Greens Opposition to the Grand Prix

Written on the 14 March 2012

Ms Pennicuik (Greens) moved:
That this house take note of the letter from the Minister for Tourism and Major Events, 6 February 2012, and related documents relating to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation tabled in this house on 30 June 2011.

Before Ms Pennicuik rises to respond in the debate on her motion, I also want to speak to her motion.


However, before I do so, I want to comment on Mr Leane's contribution that those in the chamber have just heard. It was quite extraordinary -- digging holes, filling in holes, digging more holes and filling in more holes. But in relation to what we are talking about, this is a little bit like Groundhog Day. I feel we are revisiting old ground, because it was not so long ago that this was discussed in great detail.


I see Ms Pennicuik has a rather large green folder of documents that have been released to her.


[Mr Elsbury interjected.]


It is no other colour; it is green quite appropriately. In Mr O'Donohue's contribution he also had reams of paper.


He went through and highlighted documents relating to various aspects that have been requested and released by the minister, as I did the last time I spoke on a motion in relation to the grand prix. In fact the Minister for Tourism and Major Events has done an extraordinary job in releasing a great deal of information and a great number of documents. I believe that is in direct contrast to what occurred under the previous government.


To go back to the substance of this motion, I put on the record the stance that the Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Louise Asher, has taken. As Ms Pennicuik highlighted in speaking in support of her motion, a number of concerns were raised some time ago, but at almost this time last year the minister announced there would be an economic impact assessment commissioned in relation to the grand prix. A comprehensive review was undertaken, and in July of last year the minister delivered that economic assessment and quite rightly highlighted it in a media release of 22 July, which states:


The Victorian coalition government has delivered on its promise to commission a comprehensive study of the economic value of the grand prix for the state, and to make that report publicly available ...


The former Labor government commissioned a similar study in 2008. Labor refused to release the study publicly.


There is a stark contrast between what this government is doing and what the previous government did. The media release goes on to say that:


Victoria's major events strategy delivers an economic impact of approximately $1.4 billion for Victoria each year.


That is an important reference to make, because major events are very important. Tourism is also very important and is a major economic driver for the state.


As Mr O'Donohue has rightly acknowledged, the grand prix is just one of those major events. I note that some great events have occurred and are occurring in the state. Currently we have the Grace Kelly exhibition in Bendigo. It is a fantastic event, which I am looking forward to viewing. We have had the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. We have had the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. These are all major events, which deliver economic benefits to the state of Victoria and play a huge role in the hospitality industry, employing thousands upon thousands of Victorians.


In these challenging times when we face uncertainty from a global perspective, a high and rising dollar and a great deal of uncertainty from a federal government with a looming carbon tax that is going to affect many businesses, giving that certainty to events and securing events like that will be of great benefit to Victoria. As I said, in her role the minister has ensured that that will continue.


I have seen another media release from the minister today, who in attracting major events and in attracting tourism and visitors to the state has seen an increase in visitations to Victoria, which is very good news.


According to the latest national visitor survey released today there was a 4.3 per cent growth in domestic overnight expenditure in Victoria to $9 billion in the 12 months to December 2011. The national visitor survey result also found tourism in regional Victoria continued to grow. Domestic overnight expenditure in regional Victoria increased by 6.5 per cent year-on-year to $4.2 billion in the year ending December 2011. They are very good results for Victoria. It just shows we are leading the way in this very important industry sector and, as I said, our range of major events and the way


we are able to secure and hold them, whether they are sporting events, arts and cultural events or large business and conference events, is the envy of the other states around Australia.


I would like to turn to another aspect of this debate. Last night there was an extraordinary contribution from Kelvin Thomson, the member for Wills in the federal Parliament. He said that Victoria should dump the grand prix. Before I go onto Mr Thomson's contribution, I will refer back to 1999 when the coalition left office. The Kennett government had secured this event from Adelaide, as was previously mentioned by Mr Leane who was very supportive of that initiative.


[Mr Elsbury interjected.]


Does he prefer Adelaide over Melbourne?


[Mr Elsbury -- He felt sorry for them.]


I would have thought Mr Leane would be supporting Melbourne and its locals. In any case, when we left government in 1999 the cost of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix was $3.2 million, but under Labor it had blown out to $49.2 million by 2010. That is a significant blow-out, but it is what the previous Labor government did -- it was very good at blowing budgets, as we all know.


I want to return to the comments Mr Thomson made last night in the federal Parliament when he said the money should be spent elsewhere. He mentioned a couple of things, including education, and he said his electorate needed a new high school in Coburg. I heard him on radio this morning. He said he had been advocating for years and years for a high school in Coburg, and I thought hat was a great endorsement of the previous government.


He must have had absolutely no faith in the previous government if he was wanting a high school in his area and his colleagues ignored had his plight for so long. He is probably quite right in his pleas falling on deaf ears, but nevertheless he reiterated just what the previous government had been doing.


Mr Thomson went on to say that the grand prix money could run this high school and other schools which are desperately needed as a result of Melbourne's rapid population growth. That is another acknowledgement of the failure of the previous government to undertake any planning in terms of population growth. A huge number of people came to Victoria during the previous government's time in office, but the lack of infrastructure and planning, whether for education -- --


[Mr Leane interjected.]


You had 11 years, Mr Leane.


Mr Thomson endorsed our comments and our argument that your government failed in planning for health, transport and education. He again said that he had been arguing the case for years and years.


[Mr Leane interjected.]


Let us have a look at that. I am pleased to have that point taken up by Mr Leane, because when we did come to power, almost 18 months ago or thereabouts, we inherited a state in need of repair. There were many things that needed to be done. Programs and projects had blown out and overrun their completion times, and there was a lack of planning in a number of areas. Worse than that, last year an interim report of the independent review of state finances was undertaken because we wanted to review the state finances to see what actually needed to be done. That report confirmed that Victoria's finances went into a structural deficit under the Brumby Labor government.


It confirmed that the Labor government's spending over the past decade outpaced revenue, and if that had continued to be the case, the Brumby government would have taken Victoria down a path which would have meant that by 2015-16 it would have been forced to borrow in order to pay ongoing expenses. I have highlighted the failure of the Brumby Labor government's ability to adequately invest in vital infrastructure, such as Mr Thomson's school.


Since coming to government, we have been absolutely fiscally responsible in the initiatives we have undertaken. We have been delivering on our election commitments, and one of those commitments was to look at the grand prix. The minister has been managing that process, but she has also been supporting the major events industry, because it provides for great economic stimulus and job provision for much of Victoria, not only around the CBD and the area surrounding Albert Park but more broadly and into regional Victoria.


We will not be opposing Ms Pennicuik's motion, but I again commend the minister for continuing to perform and attract some great major events to the state.

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