Ron Walker, Mark Webber, Abu Dhabi, 2010

2011 Australian Grand Prix at risk in row

2011 F1 calendarPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ron Walker, Mark Webber, Abu Dhabi, 2010
Ron Walker, Mark Webber, Abu Dhabi, 2010

The 2011 Australian Grand Prix is at risk as the event’s promoters and the race organisers have failed to resolve a dispute.

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, who have run every world championship Australian Grand Prix, and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation who promote the race, have been unable to a agree a deal for CAMS to organise the race from 2011 and on. The current deal expired in April this year.

CAMS and AGPC’s chief executive agreed a deal in August, but it was rejected by the AGPC board. They have until November 19th to reach an agreement.

Race promoter Ron Walker is in Abu Dhabi this weekend for meetings with Bernie Ecclestone. In the meantime CAMS have issued the following statement to explain their position:

CAMS says safety is the number one priority for Grand Prix

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) has been the organiser of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix since 1985 in Adelaide and since 1996 at Albert Park in Melbourne.

CAMS has noted recent media reports in relation to the 2011 Australian Formula One Grand Prix which contain serious factual inaccuracies, which it wishes to correct.

CAMS’ annual fee to organise the Australian Formula One Grand Prix is substantially less than the AUD$800,000 or ??500,000 stated in some reports, being less than AUD$500,000, plus GST and some corporate hospitality and associated contra benefits provided at minimal cost to the current promoter of the event.

The FIA Formula One World Championship is owned by the Federation Internationale de L?Automobile (FIA). The FIA operates through its various National Sporting Associations ( ASN ) which it requires to enter into an agreement for the conduct of each Grand Prix.

The current Promoter, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) is a Victorian Government statutory corporation under the direction and control of the Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events.

CAMS is a not-for-profit confederation with over 50,000 members in Australia and over 10,000 members in Victoria.

CAMS has in recent years made a very small surplus, all of which is reinvested in the grass roots of motor sport in Victoria and Australia, through programs such as CAMS Ignition schools program, the CAMS Rising Star program, the Australian Institute for Motor Sport Safety and the Australian Motor Sport Foundation, as well as the services that CAMS provides to its members.

As the FIA endorsed National Sporting Association (ASN) and Australian Commonwealth Government recognised peak National Sporting Organisation (NSO) only CAMS has the experience, people and processes to safely organise the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

This is an issue about safety and not fees and we do not believe the Australian Formula One Grand Prix can be run safely without the high degree of professional and safety expertise that CAMS can deliver.

CAMS is globally recognised as the organiser of Grand Prix with the highest standards of safety and efficiency. For this reason CAMS has been requested to and has provided extensive assistance to the Organisers of the Singapore, Bahrain and Korean Grand Prix in recent years. In October 2010, 120 of CAMS staff and officials travelled to Korea and were instrumental in the successful staging of the inaugural Korean Grand Prix.

Since the expiry of the previous agreement in April 2010, CAMS has been in discussions with AGPC for the terms of a new Agreement between the organisations under which CAMS will organise the 2011 and subsequent Australian Grand Prix.

CAMS is acutely conscious of the need to reign in spending on Formula One events, particularly events such as the Australian Grand Prix where any shortfall in direct operating costs are met by the taxpayer. CAMS firmly believes that the benefits to the Victorian and Australian economies and communities as a whole greatly exceed these shortfalls in operating costs.

In August 2010 after months of negotiation CAMS and AGPC’s Chief Executives reached agreement on a proposal which was put to AGPC’s Board. However that proposal was rejected by AGPC’s Board.

Since that time AGPC’s Board has refused to negotiate further with CAMS and has summarily rejected two revised proposals put to it, despite CAMS and the FIA making it clear that the consequences of failing to appoint an organiser by 19 November will be that the 2011 Australian Grand Prix does not take place. The Victorian Government has been kept informed of developments.

CAMS and the FIA have also received the advice of Senior Counsel that their actions in putting a fair proposal to the AGPC in no way contravene Australian competition law or are in any way inappropriate.

To put the current dispute in context, the cost to AGPC of CAMS’ services is less than 0.625% of the AGPC’s annual budget and the difference between CAMS and AGPC is less than 0.1% of AGPC’s annual budget.

CAMS, as a not-for-profit membership based organisation, cannot and will not use its members funds to subsidise the Victorian Government’s operating costs to stage the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

The FIA requires that a Grand Prix may only be organised in Australia if CAMS is prepared to sign an Organisation Agreement with the FIA. At CAMS request the FIA has extended the deadline for CAMS to confirm it will sign such an agreement until November 19. Under FIA rules, without CAMS agreement as ASN, the AGP will not be conducted.

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