Hot on the heels of Germany's success with Paul the Octopus and his much vaunted ability to accurately predict the results of German soccer matches, the Australian Government has set up a task force to find an Australian equivalent.
THE AUSTRALIAN Institute of Sport (AIS) has been allocated $7.6M in a new project to find an Australian marine animal that could match the stunning 80 per cent success rate attributed to the German cephalopod.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in announcing the project last week during an official function at the AIS headquarters in Canberra, said national pride dictated that Australia must be able to match the benchmark set by the European sporting power.
"We will leave no shell unturned to discover an Australian aquatic animal prophet, even if that entails us importing one from another country," vowed Prime Minister Gillard.
The AIS has called the new project Find an Underwater Creature that can Accurately Predict Australian Sporting Success and has already begun combing the beaches, aquariums and theme parks of Australia searching for an "Aussie Paul".
And according to the official placed in charge of the project, veteran administrator and ex-billiards champion, Paul Table, the project has already identified at least one very promising candidate.
"We have been trying hard to get to areas that the AIS normally doesn't reach, or isn't allowed to access," said Mr Table.
"We have put the call out beyond our usual range of contacts, to fisherman, boating enthusiasts, marine biologists and anyone that may have encountered a sea creature with a freakish ability to foretell the final result of sporting fixtures involving Australian teams," he said.
"We have offered a $1M reward to find a suitable animal and, in fact, we have already had one very promising claimant come forward. Without wanting to get carried away, we think we may be on to something quite extraordinary with Gordon the dugong."
The dugong was discovered by Mackay fish and chip shop owner, Ben Tasselel, at the local marina in 2008 as he was reading the sports pages of the local Mackay Mercury newspaper before the Rugby League World Cup final.
"I planned to have a bet on the game," said Mr Tasselel, "and was searching for inspiration."
"I saw the dugong lying docilely in the shallows and decided to see whether it could help me out," he said.
"The dugong was right then and has been right just about every time since. He's a marvel!"
The dugong selected New Zealand in that game and Tasselel says he has been using him to predict important sporting encounters involving Australia since that time, achieving an over 90 per cent success rate.
"He picked England in the Ashes, backed against Australia in every Tri-Nations rugby match last year, took England in the World Twenty20 final this year and again to win the most recent rugby test," said Mr Tasselel.
It also backed Germany when we played them in the World Cup," he said.
"He's a totally awesome tipper."
When asked what method he used, Mr Tasselel said he simply threw some hot chips into the water and then placed some fish on the beach. The choice between fish or chips would determine the team Mr Tasselel would bet on.
"If the dugong comes out of the water and picks the fish up, then I mark down the game for Australia. If he eats the chips in the water, then it's one for the opposition," said Mr Tasselel.
"So far, he hasn't picked Australia, which is not really that surprising given the dugong is a fully marine herbivore, nevertheless I'm confident it will make the extra effort when Australia starts winning major sporting events again," he said.
Australian officials also said that many other animals were being analysed at the moment, including a sea slug called Mark, a mud crab known as Geoff and a baby tadpole named Robert.
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