Surfers government won’t back race unless international

UPDATE Sports management guru Chris White will take over from Terry Mackenroth as the new chair of the SuperGP event.

Mr. White was yesterday named interim chair of the Government-owned Gold Coast Motor Events Corporation, which has a 50 per cent stake with IMG in the annual festival.

Mr. Mackenroth's $40,000 contract officially ended yesterday after the former deputy premier resigned during this year's A1GP debacle.

Mr. White is a former lawyer who worked for Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor's legal firm and founded International Quarterback, which represents athletes Michael Clarke, Grant Hacket and Mark Schwarzer, as well as Surfing Australia.

Mr. White also specializes in event management and is known for his ability to attract sponsorship deals, a talent which will be put to the test by the troubled SuperGP, which has struggled to attract and keep a naming rights sponsor.

In July, Mr. White was appointed to the board of the new-look Queensland Events Corporation after a four-year stint as a board member for Tourism Queensland.

His appointment came as the Government received an interim report from one of two reviews into this year's bungled A1GP race.

Management expert David Williams has been investigating the circumstances of the 2009 event — which saw the troubled A1GP organization pull out at the last minute — as well as looking for options for the future staging of the event.

His report was expected yesterday but Premier Anna Bligh said an interim report, which could not be made public, had been prepared.

Ms Bligh said the report may be made public but it contained commercial information such as which organizations the Government should approach for a future race.

One option unlikely to be considered is a 'Greenstock' festival, a green music event run alongside a clean energy games competition.

Ms Bligh said the Gold Coast was ideally suited for a car race.

"It's been very successful over a number of years and we will be working very hard to make sure that we have a great event there in the future," she said.

"It is very important when you talk about large scale events like this that you get good professional advice from people who have run them around the world.

"The Gold Coast is a very important tourist destination, not just for Queensland but for Australia and we want to make sure we are marketing all the events there as well as we can and that means ensuring there are major events and car racing I think has a long future there."

12/05/09 City councilors have refused to back the SuperGP unless an international component is in the weekend schedule.

A strategy was formulated behind closed doors yesterday afternoon before Mayor Ron Clarke sat down with SuperGP reviewer David Williams to discuss the council's position.

Cr Clarke told Mr. Williams city hall had major reservations about the future viability of the event if it remained a sole V8 Supercars race.

The Red Bull air race and international Formula 3 series were backed as alternatives by councilors to the A1GP which pulled out of last month's event at the 11th hour.

"A lot of the councilors think that there should be an international component," said Cr Clarke.

"We want a seat at the table.

"We would like to see a company operation and we would like to be a part of it."

Cr Clarke said he had raised the possibility of attracting the Red Bull air race.

"That is a world-class event and it would look visually stunning here on the Gold Coast," he said. "I think all of the options have to be considered. They can't rush into it."

Counselors were left red-faced after being kept in the dark by the Bligh Government.

Mr. Williams, who is being paid $2000 a day to oversee one of two SuperGP reviews, asked Cr Clarke a series of questions to gauge the feeling of counselors. Some of the ideas passed on to Mr. Williams included an alcohol precinct to segregate drinkers.

Construction of a Gold Coast rapid transit system was identified by counselors as a potential disruption to future events.

Surfers Paradise counselor Susie Douglas hit back at her political foes yesterday and declared herself one of SuperGP's biggest supporters.

"At no stage have I ever undermined the efforts of the organizers putting the SuperGP event together," said Cr Douglas.

"There was no secret plan or conspiracy."

The Gold Coast City Council financial contribution to the event exceeds $500,000.

Community and cultural development chairman Cr Bob La Castra said he was a fan of the race.

"It is an important event for the Gold Coast but I think it really does need an international race," said Cr La Castra.

Mr. Williams is reviewing the circumstances behind the bungled A1GP contract.

A second investigation into the financial processes is being led by state Auditor-General Glenn Poole.

Taxpayers were forced to pick up a $12 million bill to host an event without the much-vaunted international A1GP open-wheelers.

The A1GP series pulled out on the eve of the four-day SuperGP.

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