Protest against Albert Park privatisation


By Jeremy Smith MELBOURNE — On November 14 the cronyism of the Kennett government was laid bare for all to see. The appointment of Transurban, the consortium tendered to build Melbourne's City Link, as the major sponsor of the 1996 Grand Prix at Albert Park renders the relationship of the Kennett government to its big business buddies transparent. The announcement of Transurban as the major sponsor comes in a context of nervousness among big capital about the viability of the Grand Prix. The other minor sponsors — Qantas, McDonalds and Coca-Cola among them — were reluctant to put their logos on such a controversial event. In the end, it was the government's mates who bailed it out. The scandalous news was received with anger, but not surprise, by Save Albert Park campaigners, many of whom commented that the deal was nothing more than a quid pro quo — a "thankyou" from Transurban for getting the Citylink contract. In response, 150 SAP protesters gathered at the Centra Hotel in the World Trade Centre to protest against Transurban's sponsorship of the Grand Prix. On the same day, 200 demonstrators gathered at Parliament House to protest the Further Amendments Bill. When passed, this Act will restrict public access to Albert Park for up to 17 weeks of the year. The legislation also reserves parts of the park for the exclusive use of the Grand Prix Corporation. Iain Stewart, convener of SAP, told the demonstrators and onlookers that the restrictions on democratic rights contained in the bill could be mimicked in the legislation around the City Link. SAP is planning further protests in December. 255D>

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