Decades of waving the rally flag
IN what could be his last private member's statement Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser has recounted his long history with the World Rally.
"I worked out that I have been officiating at rallies for 48 years, having officiated my first rally when I was 15 or 16 years of age. I was hooked from the day I saw my first rally," he told NSW Parliament on Tuesday.
"In those days Murray Finlay from Newcastle was driving a GTHO Falcon. These days cars like that, although great crowd-pleasers, will never win anything. Today's vehicles are worth from $500,000 to $1 million."
This year the rally was won by Mr Fraser's favourite driver, Jari-Matti Latvala from Finland.
"It is amazing how many Finnish drivers have won Formula One races and the World Rally Championship over the years. I believe it is the way they are trained from the time they are 10, 12 and 13-years-old."
With the Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres listening on, he spoke of the importance of the event to the community with hotels and caravan parks from Kempsey to Grafton booked out.
"This event returns in excess of $15 million to the Coffs Harbour economy. This year many international drivers brought their families with them. At the gala dinner they told me they were staying for another week to 10 days to enjoy the beauty of Coffs Harbour and the warm weather-in comparison to the start of a European winter."
He also paid tribute to the volunteers who made the event possible coming from all over NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand, and even some from Ireland.
Minister Ayres thanked Mr Fraser for his member's statement, noting his passion for the sport.
"I doubt anyone in this place is more passionate about or committed to motorsport in NSW than the member for Coffs Harbour. Private members' statements are about local achievements and activities, and there is no doubt that the World Rally Championship has put Coffs Harbour on the global map.
"As long as the event stays in that community, it will have a lot to do with the involvement of Andrew Fraser."
Mr Fraser, who has served as the Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour for 28-years, will step down at the March 2019 election.
"I want to make sure the rally keeps coming back to Coffs post my retirement and I wanted to put that on the record," he said after making the statement yesterday.