As Opposition spokesperson for Sport, Recreation & Racing, I would like to use my time today to reflect on the future of Victoria Park.
I have to say I’m left scratching my head when I think about the Rann Government’s current stance on Victoria Park – because I know how many Government Members previously supported its redevelopment.
The Premier supported the redevelopment.
The Treasurer worked hard to make the redevelopment happen (albeit in a dogmatic way) and we know how much he would like it to still go ahead if he was being completely honest with us all.
His good mate, the Member for West Torrens supported it. Last year Mr Koutsantonis lashed out at “the elites” (as he called them) who opposed the Victoria Park Redevelopment and called on his colleague the Member for Adelaide to get behind the redevelopment.
I’m even advised the Member for Newland has joined an online networking group that supports a redeveloped Victoria Park and good on him for doing so.
The Attorney General’s comments on 5AA radio on December 18 also clearly expressed his view,
“I’m working back in my office and I thought I’d give you a call about a very nice thing I was able to do on Friday, along with 10,000 other South Australians and that was to go to the races at Victoria Park for the twilight meeting … people had a really good time, even though of course the Victoria Park racecourse is dilapidated, but marquees were erected all over the place and people were back to racing and I think it would be very sad if racing left the central business district, it’s been there for 100 years…”
I echo the Attorney General’s comments. It would be very sad indeed if the SAJC walks away from racing at Victoria Park just because the Rann Labor Government abandoned them…
For Mr Rann and his Government to blame the Adelaide City Council for the redevelopment’s failure is unacceptable.
Luckily the Government still has the opportunity to show true leadership and vision by adopting legislation to take the original proposal forward.
Now, because of recent events in Melbourne another very real threat to Victoria Park’s future as a central entertainment hub has arisen.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has stated that Formula 1 will likely quit the Albert Park racing circuit after 2010.
Ecclestone has reportedly said the contract has little chance of being renewed beyond 2010 because of spiraling costs for Formula 1 and a lack of support from Victorian Premier John Brumby.
Some of us mightn’t feel much pity for Victoria given there’s still some bitterness over Adelaide losing the Grand Prix.
However, we need to understand that should Formula 1 leave Melbourne, the city will push hard for other racing events to take place on the Albert Park street circuit.
The smart money would have to be on Victoria challenging SA for the mantle of holding Australia’s largest domestic motor sport event, an event we currently hold in the Clipsal 500.
We must remember that Albert Park is ‘big race ready’ and as a result will be ready to pounce.
The Grand Prix Corporation’s annual report revealed that it cost Victorian taxpayers $34.6 million to host the 2007 event. Given the Victorian Government has the infrastructure in place at Albert Park and this sort of budget to spend on a motor race, we simply have to expect a serious challenge to our race post 2010.
The Clipsal 500 is currently breaking all sorts of records.
•Last year’s attendance grew 2.4% on the 2006 figure
•The economic benefit to South Australia in 2007 was around $30m, up $3m from 2006
•The 2007 event attracted 15,000 interstate and international visitors
We can expect all of these impressive numbers to be challenged after 2010 should Victoria lose Formula 1 and focus on the other premier racing event, V8 super car racing.
Because of this very real threat to the status of our Clipsal 500, now is not a time for settling for second best. Now is not the time for settling for a demountable stand and shade cloth.
As respected columnist Rex Jory pointed out in The Advertiser yesterday, there is a mood for change in South Australia right now. South Australians are calling for an “era of flair, growth and excitement.” Jory wrote that “people are sick of being denied facilities and infrastructure which are rising like Jack’s beanstalk in Perth and the eastern seaboard.”
We need to make the most of this mood for change and press ahead with exciting, progressive development that benefits South Australians and future generations of South Australians.
The Victoria Park redevelopment must go ahead.