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OCTOBER 26, 2005

Ron gets into trouble

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker is accustomed to controversy, but in his latest skirmish in Melbourne he has been branded "yesterday's man" by a member of the Liberal Party, for which he has long been an important fundraiser. The 66-year-old Walker has upset local Liberals in Melbourne by suggesting that Ted Baillieu would make a good leader in future. Baillieu is a member of Liberal Party's state leader, Robert Doyle's parliamentary team.

Doyle's deputy, Phil Honeywood, rebuked Walker as "yesterday's man", adding that "he needs to move on".

"He's got his personal preferences, but we prefer Liberals who support their leader," said Honeywood.

Another senior Liberal, Victor Perton, said Walker's recent remark had been "extremely unhelpful".

For once Walker, who missed the recent Formula 1 Commission because of illness, had little more to say, but Melbourne's broadsheet Age newspaper, of which he is also chairman, believed he was "surprised and irritated" by Honeywood's attack.

Although some of the local papers are trying to portray the spat as civil war in the Liberal Party, Doyle defended Walker saying that "his work, particularly over the Commonwealth Games and the Grand Prix, has made Melbourne the events capital of not just Australia but the world".