Wellington Gets ‘Rarked Up’ By V8 Race
Wellington Gets ‘Rarked Up’ By V8 Race
By Kevin List
“The V8 race is not about us and them, it’s not personal or anything like that - it is really about fiscal irresponsibility, lost opportunities and image,” thundered author Lloyd Jones last evening. Mr Jones was speaking to a packed meeting in downtown Wellington of ratepayers and residents concerned they were not getting the full picture of the costs and damage likely to result from seven years of V8 street races in Wellington.
Supporters of the V8 race have been pushing the economic benefits of the race, however Mr Jones considered that the economic benefits were unlikely to trickle down to the wider population. Mr Jones pointed out that a chamber of commerce report pointed out that over 70% of the revenue likely to accrue from holding the race would go into bars and hotels.
Mr Jones seemed particularly upset that ratepayers and inner city retailers were being asked to pay so that a very small section of the population could make enormous profits.
Mr Jones was also scathing about the claims made by Wellington’s mayor, Kerry Prendergast that the V8 event would bring ‘un-quantifiable international publicity’. “Not all publicity is good publicity, cars on steroids blasting around the waterfront is not a good look for a city that actively promotes itself as the creative capital.”
Whilst race promoters had pointed to the race having a potential audience of hundreds of millions, Mr Jones noted that so does Wrestlemania and pondered whether Wellington should host ‘ Wrestlemania - or a chainsaw convention’?
Deputy Mayor Alick Shaw was a prime target for the acidic wit of Mr Jones, “I’ve heard Alick Shaw speak about the need for cultural diversity and that somehow the V8 race is supposed to deliver that…he mentions the sevens, the wearable arts, the international arts festival and tries to lump the V8 race into that company. He misses a crucial point: people have the choice to go to the sevens or the opera or the symphony. The V8 race denies people that choice because the city becomes the venue,” he said.
Other speakers throughout the evening pointed to the ecological impacts of the V8 race and Green MP Sue Kedgley was scathing about the economic impact reports that have been prepared by McDermott Miller for the Wellington City Council. Ms Kedgley was of the opinion that the economic impact report painted rather too rosy a picture of the economic benefits of the race. This report was also savaged by Victoria University economic professor Martin Lally in an academic paper which is available online via Scoop. [See Martin Lally’s report- http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0504/S00046.htm]
As well as ratepayers, a number of Wellington retailers were also at the meeting and were annoyed that whilst the V8 race was likely to benefit major hotel chains and waterfront drinking establishments, the race - in their opinion - was also likely to create major parking difficulties in town. One of the retailers stated that he would be shutting up shop over the proposed race weekend.
After the meeting Scoop obtained a copy of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Auditor-General’s Office Report, a performance audit report which looked at the costs and benefits of the same race when held in Canberra.
Some of the key points made in this report are that:
- The conduct of the 2000 and 2001 races had significant negative economic results for the ACT;
-The economic benefits for the ACT announced as being generated by the 2000 and 2001 races were overstated, and provided little information useful for making judgements on the success of the race or making decisions on the conduct of future races;
-The actual direct financial costs of conducting the 2000 and 2001 races were greater than the Government’s original expectations and the cost of the 2001 race was almost twice that forecast.
Website for those opposed to the V8 race - http://www.heartbeat.org.nz/