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Melbourne Tourism Minister rules out night race

NEWS STORY
04/02/2008

Following Bernie Ecclestone's demand that the Australian GP follow Singapore's lead and become a night race or face being dropped from the F1 calendar, Victoria's Tourism Minister, Tim Holding, has been quick to react.

"We don't want to lose it," he told Melbourne newspaper The Age, "but we don't want to pay any price for it either. So it's a balance."

In addition to a night race, Ecclestone is seeking more money and better promotion of the event, which is bad new for taxpayers when one considers that the Grand Prix Corporation's annual report has revealed that last yea's even cost taxpayers $34.6m (AUD) up from $21m (AUD) in 2006.

This, according to The Age, is more than triple the $10.6m (AUD) the Government spent to keep the event going in 2003. This year's event is already expected to lose around $40m (AUD).

Ron Walker, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, and a close friend of Ecclestone's, described the forthcoming negotiations over the event's future as "a game of cards between the Victorian Government and Bernie Ecclestone".

"These things take a while to negotiate," he said, "so let the game begin."

It will be interesting to hear how the taxpayers regard this particular "game".

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