Rann meets Ecclestone

South Australian state premier Mike Rann is in London at the moment and yesterday met two important figures: Her Majesty the Queen and Bernie Ecclestone. Rann had a 30-minute audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and there is speculation in Adelaide that he has invited her to visit Adelaide before she opens the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next year. Rann is up for re-election next year and is currently very active with schemes to boost the economy in South Australia. A former tourism minister back in the era when Adelaide hosted Formula 1 races, Rann has ambitions to take the Grand Prix back off Melbourne at some point and his visit to Ecclestone is believed to have been simply to stay in touch. Melbourne has a contract for the event until 2010, even if there are increasing problems with the financing of the event, as each year it seems to cost the Victorian government more money. Ecclestone has said in the past that if anything happens to Melbourne, F1 would happily go back to Adelaide.

Adelaide's problem is that it is significantly smaller than Melbourne and so is able to generate less income and thus cannot afford to invest as much as Melbourne. However Adelaide also has fewer people opposed to the F1 event and runs a very successful street event for V8 Supercars which this year attracted an impressive 360,900 people over the race weekend. Rann's government invests $1.2m a year in the event but considers this to be a real bargain. It is reckoned that the visitors inject around $15m into the economy but these numbers would grow considerably if F1 returned because of the increase in out of state visitors.

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