Albert Park is not the "historic" home of the Australian Grand Prix. A few motor races were held in the 1950's on established roads with no impact on the Park environment. No racing was Formula One. In 1959 the Bolte Government banned all further racing on the grounds of noise and denial of public access to parkland.
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Australian Grand Prix Act
The use of Albert Park has required facilitating legislation whose provisions have caused a major outcry from the Council of Civil Liberties, the Bar Council and the Law Institute of Victoria. The Act excludes claims for compensation, removes the event from the jurisdiction of the Victorian Supreme Court, overrides environmental and planning laws, overrides the Freedom of Information Act, and grants the Australian Grand Prix Corporation extensive powers to occupy and undertake works in the park - see Australian Grand Prix Act 1994 for further details.
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Decision Making Process
The decision to use Albert Park as the venue was announced on 17 December 1993, just one week after the release of the Draft Strategy Plan for the enhancement of Albert Park. This plan was developed after 12 months of community consultation and made no reference to plans for a Grand Prix. The decision to use Albert Park was made without any regard to expected procedures for such a government project.
No public consultation - the agreement signed with Bernie Ecclestone was made without any Parliamentary debate or even cabinet discussion. There was no consultation with the local community or the motor sport industry. At no stage were other options for the venue of the race considered by the Government.
No environmental impact assessment - the Government refused to conduct an environmental impact assessment and subsequently enacted the Australian Grand Prix Act 1994 to exempt the event from the Environment Effects Act.
No cost-benefit analysis - the conversion of the Park has already cost at least $55 million of taxpayers', money for what is purported to be a temporary street track. South Australia spent less than $26 milllon on its circuit over the 11 years of the Grand Prix.
Lack of reliable information on plans for the circuit until works began - works on the Grand Prix track commenced only two weeks after the release of the final plans. Prior to the release the public had been told that there would be no permanent race infrastructure.
The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and motor sport identities are on record as having favoured the development of a permanent venue which could host other racing and activities, as is the practice overseas. The Government ignored all advice that other sites could be developed more cheaply.
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Environs of the Park
Albert Park is the only major area of open space for the residents of the City of Port Phillip. More than 114,000 live within three km of the track. These and other Victorians are denied free access for a week and are forced to use a degraded park for the four months when the weather is at its best.
The location of most overseas tracks recognises the impact of such races on the community; few tracks are in inner city locations (see Formula One Grand Prix Circuits & Circuits Used in 1992-1996 Formula One Grand Prix Calendars for further details). There are 30,000 residents and 50 education, health or aged care institutions all within one kilometre of the Albert Park track.
More than 150 homes were damaged during construction works which required dynamic compaction of the unstable landfall foundations.
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Impact of the Grand Prix Circuit
In sharp contrast to Adelaide where the circuit used city streets adjacent to parkland and where the pits area, including temporary pit garages, used the race course, the Albert Park circuit is new and purpose-built. The park roads have been re-built and radically altered in appearance, and permanent pit garages, concrete underpasses, and pit access lanes have been constructed. The park now has an additional 50,000 sq. metres of asphalt.
The building of the race track has cost over 1000 trees (including mature elms and pre-white settlement native gums), the loss of wildlife habitat and disappearance of birdlife, reductions in sports facilities, replacement of a boulevard by a treeless straight and chicanes, and a vegetation program designed around racing facilities.
The concentration of the pits infrastructure in the sports precinct means that 22 sports grounds are affected during the 17 weeks set-up/dismantling period and by the inevitable damage to surfaces which denied some clubs use of their home grounds until mid-June or later. The golf course is closed to the public for around four weeks.
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Save Albert Park Campaign
Save Albert Park was formed in February 1994. Its objectives are to stop motor racing in Albert Park, to restore the park as public parkland for the Victorian community, and to work to protect Albert Park from the impact of the Grand Prix & other inappropriate development and activities.
It is a well-organised community movement of many thousands of members drawn from throughout Melbourne and Victoria. Only a minority of its membership is local.
Save Albert Park has the support of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the peak Victorian trade union council and all three opposition parties (Australian Labor Party, Australian Democrats, and Greens) It has become recognised as both the strongest defender of parks and an inspiration to other groups for the defence of Melbourne's heritage, rights of citizens and democratic principles. Save Albert Park was a leading player in the adoption of a new Parklands Code to which over 50 groups are now signatory.
Save Albert Park has held six rallies in Melbourne and another two in London; maintained a daily vigil in the park since November 1994; and conducted a sustained campaign of civil disobedience and park protests to delay construction works in the park. There have been more than 600 arrests, but no protester has yet been convicted.
Save Albert Park is working to confront Mr Ecclestone and FOCA with international criticism of the use of parkland for motor racing. International links with New York and Monza park groups have been established. The chairman of the Committee to Stop Auto Racing in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, New York, addressed the October 1995 rally. A representative of the coalition of environmental groups campaigning to protect Monza Park attended the march and rally on 10 March 1996.
Save Albert Park will not go away, but will continue its struggle to stop motor racing in Albert Park and restore it as public parkland for year-round enjoyment for passive and active community recreation.