WRC

Australia location may change in 2006

Western Australia to give up world rally NOTE: Following is an announcement from the West Australian Tourism Minister today re Rally Australia. All $ are Australian dollars. Canberra has long been considered the favoured location if the event...

Western Australia to give up world rally

NOTE: Following is an announcement from the West Australian Tourism Minister today re Rally Australia. All $ are Australian dollars. Canberra has long been considered the favoured location if the event moved east within Australia, although understand a statement may be coming soon from Queensland -- but its government is already heavily committed to a Champ Car race. Victoria (Melbourne) looked at the feasibility of the rally several years ago but decided not to pursue it. It is an interesting statement in the light of other statements made, including by the FIA, at the time of the recent Australian Grand Prix.

The Statement: State signals the end for Rally

The (West Australian) State Government will seek to end its contract with the motorsport event Rally Australia in 2006 in light of concerns over the economic viability of the event.

Tourism Minister Mark McGowan today said the event did not deliver a sufficient return to WA taxpayers and would be discontinued.

Mr McGowan said he had made the decision to redirect the $4.7million in funds towards other events and promoting WA interstate and abroad.

"The Government will meet its contractual obligations in full," he said.

"We will hold the event in 2005 and are discussing the status of 2006 with the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS)."

Mr McGowan said the State Government was obliged to give notice of its intentions directly following the next Rally event in November but had made the decision to inform the public to give people as much notice as possible.

"I am aware that Rally has been popular in the past and that many people in the community will be sad to see it go," he said.

"However, over the past 15 years, the State Government has been putting more and more money into the event to keep it going and receiving diminishing returns.

"Last year's event cost Western Australian taxpayers $5.9 million to stage, but generated only $9.3 million -- representing $1.60 for every $1 we spent.

"In comparison, the recent Ironman WA event held in Busselton last November returned $5.2million on the Government's investment of $300,000 ($14.70 for every $1 spent).

"The Hopman Cup returns an average of $8.50 for every $1 spent each year.

"To make this event competitive with our other events, there would need to be either a 300 per cent increase in revenue or a cost reduction of 62per cent."

Mr McGowan said he had asked Tourism WA to provide him with a list of taxpayer-funded events and their returns to the State.

"We have had some fantastic events over the past few years and recently acquired the Johnnie Walker Classic and the National Surf Lifesaving Championships, both of which are expected to deliver significant financial returns to the State.

"The State Government will be looking for more events that showcase our natural icons and promote the State as an exciting and nature-based tourism destination."

Mr McGowan said Rally Australia had an established volunteer base in Western Australia, many of whom had dedicated years of service to the event.

"I would like to thank all the volunteers and their families for their work over the years," he said.

"It is never easy to make decisions that will upset people; however, the State Government has an obligation to spend funds wisely."

-courtesy of Geoff Harris

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