DRAG racing enthusiasts frustrated with long delays in finding a permanent competition base have been given a glimmer of hope following discussions between three key community leaders at a footy match.
State cabinet minister and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine spoke on the issue with Moyne Shire Council mayor Jim Doukas and Warrnambool City Council chief executive Bruce Anson at Bushfield Recreation Reserve a fortnight ago.
He offered to assist with getting necessary government approvals, but suggested the road would be smoother if one of the councils became manager for the preferred site on Crown land at Koroit’s former racecourse site.
“I think there’s a great opportunity for our region if the Warrnambool and District Drag Racing Association can find a permanent base,” he said.
“I’ve seen what it has done in Portland. It can add value to the local community.
“The best way to proceed would be to get one municipality to take this project on board.
“It’s much easier for the government and departments to be dealing with a council than an association.”
Cr Doukas said yesterday he would put the suggestion to the next council meeting to break the stalemate.
“My personal opinion is that our council should be committee of management for the site,” he said.
“The land is in Moyne Shire so it makes sense for us to do the management.”
A fortnight ago the association had almost given up hope of getting a green light after years of fruitless discussions with both councils about finding a permanent base rather than the temporary arrangement of using part of the Warrnambool airport runway.
The association was recently told traditional native title holders would need to give permission.
Dr Napthine told The Standard yesterday that approval from native title holders could be better negotiated if there was municipal management of the site.
Warrnambool City Council candidate Brian Kelson pressed Mr Anson for an answer at Monday night’s council meeting.
He asked him to apply pressure.
“We’ve been trying to get Moyne to make a decision,” Mr Anson said.