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Leisure and the Federal election

Leisure and the Federal election
June 5, 2016

With the 2016 Federal election campaign being both longer, and more sober, than its 2013 forbear, commitments relating to leisure have been more considered in the lead in to the 2nd July poll.

The outrageous ‘pork-barrelling’ (the utilisation of Government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and/or win votes) of both the Coalition and Labor in 2013, has not (yet) been repeated this year and in news items posted today we have looked at the various commitments by the major parties.

So far in leisure, Labor and The Greens have focused on the arts and the Great Barrier Reef while the Coalition has stressed how its economic management has boosted tourism.

With the exception of Labor’s funding commitments for a new stadium and convention centre in Townsville and a few announcements of funding for smaller recreation and sport projects, the Australian electorate has yet to be treated to the unedifying sight of politicians wrapping themselves in supporters scarves of teams and even sporting codes with which they have never previously been associated.

However, with politicians often see connecting to sport as a way of connecting to the voters in this sport loving country, the final weeks of the campaign may see this change.

And prior to the election being announced, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was out and about professing his love and admiration for rugby league, football and AFL.

Speaking when opening the Panthers Rugby League Academy in April, Prime Minister Turnbull stated "sport is a metaphor for life ... it creates the values and the ethos upon which communities thrive: hard work, perseverance, teamwork, innovation, agility."

Turnbull later described rugby league as "an inspiration to generations of young Australians ... it provides a shared identity, it is a great community game, a great grassroots game".

Leading up to the election, Prime Minister Turnbull also took time to open the latest stage of the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence and travelled to China to announce that the Port Adelaide AFL club would play a game in the world’s most populous nation in 2017.

Here he stated "I think as we all know, and I say this as a former mediocre rugby player, AFL is the most exciting football code”, calling AFL "our national football game".

Writing in the Huffington Post, Josh Butler commented “but both sides of the political spectrum are looking to the sporting world to help them connect with the common voter, and we'll be seeing more of it in the coming weeks and months as we build toward a federal election.

“With a number of swing seats around the country in working-class areas, the leaders will be working until the final whistle to claw those voters to their side, and connecting through sport may be the key.”

Saving the Great Barrier Reef
Both the Coalition and Labor, as well as The Greens, have also made election promises to preserve the Great Barrier Reef which few would disagree is under massive threat from climate change, mining and farming practices and invasive species such as the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish.

In the Federal budget, the Government promised an additional $171 million over six years for the Great Barrier Reef through its Reef 2050 Plan and the Reef Trust.

The Greens have released a seven-point plan to ‘revitalise’ the Great Barrier Reef, including a $1 billion fund to help coal workers exit the industry.

Labor would reprioritise five years' worth of that funding, which is $123 million, to help make up its total $500 million fund.

Labor has also said it is committed to the long-term strategy developed in response to recommendations from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and to targets to reduce nitrogen run-off by 80% and sediment run-off by 50% by 2025.

The Federal Government said since it was elected in 2013, it had provided a total of $460 million in funding for the reef through a variety of programs.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has cast the current Government as being a saviour of the Reef, stating “real work, recognised by the World Heritage Committee, as Australia being the global role model - whereas only a couple of years ago they were looking at declaring under Labor and the Greens, the reef in danger.”

The World Heritage Committee decided against listing the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger" last year, but said it would be monitoring the situation over the next four years.

Commenting on The Greens program, Senator Larissa Waters stated “scientists are saying that global warming is the biggest threat to the reef and that 93% of the reef has just experienced bleaching.

Images: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shows his love of sport when opening stage two of the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence earlier this year (top) and the Great Barrier Reef: under threat.

Editor's note: Australasian Leisure Management will not be reporting every promise or announcement made by Australia's political parties in the lead up to the Federal election

5th June 2016 - LIBERALS EMPHASISE HOW PRO-GROWTH POLICIES HAVE BACKED TOURISM GROWTH: ELECTION FOCUS

5th June 2016 - LABOR PLEDGES MASSIVE FUNDING FOR TOURISM AND THE GREAT BARRIER REEF: ELECTION FOCUS

5th June 2016 - GREENS PROMISE $270.2 MILLION FOR THE ARTS: ELECTION FOCUS

4th June 2016 - LABOR PLEDGES TO SCRAP CATALYST ‘SLUSH FUND’

29th May 2016 - AUSTRALIAN REFERENCES REMOVED FROM UN CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT OVER ‘TOURISM CONCERNS’

3rd May 2016 - GOVERNMENT’S CATALYST ARTS FUND MAKES ALLOCATIONS ON EVE OF FEDERAL BUDGET

15th April 2016 - PORT ADELAIDE AND THE AFL SIGN MOU TO PLAY 2017 PREMIERSHIP MATCH IN CHINA

4th April 2016 - PENRITH PANTHERS OPEN $22 MILLION RUGBY LEAGUE ACADEMY

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author


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