I rise to support the Supply Bill and to briefly raise a few issues related to my work in the shadow portfolio of sport. I want to take this opportunity to focus on an issue which is gaining some traction in the media, which has been an issue for local sporting clubs for some time, that is, the continued lack of funding from the state government for grassroots sport.
The next state budget must address the calls from grassroots sport and recreation organisations for further funding for new improved facilities.
Labor has turned its back on grassroots sport.
Following the news that federal Labor has refused to fund local sporting facility redevelopments, it is now time for the Rann government to undertake a full and comprehensive audit of sporting facilities in South Australia. Sir, I am sure you must think I am a broken record constantly calling for this audit, but I will not cease until it actually happens.
During the last state election campaign, the Rann government promised to join the Rudd government in funding the exciting upgrade of the Campbelltown Leisure Centre. This redevelopment would finally give the Norwood Basketball Club a home base and the entire local community would benefit from new facilities. Now that the federal government has pulled its funding pledge, it will be interesting to see whether state government funds are still on the table for this and other projects. The Port Augusta Central Oval redevelopment is another project which will be incredibly important for the local community but has also been knocked back by the federal government.
The Rann government promised funding for this facility upgrade during the last state election campaign to match the state Liberals’ $5 million pledge. The member for Stuart in the other place consistently pressed the Liberal parliamentary team to back this very worthwhile proposal when we were doing the sums during the last election campaign. Due to his hard work and fighting on behalf of his electorate, as well as the strong merits of the proposal, we supported this redevelopment along with supporting a number of other sporting projects and organisations in our community.
We have so many sporting and recreational facilities requiring work here in South Australia. Too many are being ignored by government, and that is the message I am constantly getting from people involved in local community sport. I quote Sport SA Chief Executive Jan Sutherland, who recently said in an interview with The Advertiser in May of this year:
“Adelaide Oval gets bigger and bigger, but just getting $85 million would be great for other sports. We cannot even get our funding indexed to CPI across the sports. We want a state facility fund to develop sporting hubs. There is an enormous lack of fields across every sport. We probably could not hold a multi-sport event in Adelaide and they do not seem to care. I am not anti the River precinct, but not at the expense of everything else.”
As I have stated before, a full and comprehensive sporting facilities audit must be conducted as a matter of urgency, to help identify the most urgent projects and funding allocations in the community. During the last state election campaign, the opposition committed to a comprehensive facilities audit as well as doubling the Active Club Grants program run by the Office of Recreation and Sport. We made financial commitments to assist netball, fund a number of local sporting projects and to lobby the federal government to increase funding for grassroots sport, just as the LGA had called for in its election submission to the parties.
Labor, on the other hand, seems focused only on its plans for Adelaide Oval and continues to neglect grassroots sport. I am not even sure Labor had a policy for sport and recreation. People involved in grassroots sport should rightly be calling for further funding when we look at the Adelaide Oval situation. Last month, the opposition pointed out that the cost of the Adelaide Oval project has now blown out from $450 million to almost $700 million.
Of course, now we have just discovered that the blowout could well be even more than this, much more in fact. The Advertiser reported yesterday:
“The Adelaide Oval redevelopment ‘with all the extras’ would have cost more than $700 million…but the Stadium Management Authority, which is overseeing the project, has been forced to cut three major elements: a $40 million bridge over the Torrens, a $50 million carpark and a $40 million retractable roof over the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre to try to meet the government’s $535 million funding plan.
What I could go on to say is that I do not think that $700 million actually includes the $85 million for SACA’s debt, and that is something that we will certainly be exploring. That $700 million could well be $785 million.
The article went on to report:
“With the government capping its contribution, it now appears the original scope of the project will have to be scaled back further.”
The Advertiser also reported that:
“The SANFL had written to the AFL in November last year saying the redevelopment could not be done for the $450 million figure that was being put forward by the SA Cricket Association.”
These revelations really do damage this ailing project and, of course, the credibility and career of the Treasurer. All the while, local sporting clubs are battling along while the government is scrambling to get this project up and finding millions more to fund it after first capping the contribution at $450 million and, as the Hon. Mike Rann has said, ‘not a penny more’. Of course, we know how much we can believe what the Hon. Mike Rann says. This government cannot be trusted on its promises and is letting us all down.
With those comments, sir, I support the bill and I look forward to the budget being handed down in September but, as with every Labor budget, I am not expecting too much.