Simon Earle: Labor for Cook

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Talking Heads

Last week, Swellnet ran an interview with surfer/scientist Hanabeth Luke, who's running as an independent candidate for Page in the upcoming Federal election. Today we shift party and region.

Simon Earle began his surfing life as a train billy relying on State Rail to get him to Cronulla, the nearest beach. Before long he'd moved there, and three decades later he's completely ensconsced in Cronulla's surfing scene. With wife and two kids the Earle's are the classic coastal family, however Simon is currently eyeing an escape from his comfort zone: He's put his hand up to run for the Labor Party in the seat of Cook.

Swellnet spoke to Simon halfway through the election campaign.

Swellnet: We're at the end of a little run of swell. Have you surfed this morning?
Simon Earle: No, I haven't surfed this morning. I got up, went down to survey the situation, but I didn't go out. Instead I got my kids off to school; got the day underway.

When there are waves, where do you usually surf?
I usually go up to Greenhills. Either out the front of the tower, or walk up the beach a little bit. I find that everyone else surfs around Elouera, and I try to get away from the crowds and get a few waves to myself, or just with a couple of other surfers.

Cronulla: Marginally better surf than Canberra

What’s your favourite wave in the Shire?
I’ve got a couple of spots I don't mind surfing, but I also don't like to talk about them too much…

Okay, we'll keep it schtum. We all need our secrets.
That's it.

How long have you lived in the Shire for?
I moved to Cronulla thirty years ago. Before that, I lived in Oatley and spent a lot of time getting the train down to Cronulla. So it was logical to move out here.

So a life-long surfer, but you've just moved closer to the waves?
Yeah, that's it.

Much of a club man?
Yeah, I'm in North Cronulla Surf Club. I went there as a junior and did patrols, now I’m back with my son, getting him through Nippers. It's important to give something back to the beach community, and just to know that if anything goes down, he can save himself, or potentially save others.

You look at the way the surf clubs operate. They're under-resourced, and surfers are often the first responders. They're in the water. They're on a board. So those sort of skills are good to have.

My son's in Elouera Boardriders, and he's also in North Cronulla Boardriders. I've never gone into the board rider thing myself. I never thought I surfed well enough. 

And you ride Stuart Paterson’s boards. How long have you done that for?
Yeah, I've ridden Pato's boards for...it'd be difficult to put a year on it, but probably be a good 25 or 30 years.

Hatching a new design with Stuart Paterson

I think shaper loyalty says a lot about character - you and John John Florence.
Ha…I think it's really important. Pato is a local - I believe in supporting local businesses - and really, I've always thought his boards have gone pretty good.

Also, Pato’s good if you want to get a little bit funky with something. He does some pretty cool shapes.

He certainly does. Now, your day job: what do you do for work, Simon?
I run a training company, so I work from home or work in the city. Essentially, what we do is provide a health and safety training card for people in the transport industry. So truck drivers, warehouse workers, and people in that sort of industry.

Sounds like a fine career. Why go into politics?
I've always been interested in politics because it dominates much of our lives. Everything that happens, does so because of decisions that other people make. And I guess, sometimes, I've looked at it, and there were things I wasn't happy with, or with the way the country was going. 

I’d sit there and wonder ‘is there something I can do about it?’ So I thought I might give it a crack.

And when did you choose to get directly involved?
Probably just over three years ago in the last Federal election, I was interested, and I told some people that, but it wasn't really the right time to do it.

So it was in the back of my mind, and then as we came up to this election, I was again getting disheartened with what's happening in politics. There weren't a lot of people putting their hands up at the local branch of the Labor Party, so I said, "I'll do it. I'm keen. There's no point sitting around, whinging about stuff. I'll try and make a difference."

Why Labor?
Labor is a party that is more in line with my core values. Growing up, a lot of us would get our political education from our family, or the people around us. I had a single mum, went to public schools, we relied on things like Medicare, and good, free education. So those are the sort of Labor policies which have been around for a long time, and really strike a chord with me.

And when I was old enough to understand who politicians were, Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister, and he was just someone you looked up to as a kid, as a national figure, and someone who just genuinely seemed a pretty good bloke.

"Act natural"

A lot of things have changed since Hawkey's era, and for better or worse, independents are making a splash in this election. Their involvement rams home the importance of local issues. In that regard, what policies are you proposing?
Yeah, look, the independents…it's going to be interesting, and I think it's pretty positive as long as they’re true independents. It's a democracy, and people aren't necessarily aligned with the major parties, or they’ve become disheartened with what's going on. They're going to make a stand, and that's probably a good thing - having a bit of diversity there.

In terms of local issues: A lot of people are asking me, "What are you standing for, and what are you going to do?" At the moment, I'm a candidate. I'm backing all the policies of the Labor Party, because that's the party that I'm standing for. But locally, what I'm really going to focus on is the issues which the people are saying are important to them. Like in the surfing community, we're really concerned with the erosion of the beaches. That's important.

Also, parking around the beaches. The last couple of years through COVID, people changed the way they exercised, and that's become a real problem around Cronulla. They're getting out there for a surf, or walking the dog, or whatever it is, and parking's an issue. So those are a couple of little ones.

I think in the bigger picture, what people around the electorate, the same as people all around the country, are talking about is the idea of accountability in politics, and more truth and honesty. An Independent Commission Against Corruption is really important, to try and bring back some of the integrity into politics.

That could also explain why you've got independents running, because they're not happy with the way the major parties have been operating, particularly over the last ten years.

Also, I think my politics will be informed by involvement with the White Ribbon movement. I've been involved with White Ribbon for fourteen years. I come from a family that was a single mum - parents split up when I was very young - so the way I grew up understanding gender roles was probably not the norm. Mum was also the dad, kind of thing, and the provider, and I saw that.

So women were always, to me, strong, equal, and the providers. I got angry at different times with what I saw in relation to equality. But not just equality, also the levels of violence. I thought, ‘I can get angry about it or I can do something’.

I got introduced to White Ribbon, which gave me a vehicle to help. At that time I was the CEO of one of the first workplaces in the country to voluntarily bring in paid domestic violence leave. I used to go all around Sydney, talking to schools and workplaces about these issues of equality. 

There's a lot of people who say, "We've all got mothers, sisters, or daughters," but it goes beyond that. 50% of your community are women, they're equal, and they've got to be treated as equal.

It does feel like we're on the cusp of change. Are you prepared to be surprised?
Mate, I'm prepared to be surprised. When I went into it, I knew it was a long shot, and I didn't necessarily go into it promising people that I was going to win. Yet the more I talk to people, the more I think we are on the cusp of change. We're looking at what's happening in the media, and with the cost of living going up - and there's news out today that shows it’s going to really increase - people are looking for something different.

Am I prepared for it..? I'd have to buy a couple of suits if I go to Canberra. That's going to be the tough one.

Yeah, I'm prepared. I've got plenty to learn, but I learn things quickly. And much of what I've learnt so far is not to tell people what they need, or what to think, but to listen to them.

To stand up and speak for others, it takes a certain kind of arrogance, but it has to be balanced with the ability to stop talking and start listening.
Absolutely, mate. You've got to listen to people. From my background, I like to speak, and when it's time to speak, I'll do it, but you've really got to listen.

I spent a lot of years as a school teacher, and a big part of that job is obviously speaking, because you're imparting knowledge, but you've also really got to listen. You're one person in a room of thirty people, thirty kids, and to engage with them means listening to them.

It seems to me that the successful politicians all have nicknames derived from their own names. It seems to me the only one that'll work for you, is ‘Surly’. It doesn't really sum you up though, does it?
Ha…no it doesn't. My voice might sound surly from time to time, or I sometimes get accused of not smiling enough, but I'm a pretty happy sort of a person. Happy with things, generally.

Look, my mates call me Pearle, with an E on the end of it. That's the rhyming name. I don't know how that's going to go with the electorate, but they can call me what they want.

(Swellnet has reached out to Simon's LNP opponent but is yet to hear back)

Comments

panaitan's picture
panaitan's picture
panaitan Friday, 6 May 2022 at 12:11pm

Good luck Simon, but disappointed you have made no mention of climate and emissions reductions as the key issue. That is what is helping the Independents get such big polling numbers against the LNP. Convince the masses from the Shire that ScoMo means no future for their kids!

nextswell's picture
nextswell's picture
nextswell Friday, 6 May 2022 at 12:43pm

Haha mentions what the party tells him too. Don’t know him, sure he’s a great bloke. They all have the right intentions until they are swallowed up by the bullshit of political bureaucracy. Hope I’m wrong. Good luck.

Smorto's picture
Smorto's picture
Smorto Friday, 6 May 2022 at 1:56pm

Running for federal parliament in the prime minister's seat and one of your key issues is local beach parking? Has anyone told him that's a local council issue?

I'm sure he's a great bloke but clearly Labor don't give themselves much of a chance in this electorate.

wallpaper's picture
wallpaper's picture
wallpaper Friday, 6 May 2022 at 2:22pm

oh yeah right so I see you missed all the carpark carry-on last time round

Smorto's picture
Smorto's picture
Smorto Friday, 6 May 2022 at 2:59pm

Clearly I did! What was it? Was it really a federal election thing?

wallpaper's picture
wallpaper's picture
wallpaper Friday, 6 May 2022 at 4:09pm

car park rorts scandal doesn't ring a bell?

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Friday, 6 May 2022 at 3:03pm

Or.. Could be seen as knowing your audience.

Smorto's picture
Smorto's picture
Smorto Friday, 6 May 2022 at 3:10pm

@dawnperiscope - You mean an audience who doesn't understand the role of federal parliament?

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Friday, 6 May 2022 at 8:14pm

He’s talking to a surfing website and had a crack at communicating that he understands local issues and connecting on that level. He said himself it’s a small one. Hardly a key issue.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Friday, 6 May 2022 at 4:46pm

Far out - yeah fix the parking so we can have more crowds. Great.

stuckinthe80s's picture
stuckinthe80s's picture
stuckinthe80s Friday, 6 May 2022 at 4:48pm

I love how Labor bleat on about accountability yet Andrews in Victoria is sheltered by secret IBAC hearings. I guess being rotten is okay when it's them.

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Friday, 6 May 2022 at 4:59pm

and build a breakwall at the wall for wedges and buildiing sand, cronullas beachbreaks are usually shapeless.

greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams Friday, 6 May 2022 at 5:21pm

Simon, Climate Change is the big issue which is being driven by over population. Our planet had less than 1.7 billion people before the industrial revolution which has led to the explosion in population on our planet (almost 9 Billion). Simon, look at what Peter Garrett turned into as a Federal Labour politican ( a political party patsy). Both parties have failed to address the real issues we all face & unfortunately this is the real issue in this election!

sacash's picture
sacash's picture
sacash Friday, 6 May 2022 at 8:21pm

Fabian socialist

lomah's picture
lomah's picture
lomah Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 8:33am

Great to see people like Simon and Hanabeth getting involved. Politics needs more people like them. Bravo to both of them.

Michael Adam's picture
Michael Adam's picture
Michael Adam Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 3:44pm

Will we be hearing from a Liberal candidate next?
I’ll hold my breath….

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 3:57pm

We're still trying to find a LNP candidate that surfs, or has a connection to the ocean. Otherwise, there's very little relevance for Swellnet readers.

If you have any suggestions, please let us know. We're certainly happy to interview anyone from any side of the political spectrum.

Of course, that's not to say that they'll accept the interview (the Liberal candidate for Cook has yet to reply to our requests). As it is, Simon Earle's interview took quite a while to be approved.

Slightly OT, but here's some light reading from six years ago:
https://www.swellnet.com/news/surfpolitik/2016/01/11/fergal-smith-and-sh...

Vunerable's picture
Vunerable's picture
Vunerable Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 11:04am

Be great to see an update to your articles. Some swellnet users prefer surfing to politics thanks.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 4:07pm

tony abbott.......?

marcus's picture
marcus's picture
marcus Tuesday, 10 May 2022 at 9:37am

he doesn't surf. well.. i guess 70% of beach break shortboarders are as good as he is

Bungan33's picture
Bungan33's picture
Bungan33 Tuesday, 10 May 2022 at 2:47pm

How do I insert emojis!!!!! (Crying laughing...)

fishnsurf's picture
fishnsurf's picture
fishnsurf Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 7:25pm

im sure the wsl will be happy to endorse their preferance

Ronson's picture
Ronson's picture
Ronson Sunday, 8 May 2022 at 8:31pm

Good on him, having a go.

gnomen's picture
gnomen's picture
gnomen Tuesday, 10 May 2022 at 10:57am

What about Peter Wish Wilson the Greens member in Tas, he surfs. I'm sure he'd be willing to state his case?

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson Thursday, 12 May 2022 at 8:47am

I have some important questions - Scott Morrison holds the first members pass for the Cronulla Sharks, what number member pass does this guy hold? Is this guy a proper Sharkies fan like ScoMo? Is this guy good at playing Ukulele? ScoMo is great at playing April Sun by Dragon. Dragon are a great Aussie (Kiwi) band, does this guy like Dragon like ScoMo? What songs can this guy play on the Ukulele?

Michael Adam's picture
Michael Adam's picture
Michael Adam Thursday, 12 May 2022 at 10:00am

How to vote the majors last:
majorslast.com

ando1@2's picture
ando1@2's picture
[email protected] Friday, 13 May 2022 at 9:40am

If your fair dinkem about the environment than help put a stop to the distruction of the Kurnell peninsula by Breen Sands . Also the dredging of sand from the mouth of the port hacking river and pumped back onto the cronulla beaches .