Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie
With several sources raising rhetorical eyebrows at the fact that Steve Irwin remains in the running for Australian of the Year, and with the support of Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie to boot, it seems a good time to check out the Australian of the Year contenders. It's a solid field which will present Steve with some stiff competition despite his recent pioneering efforts to develop a more family friendly workplace at his crocodile farm.
The ACT's Finalist is Professor Judith Whitworth AC, Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research and the Howard Florey Professor of Medical Research at the Australian National University. It sounds like the sort of job where you could probably get away with taking the kids into work occasionally without scoring a lot of adverse publicity.
New South Wales has put up Steve Waugh, an ex-cricketer. I've never seen Waugh take up strike with a baby tucked under his arm but I don't watch a lot of cricket. I doubt too many top level cricket batsmen would be too keen to take their kids out onto the field to get acclimatised to bouncers and wrong 'uns anyway; the risk of junior dislodging the bails while you're hitting a cover drive to the boundary is probably a big disincentive, regardless of the potential benefits to the child.
The Northern Territory is represented by Patricia Miller who:
... has worked throughout her life to challenge racial discrimination and address the fundamental causes of the problems that beset many aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. She has been involved with the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service since 1978, commencing as a filing clerk, and rising to her current position of Director.
Once again, Steve is up against it here; no-one is going to take too much exception to children being taken into a law office occasionally to get used to dealing with lawyers and vexatious litigants. It's a reasonably safe way of building them up for the salt-water crocs.
South Australia has put up children's writer Mem Fox, author of Possum Magic, Time for Bed and Hattie and the Fox. At worst, she's put a lot of kiddies at risk of getting a nasty paper cut.
Tasmania has nominated Michael Kent who "has contributed significantly to Tasmanian business, economy, community, charity and sport". Michael is also eminently child-safety neutral.
Victoria's Bernadette McMenamin:
... founded and championed Child Wise Limited, a not for profit company which works towards the attainment of a world free from child exploitation, child sex abuse and child sex tourism. Bernadette is also the co-author of Choose with Care, a resource which promotes world best practise techniques to ensure that organisations are as child safe as possible.
West Australia's Dr Fiona Wood made headlines in October 2002 when
... she and her team treated badly burned Bali victims at the Royal Perth Hospital ...
So Steve is up against a pretty tough field, especially with Steve Waugh and Fiona Wood as competitors. I wouldn't be surprised if he misses out but he's still in the running to replace one of our 15 Living National Treasures (Deceased).