History & Impact
WHAT IS THE COST?
toxic waste removal cost
CoN must resurface racetrack every year
CoN must rehabilitate race precinct every year
Motor racing events through residential streets are notorious for hiding their costs. Supercars has a history of hiding the costs of the event to taxpayers and ratepayers and grossly exaggerating the benefits.
From 2000 – 2003, Canberra spent $16 million on the Supercars event. However, this didn’t include the hosting fee (estimate another $1.5 million) plus the considerable costs of promoting the event, nor some of the operating costs because these were too well hidden. No costs were disclosed by the government agency responsible for bringing the Event to Canberra. Like Newcastle council, the ACT department only produced an economic impact statement. Costs that were eventually recovered were only obtained through the agency’s auditing process.
Hamilton in NZ ended up costing ratepayers about $40million over 5 years, of which at least $3 million was in unauthorized expenditure. However, once again the auditor revealed it was difficult to get all the costs because responsibilities between various agencies were unclear. Like Newcastle, there was confusion created to inhibit auditing. Because of the ratepayers’ outcry over the costs that were known, Hamilton council managed to get rid of Supercars after 5 years.
When the Auditor-General reviewed the Supercars event after the first year of the Homebush event, he noted that this event was not a good investment of taxpayer funds. Post-event analysis indicated that costs were more than planned and that economic impacts less than estimated, resulting in a budget blow out. The original grant to fund the event was $30 million, which blew out to $45 million. Instead of getting rid of the event however, the NSW government ignored the recommendations of the A-G and extended their option to continue for another 5 years. They finally got rid of them after 3 years, but only by giving them more funds to build a circuit in Newcastle. The amount given for the Newcastle event by NSW government remains unknown.
The costs to Newcastle ratepayers for the Supercars event have never been released, although hosting fees were reported in the Newcastle Herald as ‘about’ 2 million for 5 years. However, NERG chased freedom of information through NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to reveal 2 pages of operating costs to be paid for by ratepayers including the upkeep of roads and the rehabilitation of the city’s parklands. In February 2019 NERG got some idea of just how extensive these operating costs will be. Zaara and Scott Streets had to be dug back up and another layer of bitumen rolled. Parnell Place had more track work to repair and the surface improved. Wharf Rd and Horseshoe Rd, including the hairpin bend, also had to be extensively repaired.
200 trees had to be chain sawed by council under the direction of Supercars and council was responsible for replanting an ‘urban forest’. The Foreshore park seating had to be removed and replaced each year, new pathways constructed and the overall park re-designed. Entries into and out of the pit facilities had to be paid for in Wharf Road, and part of James Fletcher Park was removed to widen the entrance into Bathers Way.
Other roadwork done by council was said to be ‘works brought forward’. This in fact, is an additional cost because the renewal of roads and services before their due date, cuts short their use-by-dates.
Council spent an outlandish amount of money promoting this event. Glossy brochures were produced continuously, to give the event a positive spin in response to criticism. A dedicated Supercars site on Council’s website had to be updated and maintained. Council staff were seconded to provide consultation with residents and to sit on various committees. Council staff members were assigned to field enquiries and complaints about Supercars and to provide answers to hundreds of emails related to the race. Other services paid for by ratepayers included: traffic planning and parking, removal and replacement of all road markings, street signs and traffic signage and extensive storage for Supercars equipment and the services required by these facilities.
Council also held a VIP/charity function at Fort Scratchley on the Saturday of each event. It is now known that the 2017 and 2018 VIP functions cost ratepayers $94,000.
Additionally there was a $3.7 million tip fee for contaminated waste. Low levels of coal tar and asbestos made it unsuitable to recycle. It is unclear how council came to be responsible for this cost under the deed agreement.
This article was published in the SUBSCRIBER-only section of the Newcastle Herald on 31st August 2019. It questions the CoN race review and demonstrates how the numbers were inflated.read more
1. The Newcastle Herald revealed last year that there was a significant discrepancy in the attendance figures provided by Supercars for the 2017 event and those obtained from the Telstra data that was used for the evaluation by the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) on...read more
Prior to the first event in November 2017, Newcastle council passed a unanimous motion to: Engage an independent, expert third party to undertake an evaluation and event impact assessment to assess the social, economic and environmental benefits and costs associated...read more
While suburban road projects stagnate and stall, the new roads constructed for the race must be resurfaced repeatedly at rate-payers’ expense. CoN has had to rebuild some sections of the track three times since the first race in November 2017.read more
“A tree replacement program for the Newcastle Foreshore precinct aims to create a greener, more usable and more accessible public space for everyone to enjoy.” Well, just how is this greener and more useable public space coming along?read more