Stab Magazine | Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew Is Running For The Seat Of Burleigh
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Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew Is Running For The Seat Of Burleigh

The ’78 World Champion and Australian surfing icon joins the Queensland Labor Party. 

news // Aug 16, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Queensland state election is looming – October 31st – and it will be the first poll that counts* since the pandemic kicked off in March. The incumbent Labor party and their leader Annastacia Palaszczuk are slightly trailing in the polls – despite voters overall supporting the party’s response to the pandemic, particularly strong border closures – and it looks to be a tight battle.

In Australian elections however, you don’t vote for the leader, you vote for a local representative. And the Queensland Labor party has recently secured a new face for the seat of Burleigh: the 1978 World Surfing Champion, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, who also received an Order of Australia in 2009. 

Rabbit was asked personally by Annastacia to run for the seat, and he gladly accepted. While not openly political in recent years, he does have some prior experience in the bureaucratic realm. Rabbit was President of the Association of Surfing Professionals from 1999 to 2009 and CEO for the first four of those years. 

Historically, the Gold Coast is politically conservative and the current MP for the seat is a Liberal-National Party member by the name of Michael Hart who won the seat by more than 5-percent in 2017. To overcome this intellectual malaise, the Labor Party is hoping that a well-known and loved character from the region can win the seat back for the first time since 2012. 

Party politics aside, you would struggle to find many individuals in the Gold Coast with a bad word to say about Wayne. Furthermore, the GC is obviously chock full of surfers, and considering how politically disengaged they generally are a surfing hall-of-famer may just spark an interest. 

Anna & Rabbit this morning. Photo: ABC News

“I’ve known Rabbit for many years, having first worked with him to secure the designation of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve,” Premier Palaszczuk said this morning at a waterside presser.

“Rabbit has shown himself over many years to be a passionate and effective advocate for his community. You only have to meet him once to see how much he loves the Gold Coast community. I know Rabbit and I know we’ll work well together in Government to make the southern Gold Coast an even better place to live.”

Rabbit himself also had a few, evidently scripted, words to say at the conference alongside the Queensland Premier. 

“Like many Queenslanders, I have been so impressed by the Premier’s leadership during this COVID-19 global pandemic. She has kept Queenslanders safe which has meant the Gold Coast can start getting on the move again.

“When I worked with the Premier to secure the World Surfing Reserve I could tell how much she cared about the Gold Coast. I also know that she gets things done which is another reason I was so attracted to this opportunity. I plan to use my experience and understanding of this community to protect our lifestyle here and get results.

“That means better public transport, more secure local jobs, fighting against inappropriate development and continuing to protect our ocean.”

Politics may seem an odd place for a surfing world champion, but if a dullard fired from Tourism Australia can hold the highest office, I believe Wayne is more than competent to represent the few thousand people of Burleigh. 

As of publishing, Stab has reached out for an interview with Wayne. Assuming it goes ahead, if you want to ask a serious question of Wayne directly, you can email it to [email protected]

If you just want to get some upvotes, comment below!

*There’s a Northern Territory state election prior, but it won’t act as much of a barometer for the political atmosphere in the rest of the country. “The territory, of course, is a politically eccentric place,” as Mike Seccombe put it in yesterday’s Saturday Paper. 

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