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Albert Park MP says ditch GP

NEWS STORY
21/02/2011

An MP whose constituency includes Albert Park, home of the Australian Grand Prix, says the city of Melbourne should cut its losses and ditch the event.

"The Grand Prix may have been a good deal in 1996, when it cost the government only $1.7 million; but, with falling crowd numbers and taxpayers footing a $50 million-a-year bill, the government should cut its losses and walk away," Michael Danby told parliament.

"Rising costs, dwindling crowds, fed-up local residents, an ambivalent Melbourne mayor - to me, everything points to Melbourne saying 'thanks for the memories' but gracefully declining to renew the contract."

Melbourne's contract to host the Grand Prix runs until 2015, but in the face of continually rising losses - all met by the hard-pressed taxpayer - there is a growing feeling that the city should dump the event.

Last month, Melbourne's Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, called for the race to be dropped, claiming that annual losses on the event could soon reach $70m AUD (42.3m).

The 2010 event saw a total loss of $49.4m AUD (29.5m), and followed a loss of $40m for the 2009 event, indeed, the losses have been steadily growing since 2005 when the Albert Park event lost $13m (5.3m).

With Bernie Ecclestone still dithering over whether the Bahrain Grand Prix should be cancelled or postponed, there is every likelihood that Melbourne will kick off the season for the first time since 2009.

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