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A tale of turds, the Torrens and tourism


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Unhappy with his water-ski-the-Torrens idea being ridiculed on a university radio satire show, shadow tourism minister David Ridgway’s office called the station asking for time in the studio with the satirists to defend himself.

A few weeks ago the boys on Radio Adelaide’s new political satire show House of Review decided to skewer the Opposition’s plan to bring the 2017 World Water Ski Championships to the Torrens – questioning whether a briny mud-puddle was big enough, deep enough or clean enough for world-class water sports.

Not fair, said Ridgway, whose office called management at the University of Adelaide-operated station to complain that his side of the story wasn’t being presented – much to the shock of the hosts, InDaily understands, who were labouring under the impression that nobody of any import was actually listening to the show.

Okay Mr Ridgway, said the bold young presenters – come in and let’s chat about it.

In last week’s interview – you can listen here – Ridgway mounted a very reasonable defence of his idea, which in fact wasn’t his at all, and was generally an excellent sport about the whole satire thing.

He admitted even he had doubts when the idea was first raised.

“I’ll have to be honest, I didn’t think the Torrens would be somewhere you could actually ski,” Ridgway tells hosts Angus Randall, Rupert Hogan-Turner and Chris Komorek in the interview.

“It’s small, it’s not a river, it’s fairly polluted at times with blue-green algae, dog turds and things wash off the roads when it rains.”

But the Torrens course – with skiers launching east of the Morphett St Bridge, zooming under the bridge and completing the competition course between the bridge and the weir – has the tick of approval from national and international bodies.

“They’ve measured it. It’s about 16 foot deep down near the weir, it’s long enough, wide enough.

“The international president came early last year … and couldn’t believe that we had a city with this sort of water right in the centre.”

The real problem, Radio Adelaide’s sharp satirists pointed out to Ridgway, would surely be the water quality – the river, after all, is picketed with no-swimming signs.

Nope, the rains in winter would flush all the “dog turds” out, said Ridgway.

“These water-skiing champions, they’re not like me, they don’t fall off very often, they actually stay on top of the water. It won’t be suitable for swimming, but I think that’s something we should look at as a state somewhere in the future as a city swimming pool or a swimming beach or something as part of the whole riverbank development.

Would he personally swim the Torrens, Chairman Mao style?

“If it was clean enough, yeah. I’m not a water-skier, your listeners can’t see me – probably a bit heavy for water-skiing. I was a farmer, I used to swim in dams as a kid, I’d swim in anything. But there is a public health concern, the Government and the Council has to make sure people aren’t in there making themselves sick. But the water-skiing experts say it’ll be fine at that time of year.

“The proponents said one of the benefits was the hospital was close by. I don’t know whether there are too many injuries in this sport – I mean there are for rank amateurs for myself.”

Disclaimer: The author is a consultant producer on House of Review, but did not take part in the interview.

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