THE AUSSIE SPIRIT

What an amazing gesture by Aussie bookmaker Sportsbet in refunding nearly half a million to punters backing the Black caps in the World cup final. Who else in the world would have done that?

It’s indisputable that on two counts New Zealand was robbed and nothing evidences that more than Sportsbet’s magnanimous action. “It wouldn’t be fair to take money off New Zealand fans after the Black caps technically didn’t lose”, their spokesman was quoted.

My only quarrel with that are the words “technically didn’t lose”. In fact, “technically” is superfluous. Under the rules which are quite clear, New Zealand won.

I described Sportsbet’s conduct as “amazing”. But in my more than half a century’s involvement commercially and with sport in Australia it’s typical of the way I’ve always been treated in Australia, which is in raw contrast with here.

Way back in my early twenties when I first became involved in commercial property I encountered nothing but sneering. When aged 24 I put my hand up for what is still today Lower Hutt’s tallest building, it was quickly dubbed “Jones Folly”. I made a killing from it which simply compounded the resentment.

No accountant or law firm would act for me as by dint of my age I was plainly suspect. Ron Brierley encountered exactly the same pariah problems here, and the same welcoming responses when we both first ventured into Australia in the late 1960s. I certainly understood why he took out Australian citizenship and he was bewildered that I never followed suit.

I didn’t as I was embroiled in our politics throughout the 1970s and 80s, plus spent on average, 12 weeks annually trout-fishing all over the country, but mainly in the Tongariro, and finally, couldn’t forfeit my 50 acres garden, now half a century this year since I built my home. But in lieu I’ve always kept a Sydney home since 1972 although these days, rarely visit.

That said, we did pop over a few weeks back as Nick Farr-Jones’s personal guests at his annual huge sportsmen’s dinner. He sat me with John Howard and Dawn Fraser. She’s in great shape, is 85 and would pass as 60. This kindness is so typical of my life-long experience across the Tasman.

Reverting to when I first went across and put my hand up for an empty office building at the age of 27, despite having bugger all cash as it was nigh impossible to take money out of New Zealand back then, the C.E.O of Australia’s then largest real estate agency took me personally in hand. I sat in his office while he phoned the ABC and leased it before my eyes. That left the ground floor, I reminded him. So another phone call and just like that he leased it to the TAB. They’re still there today, nearly 60 years later. Then he took me to lunch and persuaded me to let him sell it at double it’s price before I’d even paid a deposit, academic as I didn’t have enough anyway.

Contrast that with Auckland’s then largest real estate company who refused to see me a I was plainly suspect. They’re now tenants in one of my buildings and a few years back I happily accepted their request as guest-speaker for their annual conference so I could tell them about that rejection and also, remind them of that age-old salesman’s adage, namely you never know where your sales lie.

I could write a book on the generosity I’ve constantly received across the Tasman. I mention all of this because I’ve never encountered anything from Aussies towards Kiwis generally, other than warmth and kindness.

Sadly the reverse applies here with endless gloating when Australia loses in sport, a rare event to be sure. It’s nothing less than envy and it’s long time that it stopped.

 

One Comment

Fair enough, Bob. But then maybe the Aussies are warm and kind to you because they know you have bucket loads of cash (no crime, that), and they want some of it (no crime, either). 😂

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