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Thursday, 18 March 2010
Page: 3026

Mr DANBY (9:39 AM) —Albert Park, in my electorate, is one of the highest density residential areas in Melbourne. A few people in the area no doubt enjoy the spectacle of the Grand Prix; thousands of others will have their weekends ruined by the 180-decibel drone coming from what for many years had been a tranquil area. For more than a decade my constituents, particularly those in Albert Park, South Melbourne and West St Kilda, and commuters from surrounding suburbs have been restricted and denied access to the recreational facilities in the middle of my electorate by the Grand Prix.

Several weeks ago Linfox proposed construction of a purpose-built racetrack at Avalon Airport. I think this proposal deserves more consideration. Numbers attending the Grand Prix have drastically declined over the last number of years. More than 400,000 people attended the first one; it is down to 105,000 now. As Alan Howe, the former editor-in-chief of the Herald Sun pointed out, Grand Prix bosses have been given hundreds of thousands of dollars in performance bonuses in recent years despite the fact that the race is selling fewer tickets and is causing the state of Victoria unforeseen losses climbing to over $250 million. This includes licence fees paid every year to Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, that perhaps top $50 million. In the first year the Grand Prix lost $2.7 million. It will lose 20 times that amount this year. As Alan Howe said on 28 February:

It’s not just locals who have turned off; the international television audience has plummeted by more than 83 per cent since 2000, and these are viewers unaffected by Melbourne’s fickle weather … That’s why the Australian Grand Prix organisers struggled to get a naming rights sponsor until last week … Qantas has signed up but, tellingly, only for a single year.

It is time the Grand Prix found a new home, and that home is Avalon. I believe the vast majority of my constituents will agree with that. I wish the Grand Prix no ill, but it is better off out of the inner city, away from the recreational areas and disrupting public transport in Melbourne for weeks and weeks. I am sure the state government will bring to mind the rational economic reasons for moving it when it decides, eventually, not to renew the contract of this organisation the Ecclestone Grand Prix.