Repco Rally clears road block
Repco Rally clears road block

Race will go on as planned

IT'S all go for Repco Rally Australia.

Organisers of the world championship car rally event to be held in the Tweed and Kyogle Shires next week, incorporating a revived Festival of Speed on Tweed in Murwillumbah, were yesterday given the green light by the Federal Court of Australia.

Justice Margaret Stone threw out an application by Tweed Shire Greens Party councillor Katie Milne for an injunction to block the rally, ruling she had failed to make a case.

Rally officials were delighted.

So were local business people who expect the event to bring thousands of tourists and millions of dollars in sales and accommodation bookings to the Tweed.

Ms Milne, however, appeared to be in hiding from the media, after declaring on Wednesday: “Sorry, no time for further interviews”.

Her lawyer Al Oshlack also restricted calls to his mobile phone.

In a statement last night rally organisers said: “Justice Stone dismissed the application because Ms Milne's case was without merit”.

Chairman of Rally Australia's organising committee Garry Connelly said he was not surprised by the result.

“We have always complied with all laws and have spent a lot of time and effort to achieve the highest environmental standards,” Mr Connelly said.

President of the No Rally Group Michael McNamara said his group was disappointed but “still resolved”.

“We will continue to fight the rally and demonstrate our views that this awful event was imposed on the community without our asking,” Mr McNamara said.

He said many questions about the economic and environmental costs still needed to be answered.

Murwillumbah and District Business Chamber president Toni Zuschke welcomed the decision saying she understood rally organisers had until next Wednesday to seek legal costs against Cr Milne.

She revealed earlier that shopkeepers, hoteliers and other business owners in Murwillumbah had been considering a “class action” against Cr Milne if she succeeded in blocking the rally.

They had been alarmed any injunction would not only block the rally events but also scuttle plans next week for a revival of the town's annual “Speed on Tweed” historic car racing festival.

“Speed on Tweed is half-owned by Rally Australia and half by Rotary Murwillumbah,” said Ms Zuschke.

“They (Repco Rally Australia) are the ones underwriting the whole event.

“We elected Katie Milne as a councillor to represent all of us. I'm furious.

“Businesses have been talking about lodging a class action against her for loss of income.”

Ms Zuschke said business chamber yesterday completed collection of a survey “for and against” the rally placed in “random shops throughout the town”.

She said 72 per cent of respondents were “for” the rally and 28per cent “against”.

In an email issued early this week Ms Milne said she wanted to “warn people to not rely on this injunction ... and to still be ready take up their right to protest against this military style, enforced, 'extreme sports' event”.

Yesterday rebel Tweed environmentalist Jim Warburton who has sided with the rally organisers saying their environmental safeguards set new standards predicted a court win for the rally because, he said, all the “'i's” had been dotted and the “t's” crossed.

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