'That's enough now': Fitzsimons
Peter Fitzsimons says it's time for the government to remove a loophole exposing children to sports betting while watching sport on television, with 2UE's Paul Murray.PT1M45S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2h8bk 620 349 April 4, 2013
If it please the court!
Yes, Your Honour, over here.
Some of us think there must be three of him.
If it please the court, despite being sued for defamation by Tom Waterhouse, I should like to say a few delicate and hopefully well-chosen words in response to the plaintiff's mother's extraordinary outburst at the weekend.
Defended her son: Gai Waterhouse. Photo: Jenny Evans
I table an article carried in the News Limited press, on Sunday, headlined ''LEAVE MY BOY ALONE!'' where the famous horse-racing trainer did what mothers do - at least when their children are still in primary school and can't speak for themselves - which is to robustly and publicly defend her child against the flood of criticism he has endured lately.
A quick burst if you would, Ms Waterhouse, starting with your comments on politicians.
''They should stop criticising,'' she thunders, ''[as that's] all they can ever do, the Greenies and all the rest of them. Bugger the criticism. They want to kill every industry in Australia and then they wonder why they are going belly up.''
Well known: Tom Waterhouse signs autographs for kids. Photo: Twitter
Ummm, no. For a start it's not just the Greenies who have pleaded for sanity on the issue, as alarm has been sounded from across the political spectrum, including shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, who, I think, you can be sure is interested in seeing Australian industries prosper.
Secondly, those politicians are doing no more than expressing the views of millions of their constituents: that the exposure of gambling advertising across sports has gone from endemic to epidemic, and it is not fair to kids to allow the bookies to leverage their otherwise healthy passion for sport into the brain-dead pursuit of gambling.
Thirdly, the issue is not at all about the gambling industry going ''belly up'' - I believe your son received an offer of $500 million for his business a week or two ago? - but the poor bastards going belly up, that that very gambling industry lives off.
But back to you.
''I tell you one thing, he is out there working his butt off. If everyone worked as hard as my son Tom we'd have a much better society in Australia.''
Madam, no one has ever suggested he is not working his butt off. Indeed, he seems so ubiquitous on every sports broadcast going, some of us think there must be three of him! But I ask you for an intellectually honest answer on this: if everyone in Australia really did work as hard as he does, not actually producing anything, but simply expanding and refining a model to separate fools from their money, what sort of society would we have then? Could we even go on?
You must know the answer. And that is the issue. No one wants to shut down the bookies. Plenty of people do want to gamble and the bookies service them. But up until a few years ago, the bookies were ''over there'', surrounded by a pod of punters pissing their money up against the wall. It wasn't really any of our business.
Now, the bookies are ''over here'', surrounding us, infesting us, getting their clutches into people we know, elbowing us in the ribs trying to get us to cough up our own money, and inevitably making kids think that gambling on sport is simply what everyone does. And with the line now SO blurred between advertisers and the sports coverage itself that some kids even think the bookies are the stars - as you will see with the kids in the photo getting young Tom's autograph at the footy - it really is time to act.
I know, I know, you say, ''They have got the freedom of choice of turning their television off, [if they don't like it,]'' but, first up, the kids don't have that freedom, as they mostly watch what their parents watch. And we parents don't particularly want to switch the television off. We simply want to be able to watch sport the way we always used to be able to, without being constantly bombarded with lures to lose our money.
But let's go to your defence of Tom taking his spot on the commentary panel.
''He is not a pseudo commentator,'' you say. ''First of all, he does a lot of research into it. Secondly, he has been passionate about sport since the year dot …''
Please. So Ray Warren is not throwing to Tom because of the mooted $15 million he has thrown into Channel Nine's coffers, but actually because he is genuinely interested in young Tom's insights into the game? PLEASE.
Still, perhaps this is all too harsh, and you're only speaking out because as a loving parent you simply want to protect your child?
Funnily enough, that's exactly how we feel. Millions of us. And that's why there is an outcry.
On the off chance I have converted you, here is the link to the petition started by a reader.
Twitter - @Peter_Fitz