Motor Racing Legislation Amendment (Newcastle 500) Bill - Second Reading Debate

Legislative Assembly Hansard - 21 February 2017 - Proof

Start your engines and buckle in—vroom vroom—this redhead is going to out herself in this place as a revhead. One of my earliest and fondest memories is sitting with my father to watch the Hardie-Ferodo 1000. It was a time when my dad was at his most relaxed. He did not drink. We would sit down and watch the race, Peter Brock and the Holdens. It was an important bonding time between us. My poor father had no sons to share this experience with. I blame him and that early grounding in motor sports for my feminist tendencies. When I met my husband he drove an SS Commodore with sports suspension but as we aged it became hard on the back and we traded it in.

I have to declare that I have a serious interest in motorsports. I also have to declare that in the past I was a tourism operator. I have sold my business now, but I have seen the tourism benefits that these events bring. They are really important. For that reason I am glad that V8 Supercars will be coming to Newcastle. I remember many years ago I went to a dragway somewhere near Port Stephens—I am not sure whether it was the same one that the member for Balmain spoke about—and I saw Peter Brock, which was very exciting for me. I remember the excitement that the event generated in the crowd of people—ordinary people, such as my accountant, who enjoy motorsports. On tour, in my former life as a tourism operator, I enjoyed the buzz and hum of an 11-litre engine and a 420-horsepower coach going down Conrod Straight at Bathurst. I have driven around the bends at Bathurst with a busload of pensioners and seen firsthand their excitement. They were perhaps not experiencing the power of a 600-horsepower V8 Supercar, but it was definitely more than six litres. Many people, old and young, have enthusiasm for the sport.

We need to talk about how we are going to manage the event. I congratulate the new Minister for Tourism and Major Events on his appointment to the portfolio. It was good to see him at an event in the Hunter Valley recently. I do not know if the Minister attended the game, but it was good that he was there for the lunch. It was nice to see someone from the Government supporting the community there. Goodness knows, that has not always been the case with this Government. My advice to the Minister is: Please do not make the same mistake as your colleague the Minister for Transport, who is not welcome in many parts of the Hunter Valley because of the paternalistic and ferocious way that he negotiated—some would say dictated—public transport arrangements in our community.

I hope that the Minister will take into consideration the amendments that Labor will move in the other place. They go to the governance arrangements of this event. It is reasonable to move an amendment to reinstate a special government coordination unit to act as a central point between affected local residents, businesses, relevant government agencies, the council and the promoter. There will be no conflict of interest for that body. It will ensure that the event runs well and achieves its aims for tourism, for the fans and for the environment. I like trees. I like heritage. I like the way the east end of Newcastle looks. If we are to host this massive event, the Government says it will bring in more than $55 million. This event will be a love letter to Newcastle. It will tell the world to come to Newcastle and experience its fantastic beaches. This event is similar to the motorcycle event on Phillip Island. People really enjoy the event, but they also enjoy the destination and they decide to go back for another visit. Similarly, many car advertisements are filmed on the great Ocean Road to highlight the road as well as the car. That makes people want to drive on it. These are all important considerations.

We want to see the heritage, the beautiful buildings in that part of town, protected. We want the residents who live there to be looked after. Labor's amendments are not unreasonable. We are not saying that we want to take over the running of the event. That is how members on the other side of the House tend to do things. We are saying: Involve the community. Make it something we can all look forward to. Make it a worthwhile event so that I am not embarrassed when I go to Newcastle. I do not want to have a fight with The Greens or residents in the east end of Newcastle. I want this to be a fantastic event. If we can make this event positive for our community—and I mean the whole of the Hunter region—it will have a life beyond this year. We will start to see a long-term return on investment. That is really important.

I do not know whether the Minister for Tourism and Major Events is aware that we still do not have a Minister for the Hunter. The Minister for Tourism and Major Events represents our community on this issue in Cabinet. There is no other Cabinet representation for the Hunter on this matter. We want to ensure that local voices are heard in this debate. That is not unreasonable. It is not much to ask that the Government include the community and the stakeholders. The Government should make sure that the person who makes decisions is removed from the influence of one party or another. I am pleased to see that the Minister is nodding. I am sure that is a good sign of how the amendments will be received in the other place.

I do not have much more to say in the debate. I will give another plug to the car racing industry. The industry might be scared to see me embracing this event, because I like the environment and I like heritage, but I acknowledge the innovation in cars. The industry has improved. It trials and manufactures new technologies. That means that we drive around in cars and buses with tyres that last longer. The Newcastle 500 is an important event. I beg the Minister not to make the same mistake as the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance. It would be nice to continue to welcome the Minister for Tourism and Major Events to the Hunter as a friend, rather than as someone who cuts train lines and does not talk to people.