Under-fire Australian Grand Prix posts AUD 49m loss

Melbourne: The 2010 Australian Grand Prix posted a AUD 49.2 million (USD 46 million) loss, local media reported on Thursday, placing further pressure on the state government to justify the burden on taxpayers.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGRC) said the global financial crisis had continued to have a "significant impact" on the loss-making race, local media quoted the organisers` annual report, which was tabled in Victoria state`s parliament.

The report noted that despite cost-cutting, expenses had increased due to inflated costs of staging the race.

The loss follows a A$40 million shortfall from the race last year which the AGRC also blamed on the global financial crisis.

The AGRC was not available for comment.

Despite declining interest and accumulated losses of more than A$200 million in staging the race at Albert Park, the state government has committed to holding it until 2015.

The government has justified using taxpayer funds to pick up the tab for the loss-making race by saying its flow-on economic benefit outstrips the losses.

"The economic value of this event to Melbourne is in the order of AUD 62 million," a state broadcaster quoted Major Events minister Tim Holding as saying on its website.

The auditor-general, a government watchdog, exposed the rosy economic picture as a fallacy in 2007, however, when it reported that the race`s losses outstripped measurable economic gain.

The race posted a AUD 34 million loss in that year and has racked up AUD 40 million-plus losses for the past three races.

"Three years ago, the auditor-general found it does not produce the economic benefits the government has claimed and he found no tourism benefit for Victoria," Peter Logan from Save Albert Park, a group that has campaigned to have the race moved away from the picturesque public park, told reporters.

"This cost of $49 million is just a huge cost on all Victorian taxpayers."

Bureau Report