Finnish rally driver Mikko Hirvonen competing in last year's Repco Rally Australia near Kyogle.
Finnish rally driver Mikko Hirvonen competing in last year's Repco Rally Australia near Kyogle.

Rally delivered 'bang for buck'

FORMER Repco Rally Australia chief architect Garry Connolly believes an independent report into the 2009 event will show the NSW Government got “bang for their buck”.

Mr Connolly said he believes the report, which is due to be tabled in Parliament this month, holds no fears for Rally Australia despite the event being divisive in the Kyogle and Tweed communities.

“My understanding is the economic spend (direct money spent in the community) will come in at $15 or $20 million and the economic impact between $20 to $30 million,” the former chairman of the organising committee said.

“I can't tell you what the NSW Government put in because there is a confidentiality agreement but I can absolutely assure you they got enormous bang for their buck.

“If every event in Australia that was supported by government could deliver the same multiple of economic impact or even the same multiple of economic spend then government would be very happy to put that sort of money into events.

“What I can say is the money put into 2009 was nowhere near the amount of money that was put into West Australia (that previously hosted Rally Australia).”

The report, which is being prepared by Mike Cahill, the managing director of Integrated Marketing Communications, is expected to form the basis of a decision by the NSW Government whether Rally Australia will continue to be held in the Northern Rivers area.

Speculation a further report could be undertaken by the NSW Auditor-General also hold no fears for Mr Connolly.

“I would welcome the Auditor-General because, as someone who was involved in the rally, I can't see what the issue would be,” he said.

“CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsports) accounts are audited independently anyway and CAMS owns Rally Australia.”

Mr Connolly, who has stepped down from his role with Rally Australia to pursue an honorary stewards role with the World Motorsport Council and Formula One, also reiterated the promises kept by Rally organisers which included:

There would be an economic benefit to the area;

There would be extensive international media coverage of the area;

Rally organisers would develop community involvement;

Rally organisers would consult with the community before, during and after the event;

Rally organisers would run a rally that had insignificant impact on the environment;

Rally organisers would respect the rights of the original landowners;

Rally organisers would run a rally that would not have a negative influence on the driving habits of young drivers in the area;

Locals would be encouraged to become involved in the rally as officials.

“Now we delivered on every one of those promises,” Mr Connolly said.

Australia had the sec- ond-highest viewed event in the World Rally Championships last year.

“There was a viewing audience of 53 million people.

“In relation to community involvement I can't count the amount of meetings we had. We had five public meetings but we had far more small meetings with people involved.

“Our officials and staff visited every property along the route of the competitive stages of the rally and we know from people that were home, and the vast majority were, that 87 per cent of people we interviewed supported the rally going past their home and that was sight unseen.

“Our environmental record is already known ... we had an insignificant impact on the environment. Rally Australia did also purchase carbon offsets, money was paid.”

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