Victorian cabinet endorses Martin Pakula to be new Grand Prix chair

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Former sports minister Martin Pakula is set to be named chair of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, the latest Labor minister to be appointed to a government board since leaving politics.

Pakula was tipped as the frontrunner for the position after the exit of former chair Paul Little, and the Victorian cabinet on Monday endorsed him for the role.

Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott (left) and Martin Pakula earlier this month after he secured the future of F1 at Albert Park until 2035.Credit: Getty Images

The government has not yet responded to questions from The Age, but senior government sources who spoke anonymously in order to detail cabinet discussions confirmed Pakula had been approved for the role, and it would be announced soon.

The position of chair is an unpaid role. Pakula has been contacted for comment.

Before leaving politics at last year’s state election, Pakula oversaw the major events and sports portfolios, which included oversight over the Australian Grand Prix.

He helped secure a deal that meant the event would remain at Albert Park until 2035.

James Merlino has been made chair of the Suburban Rail Loop Authority. Credit: Justin McManus

It comes as multiple former senior ministers in the Andrews government have been elevated to paid board positions, prompting accusations from the opposition of a “job for mates” culture.

Former deputy premier James Merlino, who left parliament at the same time as Pakula, was earlier this year appointed chair of the Suburban Rail Loop Authority.

Former health and arts minister Martin Foley is now chair of Alfred Health and the Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation, and former police minister Lisa Neville is the chair of Barwon Health.

Opposition sports spokesman Sam Groth said appointments to public positions such as the Grand Prix chair needed to be made through a transparent process.

“Labor must also confirm if any changes to remuneration arrangements for the board of the Grand Prix Corporation will occur as a result of this appointment.”

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