Nick Carroll: After 30 Years of Thinking About It, Rabbit Hops Into Politics

18 Aug 2020 21 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Photo: Facebook.com/Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew - Labor for Burleigh

Photo: Facebook.com/Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew - Labor for Burleigh

COASTALWATCH | NICK CARROLL

“I’m Going To Bring All My Passion and Competitive Juices To This”

A cackle comes down the line. “Reporting from party HQ,” announces Rabbit Bartholomew. “I’ve done it!”

He has indeed.

You’d have to be a pretty sleepy surfer not to have heard of Bugs being tapped by Queensland’s Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over the weekend to run for the seat of, where else, Burleigh.

Stepping into the political ring has long been a consideration. “It’s a natural next phase for me,” Bugs says. “I’d thought about it a couple of times, people had talked about me running for Mayor decades ago. I’d been talking with (Sports Minister) Mick de Brenni, I think Mick had me marked down for a run at Mayor. Then there was the Global Wave Conference (on the Goldie in February). I thought after that, I wanna leave my mark and have an influence.

“This one felt right. When I got the call, I straight away thought, right I’m gonna do this.”

Bugs has an instinct for diving in to situations at critical moments, just before the tide turns — usually in his favour. He decided to be a pro surfer when there weren’t any, then suddenly there were, including him. He took the job of ASP CEO when Kelly Slater had just quit the first time 'round and Andy Irons was flirting with a rebel tour; four years later, prizemoney had doubled and the pair were locked in era-defining battle. He has an AM for environmental work, including his efforts on behalf of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve.

Today, well, what is he jumping into?

Burleigh was a Labor seat for a decade from 2001, held by Christine Smith until it was won by Michael Hart in the LNP landslide of 2012. It has a history of being won and held by local identities; Smith was secretary of the Gold Coast Residents’ Association, Hart is a former VP of the Burleigh Chamber of Commerce.

The seat has slowly been swinging back toward Labor since Hart’s first win, and was split in the 2017 election by a growing Greens vote.

But Palaszczuk will have gained popularity with her staunch defence of State rights during the 2020 pandemic. Politics is mostly about timing, and as Rabbit says: “The times are always different. The times are different today, even from January.

“In the real world people really appreciate that we can live a normal life up here right now, and that’s down to her incredible performance in keeping us safe.”

Of the LNP’s recent time in the seat, he says: “Nothing’s been done. The LNP haven’t been active. When they were in power they didn’t spend a dollar here. The reason the M1’s traffic is at a standstill is because they never looked ahead to what was coming.

“They’ve been inactive and I don’t intend to be that. I’m going to bring all my passion and competitive juices to this.”

CW had two things we felt were worth asking Rabbit at this juncture. First: what’s your mission here?

He takes a short breath and rolls: “There’s a perception from Burleigh south that the area is about to be thrown to developers by the (Gold Coast City) Council. People are really afraid of this. They’re worried about the place they love. I want to call on the council to give some real clarity on the issue.

“This is the Gold Coast. It’s always been a holiday place. Families would come up the highway on this magical drive through the (northern NSW) countryside, and drive to Surfers, and there would be the Lennons Hotel, a six storey building, awaiting them. That’s how far my memory goes.

“Yeah the tourism is still at Surfers, that’s where the travellers go, it’s a bit of a concrete jungle. But from Burleigh south it’s still got that charm. It’s still a naturally beautiful place. It’s not 1970 any more, we do have to adjust. But there’s still those reasons people move here to live. Not just visit, but live.

“So there is this huge big juggle being done. There is appropriate development and there’s inappropriate.”

He also wants to see legislation to protect the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve to be carried through to completion, and has an eye on the area’s potential bid for the 2032 Olympics. “I’m an ex athlete, of course I’d like to be involved somehow in that.”

The second question is a harder one. Politics is a game of giving in order to get. What is Bugs ready to give up? This time the breath takes a bit longer to draw.

“Well, there are going to be party lines,” he says after a few moments pass. “It’s more about finding that balance in me, to back the party while maintaining my authenticity.” Like many of us, Rabbit remembers the shit sandwich fed to Peter Garrett when Midnight Oil’s singer stepped into the fray at Federal level. “I love that guy, and you know there were things going on that would have made it hard for him to sleep at night.”

A lot of that stuff lies ahead — and that’s even if he wins the seat in the first place.

He’s definitely gonna have to give up some surfing time, that’s for sure. Rabbit cackles again at that one. “I can go for a surf at 6am no worries, that’s my time. From 8 or 9am, that’s the Premier’s time."

“If I go surf for 45 minutes and get six waves these days I’m stoked. If I go out Snapper for 45 minutes and get one wave, it’s hallelujah!”

The election is on October 31.

You don't see campaign posters that look like this every day.

You don't see campaign posters that look like this every day.


Tags: (create Alert from these tags)

blog comments powered by Disqus
More From Nick Carroll
Nick Carroll: In the Wake of Yet Another Shark Death, Esperance Is a Town in Need

Nick Carroll: In the Wake of Yet Another Shark Death, Esperance Is a Town in Need

The WA Government hasn’t been stepping up in Esperance. It better start now.

23 13 Oct 2020
The Social Visa: Wondering How All These Surf Stars Are Cruising Around Indo? Here Ya Go

The Social Visa: Wondering How All These Surf Stars Are Cruising Around Indo? Here Ya Go

Remember when all this carnage started in March? And how briefly it looked like a whole Indo surf season would be going untravelled?

6 24 Sep 2020
Recent
Remembering Biggest Wednesday, Pumping Empty Cokes, and Can You Go Finless at Teahupo'o?

Remembering Biggest Wednesday, Pumping Empty Cokes, and Can You Go Finless at Teahupo'o?

22 Oct 2020
Brazil's Beachies Look Fun as Hell and Gabriel Medina Is Making the Most of Them

Brazil's Beachies Look Fun as Hell and Gabriel Medina Is Making the Most of Them

1 22 Oct 2020
Watch: Episode 10 of RIVALS – Parko, Mick and Dingo Reflect on the Life and Careers of the "Cooly Kids"

Watch: Episode 10 of RIVALS – Parko, Mick and Dingo Reflect on the Life and Careers of the "Cooly Kids"

18 Oct 2020
Is This the Best Wave Pool in the World?

Is This the Best Wave Pool in the World?

6 17 Oct 2020
Latest News

Remembering Biggest Wednesday, Pumping Empty Cokes, and Can You Go Finless at Teahupo'o?

This Week In Surfing: Ten Things from Surfing & the Internet on the Week That Was October 23 2020

Watch: Episode 10 of RIVALS – Parko, Mick and Dingo Reflect on the Life and Careers of the "Cooly Kids"

Including some necessary carpark banter as the get ready for pumping Snapper

Is This the Best Wave Pool in the World?

All about that ridiculous new WaveGarden pool in South Korea

Popular This Week

Is This the Best Wave Pool in the World?

All about that ridiculous new WaveGarden pool in South Korea

Watch: Episode 10 of RIVALS – Parko, Mick and Dingo Reflect on the Life and Careers of the "Cooly Kids"

Including some necessary carpark banter as the get ready for pumping Snapper

Remembering Biggest Wednesday, Pumping Empty Cokes, and Can You Go Finless at Teahupo'o?

This Week In Surfing: Ten Things from Surfing & the Internet on the Week That Was October 23 2020

Go to Top