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FEBRUARY 26, 1996

Trouble and threats in Melbourne

THE protests against the Australian Grand Prix being held in Albert Park, Melbourne, are intensifying as the race draws closer. Last weekend Melbourne police arrested another 75 protesters at the Grand Prix site. More than half of them were involved in a ball game on the pit straight - a clever tactic designed to highlight their argument that the Grand Prix is stopping people using the park as a recreational area.

Members of the group have said that they plan to stage "an international incident" at the race, and they are also believed to be trying to instigate legal action against the event in the hope of winning an injunction to stop the Grand Prix on the grounds of noise pollution.

The Victorian state premier Jeff Kennett - who has pushed through unpopular legislation to make sure that the event takes place - says that any legal action would be "un-Australian" and he is confident that the legal challenge will fail.

There are, at most, around 400 people willing to join the protests, while the organizers at Melbourne are gearing up to cater for 400,000 people in the course of the Grand Prix weekend.