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Federal Politics

08 Mar 2018

Once again the Formula 1 Grand Prix season is almost upon us

Having now been held in Albert Park since 1996, and with the level of opposition to the event from plenty of people in the community, I’m surprised we’re still debating its merit.

And once again, my office receives letters, emails and phone calls from all over the electorate with concerns regarding the grand prix event ­– the bulk of concerns relating to noise, particularly from the planes flying over and in regards to the physical pollution.

Each year the grand prix causes issues locally. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to media on this topic, nor how many times I’ve written about this, spoken about it but nothing seems to occur for the betterment of everyone involved.

When I was first elected, I tried to give the grand prix a fair go. I even went once. It was like attending a dentist convention. The noise was similar and it was just as unpleasant. But since that initial curiosity I have made my opposition to the grand prix quite clear in statements to Parliament, to the media, and to past governments, both Labor and Liberal.

I believe that, for ethical, economic and political reasons, we should re-think how the grand prix runs this annual event.

I recall the protests of the early years when Jeff Kennett, former premier, then announced that the grand prix would take place around the lake of Albert Park. Plenty of people marched in the city, and at the lake and took up arms against what Kennett thought would be a good plan for the inner city and the state. The electorate hated it then, and still hate it now.

I understand and empathise with residents in relation to the noise levels and the effects of the pollution on our community. I have long opposed the grand prix and, like residents in Melbourne Ports, I voice concerns about the overall financial impact the grand prix has on the state, with the costs of holding the event seemingly far outweighing any perceived benefit.

I have been told that local residents leave for the weekend that the grand prix is on to avoid the event’s inconveniences. Unless you’re a Formula 1 enthusiast, what’s in it for us?

All of these issues are not even mentioning the out-dated use of “grid girls”, a sexist and old fashioned practice at any sporting event, let alone the grand prix which attracts thousands who can view this “tradition”.

I’m pleased to see that F1 decided this year to ban grid girls and work towards stopping objectifying and sexualising young women when their purpose on stage is only for that reason. But really, it still doesn’t make this event suitable for our local area.

We all support Victoria’s reputation as Australia’s leading sporting state and hope that this continues, however major events need to be suitable for the area for they are being held in.

The state government has invested plenty in Albert Park – over $3.25 million for various upgrades at Albert Park, including upgrading the lake wall walk and the Albert Park Lake fitness trail. However the grand prix still seems to be a sticking point for plenty of people who, predictably, contact me on this issue every year.

On behalf of my constituents who do raise this issue with me and my office every year, I will continue to voice my concerns on this matter in any way I possibly can.

I want to keep listening to your thoughts on this issue. Let me know what you think if I haven’t heard from you already. You can email me at Michael.Danby.MP@aph.gov.au

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