Raising the BARR – Week ending 9/02/2024

Raising the Barr


Thirty years ago, I was watching the Final of the US Tennis Open. At the presentation, in the background, there were at least 10 flag bearers holding aloft the good old stars and stripes flag of the US, leaving the viewer with no room for a lack of awareness regarding where the match was being played.

Fast forward 25 years and beyond. There is no doubt in my mind that I have noticed a distinct increase in flag bearing messaging, not just in the US of A, but also right here in Australia. Have you noticed it too?

It seems that so many messages now, be it bumper stickers or beach towels, are making the point, whatever the point is, as being on behalf of the whole country and everyone that walks under that same flag. Why?

I mean I am no fan of Scott Morrison. That won’t surprise anyone. But during COVID when he wore his Australia flag facemask or during his time as Prime Minister when he insisted that he himself and all of his MPs wore the Australia badge pin on their coat, I got creeped out by some of the ridiculous (my opinion) things that he was saying while also embracing the full force of our nation behind his words by having the flag with him.

Instead of the flag being used to bind us together, it was being used in a way as to say – you’re either with us, or you’re against the country. No Scott, I am all for the country, but I thought you were terrible at your job. And making me feel “bad” or “disloyal” in my dislike for you, while you were bearing the nation’s flag, was exactly what you were weaponising and hoping would happen.


I have had the good fortune in recent weeks to talk to a couple of local fishing gurus about the idea of constructing an offshore wind farm out from Port Stephens. It should surprise nobody that we have many keen fishos in our neck of the woods – just look at the number of trailered boats in driveways and backyards.

The question of offshore wind farms is obviously a tricky issue, and I would hope that people don’t just go to their corner of either yes or no and shut their ears to the other opinions.

If the wind farms are put too close to shore, then there will be an obvious visual impact. If the wind farms are put out near the edge of the continental shelf, then there will be impacts on the sport of fishing. Science seems to indicate that the wind farms won’t impact whale migration. Exclusion zones around each individual wind turbine could create a massive barrier to movement “through” the zone if the turbines are closer than 500m to each other but could equally be solved by having “gaps” in the turbines every 5km or so. I could go on.

In this discussion, there are many sensible people that want to find good outcomes which will require some compromise if offshore wind farms do go ahead. And here I pause to emphasise the “if”. It is still unclear if the engineers that design and build these things can actually work with our ocean and seabed in a cost-effective way that will make sense to the accountants. It may be that our coastline is just too difficult, or expensive, to work with, and the investors may prefer other options. But importantly, we need a good representation of sensible people to be at the table for the discussion.