Australian Grand Prix Corporation: Attendance Records (20.02.2013)

Written on the 7 March 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am very pleased to rise to speak to Ms Pennicuik's motion 521, in which she moves:

 

 

That this house calls on the government to require the Australian Grand Prix Corporation to undertake a full and accurate count of attendance at the Formula 1 Grand Prix to be held in Melbourne on 14 to 17 March 2013 inclusive, including a full and accurate breakdown of attendance by --

(a) paid general admission;

(b) grandstand and corporate suites;

(c) complimentary or free admission including all classes of accredited attendees including media, officials, race teams and all other event staff; and

(d) the number of free passes issued but not used;

 

and to publicly release this information by 18 March 2013.

 

I know Ms Pennicuik has risen on a number of occasions to speak about the grand prix. In relation to this particular motion there are a number of points I would like to make. I have to dispute the claim of those opposite who have said we have not undertaken a transparent process. In fact this government has been very transparent in releasing a number of documents, and it has done so over the time I have been in the house. In relation to this particular event, the government has released a number of documents, as I said. They have included agreements between the grand prix corporation and various stakeholders in the area, transport service agreements, documents pertaining to funding agreements, memorandums of understanding and incident-response related documents. That is just a snapshot of a number of documents that have been released in relation to the event we are speaking about today. There is no doubt that the grand prix is one of the events that showcases Melbourne in a particularly positive light. It exists alongside a number of other major events undertaken in Melbourne, such as the Australian Open, the Melbourne Cup, the international airshow down at Avalon, which is on in a few weeks time, as Mr Elsbury reminded me, and a number of other international events which attract regional, national and international visitors to our capital and our state. That is a tremendous advantage we have over some other major cities in Australia. We do not have certain attractions such as the Barrier Reef or other natural attractions that draw tourism, but these major events provide an enormous boost to Victoria's economy and in turn to Australia's economy. That cannot be left unsaid, because we are renowned for our tourism. It is something that both sides of the political divide absolutely agree on.

 

Ms Pennicuik referred to a Herald Sun article.


I also refer to an article in the Herald Sun of 24 January which refers to comments from Mr Holding, who was then the shadow Treasurer. Mr Holding resigned last Friday from his position as the member for Lyndhurst in the Assembly and is no longer here. The article states:

... shadow Treasurer, Tim Holding, backed the government pursuing the event for Melbourne after 2015, saying it was a truly 'blockbuster' event that boosted the state.
'The cost borne by taxpayers by far and away is outstripped by the economic benefits to Victoria', he said, insisting the race still represented excellent 'value for money'.

 

I am a little perplexed by the fact that Mr Lenders supported this.


Does Mr Lenders support Mr Holding's position, or has he changed his stance in the last four days? Mr Holding has taken an interesting position. He is obviously not here any longer to defend it, but the point is that the grand prix provides an enormous economic benefit. Many people see the race. I have never been to or seen the race, but I think Ms Pennicuik said she has witnessed it. I am not sure if that was in person or on television. It certainly is an enjoyable event for those who see it.

 

The whole event provides great opportunities for many people. As I mentioned, there are economic opportunities for young people who might be employed on a casual basis. They get experience in hospitality, customer service, media and marketing. It gives them a great on-the-job experience that they can use to further their careers. The grand prix offers extraordinary benefits to many of those young people who get involved in it.


I return to the crux of what Ms Pennicuik is requesting in relation to this information. The Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Ms Asher, has made a number of undertakings. In the interests of transparency she commissioned Ernst & Young to undertake an economic impact assessment of the 2011 Australian Formula One Grand Prix. She released the results in conjunction with the 2012 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, and that shows a truly transparent minister who is prepared to release results. Minister Asher talked about the release of those results in a press release. She said that to meet its commitment the government had:

 

... again released results figures for both events ahead of the tabling of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's annual report. That annual report will contain various details relating to particular areas of interest.


In 2008 the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) upheld the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's (AGPC) decision not to release documents containing information in relation to total ticket sales. In that particular case the VCAT ruling stated:

 

It allows all of the entities with which the respondent -- the AGPC -- must deal -- sponsors, competitors, corporate customers -- access to data from which they can strengthen their bargaining position at the expense of the respondent.


It is fairly evident that information was not released.

 

There is no doubt that this, along with those other international events that I have mentioned, is a very popular event. It showcases Melbourne extremely well and goes a long way to promoting it as the most livable city. All members can be proud of the fact that we live in a city that has received such an accolade, and I think we should continue to promote it.


Ms Asher raised another issue when she was talking about ticketing sales in the press release that I referred to earlier, and I want to draw members attention to it. The Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive officer, Mr Westacott, said that since 2010 there had been a 14 per cent increase in ticket sale revenue for the Formula One event as well as a 17 per cent increase in total revenue. That demonstrates the event is having the sort of impact that is at the heart of what we are talking about in relation to attracting regional, national and international visitors. It is showcasing Melbourne, and it provides an enormous economic boost.

 

That whole major events calendar generates in the vicinity of $1.4 billion each year. That is something we need to continue to promote and support. The Australian Formula One Grand Prix is one of those events that assists in attracting and promoting business and attracting people to work in the industry. As Mr O'Donohue said, this is a specific request by


Ms Pennicuik that the government will not be supporting. With those words I indicate I will also be opposing the motion.


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