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Government ‘committed’ to F1 in Melbourne

The state government on Wednesday said it continues to support the Australian grand prix.

The Melbourne race beyond its 2014 contract has recently been the subject of speculation, with the city’s Lord Mayor and the new Victorian premier publicly questioning the value of the annual event for taxpayers.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone responded to the story by telling a German newspaper this week that “we (F1) don’t need Australia”.

“The government has supported the grand prix because it is a significant international event which provides branding and tourism value for Victoria,” state tourism minister Louise Asher said at the launch of the 2011 event on Wednesday.

She also played down reports that new premier Ted Baillieu does not support the race inherited by his government.

“In terms of the Baillieu government, we are committed to the grand prix,” insisted Asher.

And she said there are talks taking place with the organising Australian Grand Prix Corporation about how to reduce costs.