The kerfuffle over the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s threat to shut down the Melbourne GP has thrown into relief the attitude of Formula One bosses to the law: there is no law.

Max Moseley’s extraordinary outburst after the Minardi team secured an interim Supreme Court injuction on Friday to allow it to practise – not necessarily compete – for the event, has been taken at face value by the media as you can see from this Herald Sunstory:

Ban bombshell crashes party

By Ian Haberfield, Kelvin Healey and Byron Young

“Melbourne could lose its Formula 1 Grand Prix and Australia might be banned from holding other world motor racing events, motor sport’s international governing body warned yesterday”

The Age was just as dramatic – The day Melbourne almost lost its race

The FIA’s statement is commendable in its audacity: “If Australian laws and procedures do indeed allow a judge to act in this way, it will be for the World Motor Sport Council to decide if a (FIA-sanctioned) world championship motor sport event of any kind can ever again be held in Australia.”

Even Big Red Ronnie Walker was taken aback: “There are huge implications for a country operating under the Westminster system,” the Fairfax director and latter-day pillar of the establishment told The Age.

Followers of the Melbourne GP saga would be familiar with the attitude of motor racing powerbrokers like Mosely and Bernie Ecclestone. It’s just taken the antics of F1 tryhard Paul Stoddard to leech out their modus operandi: we are above the law.

It’s handy now to have it out in the open and on the public record. And what is the limp-wristed response of the local authorities? “A spokeswoman for Premier Steve Bracks said everyone had legal rights, including Minardi.” Quite.

Meanwhile this morning, Channel 10 was giving the issue a wide berth as it ramped up its GP coverage, focusing on the racing, and puff pieces profiling GP PR hacks.

While over at Walker’s Age, coverage was taking on a rosy hue, with liftout GP posters and happy blogs on “my day at the track”.

The Age and Ron Walker

By Noel Turnbull

The Crikey man often gets agitated about Ron Walker, his directorship of Fairfax, and the problems this presents for The Age in reporting on his other interests.

Miscellany’s view is that there is no real problem at all and that, if there was, Age reporters have resolved it by just quoting the great man and letting his words say it all for them.

This weekend they did it twice. First, in response to some issue regarding eligibility of some car, Ron talked about how GP rules were a problem for the “Westminster system”. The Westminster system is not in the best of shape – particularly in Australia partly because of the party Mr Walker used to raise funds for – but it is probably robust enough to survive a few GP controversies. Second, in response to news that someone had leaked details of the Commonwealth Games opening parade The Age quoted Ron as thinking this was “tragic” and “disgusting”.

Now if the leaking of information about a Commonwealth Games parade is “tragic” and “disgusting” what words are left for tsunamis, Armenian massacres and terrorist acts?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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