Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser sends the world champion pairing of Julien Ingrassia and Sebastian Ogier on their way at a Rally Australia ceremonial start held in Coffs Harbour’s city centre.
Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser sends the world champion pairing of Julien Ingrassia and Sebastian Ogier on their way at a Rally Australia ceremonial start held in Coffs Harbour’s city centre. Rob Wright

Coffs Coast’s political leaders show support for Rally

IF THE Coffs Coast's state and federal members had their way, supporting the upcoming Kennards Hire Rally Australia would need very little discussion as they see it as one of the most important economic drivers the region has.

Both the Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker have urged Coffs Harbour City Council to continue its support the Coffs Coast leg of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Mr Fraser in particular was scathing in his assessment of the council voting against approving the sponsorship arrangements for the event at last week's meeting.

"I believe it is extremely short sighted of these councillors who obviously have no idea of the huge economic benefit this international world class event brings to the Coffs Coast region," Mr Fraser said.

"Last year, this event attracted a crowd of over 54,000 people and a global television audience of 60.93 million viewers. No other single event in this region goes even close to attracting this number of visitors to the area and I am absolutely astounded at the naivety of these councillors."

Do you think Coffs Harbour City Council gets value for money from its sponsorship of Rally Australia?

This poll ended on 20 April 2016.

Current Results

Yes, absolutely.

71%

I'd like to see the Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour but I don't think Council should sponsor it.

11%

No, I think Council's money could be better spent.

15%

I'm undecided.

1%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said he hoped a planned rescission motion at the next council meeting on April 28 would be successful.

"Last year more than 54,000 motor sport enthusiasts visited the Coffs Coast for the rally, which pumps money into the economy is so many ways," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"We can expect the same massive influx of the visitors to the Coffs Coast when it returns again in November."

> > > Rally sponsorship to go back on Council's agenda

Coffs Harbour councillors John Arkan, Sally Townley, Nan Cowling and Mark Sultana have voted against approving the council's current World Rally sponsorship arrangements while Mayor Denise Knight and Cr Keith Rhoades voted for the motion.

Part of the motion that was defeated at last week's council meeting was for the council to delegate authority to execute the sponsorship and hire agreements for the next two years to general manager Steve McGrath.

Mr McGrath sits on the Rally Australia board in an unpaid capacity. The draft minutes of the meeting show this was an interest he declared prior to the beginning of the meeting.

Mr Fraser said Mr McGrath's position on the board shouldn't be an issue seeing as it was council that voted in favour of a motion to put Mr McGrath in that position.

A motion that was seconded by Cr Arkan.

"In 2010, Coffs Harbour City Council moved a resolution that the general manager accept the invitation to sit on the board of Rally Australia, representing Coffs Harbour City Council. This resolution remains in place today," Mr Fraser said.

"If, as suggested, by Cr Townley, there is some problem with the general manager of Coffs Harbour City Council being on the board of Rally Australia, this is an issue that can be dealt with separately and does not need to jeopardise the future of this event for the Coffs Coast."

> > > Chamber president calls for councillors' resignations

Mr Fraser added how having a round of the World Rally Championship in our own backyard promoted the region internationally.

"The Australian round of the WRC is a prestigious world championship sporting event that showcases the Coffs Coast to the world and brings to this area the world's best rally drivers," he said.

"We are extremely fortunate that Rally Australia has seen fit to run the event in this region."

The president of the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce, George Cecato, said the chamber fully supported the Rally and believed decisions made by the councillors had the potential to harm the future of the Coffs Harbour business community.

A stance Mr Hartsuyker agrees with.

"I support Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce in their push to have the Coffs Harbour City Council retain its financial support by continuing its sponsorship of this important sporting and tourism event," Mr Hartsuyker said.



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