OCTOBER 25, 1999
Kennett goes but Melbourne GP safe
THE Victorian state premier Jeff Kennett, the man who lured Grand Prix racing to Melbourne, resigned last week after it became clear that he would not be able to form a new state government. He also resigned from his position as leader of the Liberal Party. The decision came after three independent members of the Victorian parliament met and decided to support the Labour Party leader Steve Bracks. For the last few weeks Kennett has been waiting to see what the independents would do following the September 18 election when Labour won 42 seats and Kennett's coalition 43. Bracks has already established a new state government and Labour Party sources confirm that Ron Walker, a Kennett ally and chairman of the VictorianÊMajorÊEvents company can stay on in the job if he wishes to do so. The Labour Party has also confirmed that it wants the Grand Prix to continue but said that Kennett's government had "abused the event to promote itself and priced attendance out of the reach of average Victorians". The new government has pledged to make the event more accessible to the public with reduced prices.
While this is an admirable sentiment, Victorians have repeatedly complained about public money being spent on the Grand Prix and lowering the prices is likely to increase the need for state subsidies for the race - which could create problems in the years ahead.