Most Melbourne councillors support grand prix – report image

(Inautonews/GMM) Most Melbourne city councillors believe the Australian grand prix should stay in the Victorian capital.

The annual event, which dates back to 1996, has attracted international media coverage recently, particularly after Melbourne’s Lord Mayor said the state government should not sign a new contract.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone angrily hit back, but the story returned to the headlines this week.

Federal MP Michael Danby, whose electorate includes the Albert Park area, told parliament that his constituents overwhelmingly support the ditching of the event.

But the Herald Sun newspaper claims that Danby and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle’s views are actually not widespread.

The report said Doyle has eight fellow Melbourne City councillors, and seven of them “want to keep the annual event despite him saying its time was up”.

“I want it to be here as long as possible,” said councillor Carl Jetter, and his colleague Kevin Louey agreed that F1 is “unlike other sporting events” and “it enhances Melbourne’s name”.

Meanwhile, the 2011 event, scheduled for March 27, is now in the spotlight as the new season opener following the cancellation of the Bahrain race.

“We’ll have the eyes of the formula one world and the sporting world on us,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott.