The Australian Grand Prix has come under fire after figures showed the cost to Victorian taxpayers had ballooned 15-fold in the space of 11 years.
This year’s event at Melbourne’s Albert Park cost the Victorian government 49.3million Australian dollars (€35.3m) compared to 3.2million Australian dollars (€2.3m) in 1998/99.
Although attendance figures were up for this year’s race at the end of March by 5,000 to 305,000, sales revenue had dropped by 30% whilst costs had risen by almost 20%.
Speaking to The Age newspaper in Melbourne, independent state MP Craig Ingram said: “We’re bailing out a millionaires’ car race for these sort of dollars, I think we have got our priorities wrong.
“I think it is just outrageous. It has gone past a joke and it is time both sides of politics started to seriously reconsider the ongoing cost of taxpayers bailing out of this event.
“The cost for a car race when as a local member of parliament we struggle to get funding for health services, education, support services for disabled kids at schools, for roads and other infrastructure – I just think there is a whole range of services and other infrastructure which need that sort of money more than a car race.”
But Major Events Minister Tim Holding is convinced there is a wider picture that needs to be viewed, not just narrowing it down to the event over the weekend.
“The economic benefit to Victoria far outweighs the cost of staging the Formula One Grand Prix,” said Holding in The Age.
“The race was seen by about 12.8 million people in Europe this year and the massive television exposure the grand prix receives has helped to build our world-wide reputation as a great place to visit and a great place to live.
“This year’s grand prix attracted the biggest crowd in five years and a television audience of 4.6 million in Australia, and with Mark Webber in such good form we expect next year’s grand prix will be even more exciting.”
The race is scheduled to be staged in Melbourne for the next five years.