myths that were expressed about Kogarah?s Jubilee Oval and placed the right type of pressure on both Kogarah Council and the St.George Leagues Club board. The success of R2K is an inspiration to rugby league supporters and small community groups everywhere.
Rather than repeating his hackneyed statement about tsunamis, perhaps Taylor should have quoted Revelation instead in yesterday?s speech:
?It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.?
This Saturday on ?A View From The Hill?, we will be taking calls on the ongoing saga at Kogarah?s Jubilee Oval. I welcome the opinions of St.George supporters on Jim Taylor?s speech and I encourage the Kogarah Mayor to have the decency to call my program and outline why he snubbed the local community group that provided his Council with so much support. I will give Mayor Taylor the benefit of the doubt until next Saturday and certainly encourage his call.
May the force be with you!
Robert Corra Phone: 02 9569 0642
A View from The Hill Saturdays 11am-12 Noon 2SER-FM 107.3