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Haese instructed to send Bignell futile Formula One request

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The Adelaide City Council last night instructed the Lord Mayor to write to Tourism Minister Leon Bignell, asking him to look into returning the Formula One Grand Prix to Adelaide. That’s despite the minister saying publicly, repeatedly this month, that he was not interested in the idea and councillors were “clowns” for suggesting it.

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South Ward councillor Alex Antic proposed a motion last night instructing Lord Mayor Martin Haese to write to Bignell indicating the council’s interest in the event returning to Adelaide and asking for its viability to be explored.

The annual international motor racing event moved from Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996, where it has since remained.

Antic said rumours had been circulating that the event may move again that that the council should “strike while the iron’s hot” and show that it was interested in the race returning to Adelaide.

During his speech, Antic acknowledged that Tourism Minister Bignell had labelled councillors “clowns” for the suggestion earlier this month, but argued that the council should nonetheless write to the minister and put its position “on the record”.

“It was a terrific event – it had a great importance in the city,” said Antic.

He said he was “quite happy to be told” there was no chance of the event returning to Adelaide, however: “If we don’t [inquire with Bignell] we’ll never know.”

Bignell was quoted in News Corp publication The City last week saying “we’re not interested in it [returning the Grand Prix to Adelaide],” that city councillors were “the most infuriating people in South Australia” and that council “clowns” should support the events they have, rather than pushing for ones they do not.

It was the second time Bignell had publicly expressed antipathy towards the idea this month.

He reiterated that view to InDaily this morning: “We have no interest in holding Formula One in Adelaide.”

Area councillor Natasha Malani told last night’s meeting “we are going to look a bit stupid” by passing the motion and that “we need to put a bit more thinking and substance to it”.

Malani voted for the motion, however.

She told InDaily this morning that Adelaide already had a “great Supercars event” – the Clipsal 500, and that “its economic benefit is equal if not greater and it costs a lot less to run [than Formula One racing]”.

“It would be great to have Formula One back in Adelaide … but we need to be realistic about this,” she said.

“Those interested in writing to the minister need to do a little bit more homework on what’s involved.”

South Ward councillor Priscilla Corbell, who voted against the motion, told InDaily this morning it was “exasperating” for the council to have decided to write to Bignell desipte his public comments.

“He’s … made it very clear that he doesn’t want to see a proposal from Adelaide City Council [about Formula One],” she said.

She added the idea should instead be discussed at the Capital City Committee and a more detailed proposal sent to the minister at a later date.

Haese was sick and unable to chair the meeting last night. Deputy Lord Mayor Megan Hender chaired the meeting in his place.

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