But even a broken clock is right twice a day. And MacKenzie's criticisms of this overblown event should be taken to their logical conclusion:
AMATEURS SHOULD BE SCRAPPED.
Let's face it, Amateurs is a profoundly ignorant event. At one time, Amateurs was the kind of small-town event that allowed everyone to mingle and celebrate. Business owners, political leaders, cane growers, fishermen, hoteliers, leading corporate organisations. All were invited. The men all got pissed, the women all entertained each other with silly hats, and everyone went away blotto.
In 1980, Cairns had less than 50,000 residents, and some 20,000 attended the Amateurs races meetings. It's now 2011, and in a city with triple the population the event struggled to attract 8,000 - a number up from the last two years due to changes made to the event. The punters and public have voted "no" on Amateurs.
And the changes? All designed to keep the "Cairns glitterati" - imports, mexicans, and others in their "special" area away from the common folk. For example, they've now got their own, special marquees in the centre of the track. An "upscale porta-loo truck" brought in special from Brisbane. Security were warned to only speak when spoken to, and use "sir" and "ma'am" to address them. And, the biggest "secret" - hard liquor for the upscale punters, while those around the rest of the track are stuck with beeeah. But, we've made sure it's full strength. The Amateurs transition is almost complete - one event for the hillbillies, and another for the non-hillbillies. Next year the new "separate entrances" proposed in the Cannon Park upgrade will ensure that the two groups won't even be forced to mingle with each other. Guess who's idea that is?
Likewise the fancy dress ball. It used to draw over 2500 for a night out, under the stars at the Tobruk Pool. This year, half of that attended, and complaints were widespread. The music was bad. The catering was horrid - heavens, people only got one prawn, and that was imported! The event was staged in a barn. The service was dodgy. Even the taxi drivers suffered from the laundry list of complaints.
The Cairns Pride beat unbeaten Tweed Heads before a packed crowd on Friday night, with even several pollies including candidate DJ Hunt seeing more value in a rugby crowd then a bunch of overstuffed has-beens.
|FASHION ON THE FIELD FINALISTS|
There are other good arguments against the race weekend. Cannon Park is a waste of a terrific hospital site, a huge piece of prime real estate in the growing south used barely 12 days a year. The massive numbers of drink drivers caught out after these events. The huge subsidies paid by the taxpayers to support an industry built around gambling. Middle-aged women outfitted in clown costumes and silly hats. The hugely corrupt milliners. Even a jockey found to have been cheating! And the obvious fact that the Gen Y's see the whole event as a colossal waste of time and resources.