Mayor sitting on rally fence

Joan van Lieshout
Joan van Lieshout

TWEED Mayor Joan van Lieshout says she is keeping an open mind on whether the world championship car rally planned in September should get Council planning approval, even though it probably would give a short-term boost to small business.

“It's a very sensitive issue. I haven't made my mind up either way,” said Cr van Lieshout, who last week met with environmentalists from the Murwil- lumbah-based Caldera Environment Centre opposed to the rally. She is also under pressure from the business community to give it the green light.

Organisers of the Repco Australia Rally, to be held on bush roads in the Tweed and Kyogle shires from September 3 to 6, are still to lodge development applications with both shire councils.

Last week they began releasing specialist reports which are to be used in seeking council development approval.

Cr van Lieshout said she was yet to study the reports and take part in workshop sessions discussing details.

But she added she was aware the rally might provide “the stimulus package we need for small business in the shire.... if it does put us on the map”.

“I do believe it will have a benefit for a short time,” she said.

“All the reports say it will generate a huge amount of activity.”

Cr van Lieshout said tourism, which could be boosted by the rally, was possibly one of the best ways of supporting local small business in recovering from the current global recession.

“Murwillumbah particularly has to be encouraged in small business, and of course, that's part of tourism,” she said. “Tourism is a low-impact booster to small business.”

A report on the expected socio- economic impact of the rally released by the organisers last week predicted the Northern Rivers region could expect a direct economic injection of more than $31million from the event.

It found the money would come from the influx of visitors and from the cre- ation of permanent and short-term jobs as well as from international and domestic media coverage.

The report said up to 92,000 visitor nights were expected to be generated, with 75 per cent (69,000) within the Tweed-Kyogle region.

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