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Melbourne holds it breath

THE future of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne has been brought into question by the poor performance of the ruling Liberal Party in Victoria's state elections last weekend. State Premier Jeff Kennett took a battering from the rival Labour Party led by Steve Bracks. It is not clear who will emerge to form the new administration but the best that Kennett can hope for is a two-seat majority, compared to the 22-seat majority he has enjoyed since 1992. It is possible that Labour might ally with a number of independent members of the state parliament to oust Kennett completely.

Kennett has been the driving force behind the Grand Prix in Melbourne and the Liberal Party treasurer is Grand Prix boss Ron Walker.

According to Kim Beazley, the head of the Australian Labour Party, Kennett's poor performance was due to "an enormous ego problem". The voters want him to pay more attention to health, education and other community issues rather than his grand schemes such as the development of Melbourne as a major international city with major events such as the Grand Prix.

The Labour Party has been opposed to the Grand Prix because they argue it is costing Victorian taxpayers to stage the event. The city has a contract to continue to run the race until the end of the 2006 season but pressure on the politicians could change all that. Even if Kennett does manage to stay in power the race could be in jeopardy if it does not break even.

Adelaide is still interested in winning back the Grand Prix and has recently started to stage other events on the streets of the city.

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