Save Albert Park forum
By Alana Kerr
MELBOURNE — On June 13 a public forum organised by the Save Albert Park group was held at the South Melbourne town hall. The forum, titled "The Grand Prix: where the political parties stand", was attended by 150 activists from community campaigns including those to defend Albert park, Princes Park and the Yarra bend, and the Coalition Against Freeway Extensions.
Speakers included representatives from the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties, People Together, Rainbow Alliance, the Australian Democrats, the Greens and the ALP.
The first two groups highlighted the need for public education and debate about the effects on our rights of changes such as privatisation of public resources, demolition of democratic local government and legislation blocking avenues of protest.
The Greens, the Democrats and Rainbow Alliance spoke of the role of minor parties in broadening the policies of the major parties to include minority views. They also addressed the advantages of proportional representation in elections and the need for government representatives to be more accountable.
Bruce Mildenhall from the ALP highlighted the Kennett government's lack of consultation with people directly affected by the construction of the race track at Albert Park and the secretive way in which negotiations with business interests about public assets were conducted.
Mildenhall was unable to state that an ALP government in Victoria would stop the Grand Prix, or even relocate it. The majority of those attending the forum expressed dissatisfaction with this response and repeatedly asked Mildenhall to justify his party's position. In response, Mildenhall stated that a future ALP government would have to factor in the cost benefits of keeping the Grand Prix at Albert Park, adding that the ALP may be bound to maintain this location by contractual agreements it did not yet know about.