Everyone is totally focused on this grand final weekend for our two major football codes that use the ball with the pointy ends. The Americans, by the way, call it the “hand egg”. Let’s hope that one doesn’t catch on.
This is a grand celebration of Aussie sporting culture for tens of thousands at the games, about eight million Australian TV viewers and many more glued to smart screens around the globe.
But increasingly it is also a great celebration of our multiculturalism.
“No dual citizenship problems here,” Charlie says.
Most domestic sports as we know it wouldn’t exist if we put up national boundaries.
If you had to be born in Richmond to compete for the premiership, the club would be struggling to find 20 blokes who pass the skinfold test.
Their brilliant star, Daniel Rioli, comes from as far away as you can be, and still be called an Australian. He, and his legendary family members who have also set the MCG alight, come from the Tiwi Islands in the Torres Strait.
And then there is Bachar Houli, a devout Muslim with Australian Lebanese parents.
NRL grand finalist Melbourne Storm wouldn’t have even got started if they’d tried to find 15 Melburnians who could form a scrum.
And Adelaide star Eddie Betts was formerly a Carlton player who was raised in Kalgoorlie.
So much for borders.
I was thinking these thoughts earlier this week as I flew from Prague to London, and then Melbourne, with British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Florence speech still ringing around Europe. She in effect said: “We’re leaving but it’s going to take a couple more years to work it out. In the meantime, here’s a bundle of cash if you shut up.”
Brexit is a continuously unfolding disaster and we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.
And my Prague flight showed how borders don’t work, especially for business.
I was on one of Britain’s finest airlines but even so, I have this notion that great businesses usually do only one thing well. I assume that they are far better at flying planes than preparing food, so I decided to just have a cup of tea and a scone.
I mean, if Mr Rockpool, Neil Perry, decided to fly the planes as well as make food for Qantas, would you be happy in a seat at 30,000 feet even if the tucker was delish?
Louise, on the other hand, went for a beef focaccia … and then the bathroom.
When my tray arrived, I noticed how integrated Britain and Europe are. The butter was from France and very nice too. The milk was “Product of Deutschland” and the salt and pepper, which had no obvious application, was from Belgium.
Nevertheless, I was sure that an English Breakfast tea would be a great comfort.
But “not bloomin’ likely” as they say.
Sebastian the steward leant close and in hushed, well-rounded tones whispered that “tea was off” because the plane’s waste water had “penetrated” the fresh water tank.
They couldn’t even make a cup of tea.
“Been telling you that for years,” Charlie says.
“Bloody awful,” Louise says.
I’d much prefer she just say “BA”.
So, with a considerable thirst, we arrived in London, only to find that Uber had been banned in the city, despite 500,000 signatures petitioning against the decision. This is 10 times more signatures than the petition to stop the hanging of Ned Kelly. Another unpopular decision with big political implications.
Uber, of course, is hated by the London cabbies, who are a well organised group.
Uber may have governance problems but it has 3.5 million users and 40,000 drivers in London. It’s what is called a “disruptive” industry that observes few traditional regulatory borders imposed by nation-state governments. It’s happening everywhere, with the likes of Airbnb and all that follow in their wake.
Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the business I established in 1976 was also based on the principle of disrupting the fat and the lazy who were protected by internal regulatory borders. They have gone.
The message is clear for Australia. Don’t develop hard borders and then send mixed messages to the world.
We need to be a very strong and independent Australia. It’s clear that this latest move by May is aimed at maintaining trade with Europe while trying to build independent relationships with countries outside the EU. And all of this while telling the home crowd that she will harden the borders.
It won’t work.
Perhaps she should address the nation by reading the Twinings English Breakfast tea packet – “a perfect combination of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas”.
There is a simple truth here. Borders make the world a lesser place. They always have and they always will.