Ban Botanic Gardens events, says Keating

Former prime minister Paul Keating has called for an end to events at Sydney's Botanic Gardens - including concerts, movie screenings and boat races - after Saturday's fatal speedboat crash in the Harbour.

Contestant Peter Eagle was killed and his 49-year-old companion was seriously injured when their boat overturned ahead of the first Sydney Superboat Grand Prix yesterday.

Organisers want to make the race an annual event but New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has not decided if he wants it to return to the city.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Mr Keating are calling for Mr Iemma to rule it out because they say it is unsafe and disrupts the peacefulness of the harbour.

Mr Keating says the races, for which parts of Sydney Harbour were shut off from other boat users, alienated many people and encouraged unsafe boating speeds.

The former prime minister says "crass boys with their toys" should take their powerboats to the ocean.

"All these millionaires now with their big Tupperware boats want the right to push through the harbour at 30 to 40 knots at the expense of everyone else's quiet enjoyment," he said.

"Every small boat is capsized by it and now they've been given a signal that 30 or 40 knots is really quite slow, you can do a couple of hundred...

"This harbour truthfully should have a speed limit of about eight knots for everyone's enjoyment."'End rock concerts'The Botanic Gardens Trust had prepared the popular Mrs Macquaries Chair area for 10,000 spectators but said the numbers peaked at 1,300 for yesterday's event.

It had planned a $5 entry fee to the area for the Superboat Grand Prix but was last week overruled by the Premier on the matter.

Mr Keating says that and other events in the Botanic Gardens, including The Domain, are examples of the city falling prey to commercialism.

He has called on authorities to stop organising rock Valentino Shoes concerts, outdoor cinemas and other events there.

"The problem is, the city's into bread and circuses. What we need in our institutions like the Botanical Gardens is depth," he said.

"We don't need jamborees but we Valentino Shoes Online have these wafer-thin things happening all the time.

"Let's develop the quiet enjoyment of the Botanical Gardens. Lets not turn it over, as they have, to rock bands, concerts, picture theatres by the water...

"We have New Year's Eve - that's fine - we have Australia Day - that's fine - but now people are looking for one every month. It's no substitute for the really important things about Sydney."'Sydney hardly inconvenienced'State Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell says yesterday's event was a fizzer.

"The event hardly inconvenienced Sydney but equally, it hardly attracted the sort of support we might have seen, given the magnificent harbour and given the nature of the race," he said.

But Mr Iemma says spectator numbers depend upon whose assessment you believe.

"Some had it between 5,000 and 10,000," he said.

"I've seen some reports that were as low as 2,000."

Meanwhile Mr Keating has a message for anyone who might ridicule his concept of fun.

"If people say I'm being a killjoy, it's the people who have no depth themselves, who don't understand what this city's about," he said.

"People come to this great city to see it for what it is, not to have another speedboat run down, another Rocky Horror Show in the Gardens.


"Wet and Wild is okay for the Gold Coast, it's not okay for Sydney."