PICKED: Brooke Hanson has been selected as a baton bearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton relay.
PICKED: Brooke Hanson has been selected as a baton bearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton relay. Contributed

Tweed snubbed: Baton passes closest neighbour by

RATHER than pass the baton, 2018 Commonwealth Games officials have passed the Northern Rivers by in a exclusion snub for the Queen's Baton Run.

While the Queen's Baton touches down in Australia on December 24 to begin its 40,000km journey around the country before arriving on the Gold Coast for the Games opening ceremony, the Northern Rivers won't be included.

Commencing in Canberra and travelling through every state and territory over 100 days, the closest the baton will come to the Northern Rivers is Coffs Harbour in the south, and across the border to the north.

The Northern Rivers is set to contribute 25 baton bearers to the journey, but despite a rich sporting history and connection to the Games by virtue of being its closest neighbour, GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie said the relay "can't go everywhere".

 

The 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay Map shows the Northern Rivers of NSW being bypassed.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay Map shows the Northern Rivers of NSW being bypassed. Contributed

Mr Beattie, who has received letters from disappointed mayors from other excluded locations, said the country was "just too big".

"The problem we have is really simple. This country is huge, we have 100 days, if we went to every community... in Australia, this baton relay would go for the next five years," Mr Beattie told ABC Gold Coast.

"We got each state, including NSW, and set up a local group to deal with baton bearers and applications. There were no politicians, we got community leaders appointed by an independent panel. They have to make choices about where it goes and we try and do that via an independent process."

Disappointed with the decision, Tweed Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes joined a growing chorus of dejected Northern Rivers' leaders including Ballina Mayor David Wright in voicing their dismay.

'It is deeply disappointing that the Tweed Shire was snubbed for the baton relay. Tweed has a great reputation not only as a tourism hotspot, but also a sporting destination," Cr Byrnes said.

"Many residents have expressed disappointment we will not see the baton pass over the border to Queensland where the games are to be played."

Cr Byrnes said he would explore the possibility of submitting a motion to GOLDOC to reconsider their decision.

"I'll work with councillors and staff and request that the body have the relay pass through our great Shire," he said.

"After all, we are only next door."

Despite knocking on the door of the Gold Coast, a GOLDOC spokesperson said geographical challenges, operational constraints on timing and predetermined dates were all taken into consideration.

"The relay has been designed to be as inclusive as possible while also spending quality time in communities," the spokesperson said.

The QBR is scheduled to arrive on the Gold Coast on April 4, 2018.



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