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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2876


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (10:20): Last weekend my electorate once again experienced the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. When I was first elected I gave this event a fair go; I attended. It was like attending a dentists convention—the noise was similar, and it was just as unpleasant. I have made my opposition to the Grand Prix, because of its economic costs, increasingly clear to this parliament and to both Liberal and Labor state governments. For ethical, economic and political reasons, the Victorian government should not re-sign a contract to have the Grand Prix in Albert Park when it comes up in 2020.

My office has received surprisingly strong feedback about this through the years. I once surveyed 60,000 voters and 6,000 wrote back to me indicating their opposition. We did have nearly 70 supporters. Many local institutions—shopping centres in Albert Park, South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, South Yarra—are deserted as locals leave to avoid the noise, the bogans and the traffic chaos.

The Grand Prix is no longer a plus for Victoria, if it ever was. Its old-fashioned sexism, displaying grid girls to be gawked at, and the emphasis of the Formula 1 lifestyle of luxury, champagne and fast cars is as dated as an old cigarette ad about the Peter Stuyvesant jet set. But the main reason that Victorians looking at the Grand Prix on a rational basis should oppose it as I do is the US$37 million cost to the Grand Prix Corporation, to Mr Ecclestone. The on-costs, which amount to $70 million, simply cannot be measured rationally against any benefit that Victoria gets. It is an extravagant waste of taxpayers' money. Residents in our electorate are overwhelmingly sick of the noise and pollution. For two months the 100,000 people in my electorate face this imposition for one weekend of pleasure for a private event. Ecclestone, in my view, does not pass the character test for someone who the state of Victoria should be dealing with. Almost unreported by a sycophantic media, Ecclestone's role in a bribery case in Germany was front-page news there and in the UK. He paid a fine of 60 million euros to avoid being taken to jail like his confederate, the German banker Gribkowsky.

Last year, before the election, the Napthine government locked Victoria into another five-year contract that is due to end in 2020. Unfortunately, there was no possibility of doing anything about this year's race, but I have written to the Premier suggesting that, when the race comes up in 2020, it be rationally evaluated. I do not mind if, on the basis of rational consideration, it is considered, but on that basis I believe the contract should not be renewed.