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Do you ever get the feeling that you’re being regulated out of motorsport? Have you begun to think that the amount of paperwork and compliance with regulations is all getting far too hard, and you really can’t be bothered putting up with all the crap? Many of us do – me included – and we often wonder what the point of all the blarney is.

 Remember when you used to be able to walk along the beach with a camera over your shoulder, eating fresh fish and chips out of newspaper? Or you wanted to go for a quiet ride on your bike, without a helmet, stopping occasionally for a puff on an invigorating cigarette?

Or you wanted to apply for a bank loan without having to present a sack full of identification to tally up your 100 points? Perhaps you wanted to spend a day at the tennis without having to empty out your back pack so they could search for racist, antagonistic Aussie flags. Or you wanted to run a simple, basic car rally where everyone rolled up on the day in cars without roll cages, shy on helmets and without fearing that the sky should fall in if one little box on the OH & S compliance form wasn’t ticked?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been around so long in an Australia that was once so laid back that we rarely had a thing in the world to worry about. The worst that could happen was that the airlines or the beer carters went on strike at Christmas, the occasional flood or fire would stop us going to the footy or the races, and we had no butter to put on our toast because our war-time ration coupons had run out.

Bloody hell – we really had a lot to worry about then! Why, we even slept on the front lawn of our suburban homes at night without fear of getting glassed, having a hoon lose control and do doughnuts over our sleeping bags, or finding our house trashed when we went inside for breakfast. And yes, our Aussie flag was still high and dry on top of the mast in our backyard – untouched.

More and more we’re becoming a society which I really don’t like. The Aussie tradition of a fair go and giving a mate a hand is becoming as rare as the England cricket team winning a test match. And all this as we fail to notice the red tape that’s going on around us now. Silently, insidiously new rules and regulations are slipping under our doors that confirm what we all knew not so long ago – we’re living in Noddy Land.

New rules for this, restrictions on that, a licence for this, a permit (and a fee!) for that, and so it goes on. And that’s just for starters. Is motorsport (or rallying) exempt from all this? Not on your Nellie!

I’ve been looking at rallying from a Clerk of Course perspective and a competitors perspective lately and I have to say I’ve come away with a pretty jaundiced outlook on the sport.

Did you realize that if you want to set a simple club motorkhana or a Touring Assembly these days you need not only to have a steward in attendance to monitor the conduct of the event, you also need a Compliance Checker to oversee everything that the C of C does in preparation for the event and on the day as well? It’s sort of like having an OH & S snoop looking over your shoulder to ensure that the odd banana skin or cow pat isn’t left laying around for young Johnnie to slip on. Why, Johnnie’s Dad might be given to taking the director to court for negligence.

Look, I’m not saying CAMS is doing this (requesting more and more paperwork to frazzle director’s nerves) just to frustrate us all, but surely there must come a time in our personal lives as well as our rallying lives when we collectively say “enough is enough, this paper warfare has to stop.”

As every event director knows there’s several pinus radiata used to produce all the paper forms needed to run an event – application for permit, supp regs, further regs, instructions, course checker’s report, steward’s report, clerk of course report, accident report, sign on sheet, compliance checker’s reports, results, and so on and so on and so on.

Okay, CAMS will (probably rightly) say that much of it is imposed on them by state and federal laws, not to mention common sense, but it doesn’t take a Queen’s Counsel to prove to you what we all know - there’s a risk to competing in rallying. But why does every authority have to make it so damn difficult for people to get into the sport?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the authorities actually encouraged competitors to get involved in rallying or took away some of the overriding fear that directors have about directing events because they’re afraid of being sued by little Johnnie’s father?

Seems to me that, just like smokers and other independent-thinking people who want to be able to make their own decisions, we should be able to be responsible for our own choices. If we want to smoke or drive a rally car without having flame-proof Calvin Kleins, then we should be given the opportunity to make that choice. Ah yes, but what about ‘the common good?’ We can’t let people make their own rules, can we?

My fear is that it’s only going to get worse, to the point where we’re regulated out of rallies for good. Not that that would be surprising – what sane person would want to direct a rally or another motorsport event with the thought of a $188,658 OH & S fine (for that’s what an individual can be fined under the new legislation) being imposed on you if you hadn’t removed that rotten banana skin or scraped up that fresh cow pat.

Frustrated? Who – me?

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