Bernie set to react as MP slams Aussie GP

Once again the Australian GP has come under fire from a local politician, and we can surely expect a swift reaction from Bernie Ecclestone.

Bernie was quick to respond after recent criticism from the mayor of Melbourne. The race has now been attacked by MP Michael Danby, whose Melbourne Ports constituency includes Albert Park.

Reuters reports that Danby told parliament: “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.

“Rising costs, dwindling crowds, fed-up local residents, an ambivalent Melbourne mayor… to me, everything points to Melbourne saying ‘thanks for the memories’ but gracefully declining to renew the Grand Prix contract.”

Coming so soon after the mayor’s attack, Danby’s comments are bound to raise the ire of Ecclestone – who is no doubt already investigating alternative venues, if indeed he believes Australia it still worth pursuing.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Bernie set to react as MP slams Aussie GP

  1. Jason C

    While they’re probably right to complain, I think Melbourne’s removal from the calendar would be a big loss, and would have the infortunate consequence of being replaced by another new Tilke circuit. And those seem to concentrate more on the grandstands than the actual track itself.

  2. kaoru

    Sophisticated highly-profitable Formula 1 business model Mr.E established seems on the verge of collapse like middle east dictator’s regimes.

  3. Adam

    Posting this comment from Melbourne – moved here after spending most of my adult life in the UK, much of it involved in the motorsport industry.

    Sadly for Melbourne, the writing is very much on the wall I think. Much of Australian politics is pretty parochial (refer back to Mark Webber’s comments at the time of the last Australian Grand Prix). This is a good example. Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, has often crossed swords with the new Melbourne Premier, Ted Balieu, although both are Liberals. His comments of a few weeks ago were as much a dig at him as anything else. The comments today by Michael Danby are similar in nature I think. So designed to appeal to the local electorate. The ramifications will be somewhat wider. The Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park has attracted criticism from day one. What has really killed it off in terms of revenue is the 5pm local time start for the race of the last couple of years to accommodate European TV schedules (when I lived in Oxfordshire I used to look forward to the 4am start to the first race of the year!). The second factor is that Albert Park is one of Melbourne’s wealthiest suburbs – its residents and voters carry a lot of influence. And then there is the short term view all to prevalent in Australia – I love the country, Melbourne in particular, but am gobsmacked by the soundbite nature of the local political scene and the increasing ‘nanny-stateism’. The reality is that the GP is a superb international marketing tool, but over the longer term.

    The political irony is that there has been a Labour Govt in Victoria for 10 or 11 years, until a few months ago, who defended the Grand Prix to the hilt. The Liberals – who ‘poached’ the GP from Adelaide all those years ago – won power late last year for the first time since then. And they will be the ones to kill it off. Expect to see the last Australian GP in 2015. It will be missed by all in F1 I am sure, and by many in Melbourne, despite the press reports you might read. And to any other Australian politicians reading this – very bad week to get Mr E’s back up!!

    • Peter Coffman

      Interesting post. But is the resistance to the race really just about “nannyism” and “parochialism”? The last couple of years in particular have seen taxpayers in every virtually developed country paying dearly for what appears to be the greed of a small, immensely wealthy elite. There is enormous anger about it, and seeing a troupe of rich folk arriving in private jets to compete in an immensely profitable – and taxpayer subsidized – game feeds this anger. In the absence of the kind of hard data Mike refers to below, it’s quite hard to make the argument for government subsidy of GP racing. And yet to my knowledge, no one has ever made a systematic attempt to crunch the numbers and produce compelling data. It leaves the impression that taxpayers are paying a fortune to enable some very rich people to play with their very expensive toys.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’ve loved F1 for over 40 years. But I find it hard not to sympathize with those who feel their tax dollars should be going to hospitals, or schools, or cultural institutions – and not to make Mr. E a billionaire one more time.

      • Adam

        Good point. Melbourne, like most large cities, could do with more funding of education and hospitals. However, Melburnians love their big sporting events, most of which receive substantial Govt funding – The Australian Tennis Open, The Open Golf Tournament, all of whom attract immensely wealthy elite sports stars and the like. The issue really seems to be that the benefits cannot really be quantified, and the local disruption the GP causes. It is turning into a real local political fight. I read this morning that 7 out of 8 of Lord Mayor Robert Doyle’s Melbourne City Council Colleagues want to keep the event as “the boost to Melbourne’s tourism, business and hospitality industries was invaluable. It’s unlike other sporting events and it enhances Melbourne’s name.”

  4. Headline-grabbing nonsense from a windbag member of a minor political party (the Greens). While the majority of Australians are indifferent to the Grand Prix, the vast majority of those who are not are supportive. The problem lies in tracking the economic benefits of having the GP; in the absence of real evidence, anyone can say anything. We’ve heard all this before, and for many years now.

  5. F1 Kitteh

    Looks like Mr E’s promise years ago to never have more than 19GPs is coming true, Bahrain is out, Oz on the way out, who knows if Turkey/China might catch the protesting flu…

    I see cheaper ticket prices in the future and races back in more favored places …

  6. Jake

    I too would be sad to lose Australia from the calendar.

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