31 July 2023

Probing the polls: Public service integrity and a return for V8 Supercars?

| Genevieve Jacobs
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race cars on track

Could Canberra host V8 racing again after a 20-year absence? Photo: Falcadore, Wikipedia.

It’s been a tough few months for the upper echelons of the public service as the royal commission and parliamentary inquiries have tried to establish who was responsible for Robodebt, whether Morrison government ministers were accepting kickbacks from lobbyists and who was taking responsibility for some notably poor decision making.

It’s looked bad for the APS in particular as former Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell was first stood down and then resigned from a plum job with AUKUS, while others remain under a cloud in the royal commission’s ‘sealed section’.

This week we asked: Has the public service lost its integrity? 628 readers voted.

Your options were: No, a few bad apples don’t spoil an honourable bunch. That received 31 per cent of the total, or 195 votes. Alternatively, you could choose Yes, bring back frank and fearless, this is a disaster. This was the clear winner with 69 per cent of the total, or 433 votes.

READ ALSO Canberra firm’s head ‘severed all ties to Australia’, won’t testify on procurement allegations

This week we’re wondering whether you think V8 Supercars should return to the ACT.

A local consortium has made a lengthy proposal for returning the race to Canberra for the first time in over 20 years. Abandoned after just two years on grounds of costs, the original Canberra 400 racetrack ran around the Parliamentary Triangle, but an auditor general’s report found the economic benefits had been substantially overstated and the winter timing was less than ideal for fans.

The most recent proposal included a new multi-purpose building at EPIC to house pit facilities and for the internal roads to be widened and resealed. Proponents said it covered”everything”, including environmental issues.

“This is a substantial offering for the ACT community and businesses, and we felt the plan was very robust and the numbers did stack up very well. Even the green policy we had was substantial,” groups spokesman Russell Avis said.

READ ALSO Plan to bring V8 Supercars back to Canberra ‘didn’t stack up’, Barr says

Supercars events take place in every state of Australia and the Northern Territory.

But ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr told a budget estimates hearing that a formal proposal for Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) to host a leg of the V8 Supercar championship “didn’t stack up”.

Mr Barr said the ACT would have needed to spend “tens of millions of dollars” to make it work and that the proposal was unviable.

In recent years, Summernats has substantially changed its presence in Canberra, cleaning up the less savoury elements of the program for family viewing and focusing on the pride car owners take in their carefully restored vehicles.

The event brings around $30 million in revenue to the ACT annually, after working hard to recover a social licence that was challenged by crowd and participant behaviour.

This week we’re wondering whether you think the V8 Supercars are a natural fit for the national capital, or not worthy of our time and trouble.

Do you feel safe in Canberra?

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