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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 621

Mr DANBY (1:50 PM) —Over the summer, it was good to see that the Lord Mayor of Melbourne finally caught up with the attitudes of most locals in questioning the ongoing viability of the Grand Prix in Melbourne. I recently did a survey of 600 locals, and there was 10 to one majority support for leaving the race. As locals we suffer from access routes being blocked and we are subjected to noise and fumes. In particular, the low flyovers by FA18s of inner urban Melbourne have caused a great deal of consternation ever since they started.

The Grand Prix may have been a good deal in 1996, when it cost the government only $1.7 million; but, with falling crowd numbers and taxpayers footing a $50 million-a-year bill, the government should cut its losses and walk away. I have been in contact with the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, about the Grand Prix, and he advised me that this year the federal government would not be organising a low-altitude FA18 flyover of our area. Rising costs, dwindling crowds, fed-up local residents, an ambivalent Melbourne mayor, no more FA18 flyovers: to me, everything points to Melbourne saying ‘thanks for the memories’ but gracefully declining to renew the Grand Prix contract, especially since it costs the taxpayers of Victoria $50 million a year.