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Leisure benefits from Federal election funding commitments

Leisure benefits from Federal election funding commitments
August 11, 2013

The first week of Australia's Federal election campaign has seen the Federal Labor party make a number of funding commitments for leisure infrastructure, particularly in NSW.

Beyond pre election commitments in western Sydney of $20 million for the upgrade of Parramatta Stadium and $4 million for Belmore Oval, Federal Sport Minister Don Farrell this week committed $10 million for upgrade of Brookvale Oval (in Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott's Warringah constituency) and $16 million for a new training base for the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Maroubras Heffron Park.

The latter announcement will see the NRL club relocate from its historic home at Redfern Oval, redeveloped at a cost of $19.5 million just five years ago while the Belmore and Brookvale Oval announcements are at odds with the NSW Government's 2012 Stadium Strategy - which looked to end financial support for upgrades at many of Sydney's suburban grounds.

In NSW, the week also saw Federal Minister for Regional Development Sharon Bird announce a $7.4 commitment for new home for football for the Illawarra.

Today, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has moved the funding focus to Tasmania, with the announcement of $375,000 in funding for Launceston's Prospect Park and $5 million for the Hobart Showgrounds.

As the election campaign continues, other funding pledges in other states can be expected while industry rumours abound that an announcement on the funding of a major stadium in Western Sydney may be forthcoming during the campaign.

Industry insiders suggest that plans for a stadium at Bankstown International Sportspark, drawn up for Australia's unsuccessful 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium bid, could be re-addressed to give Western Sydney the international standard stadium that it currently lacks.

Much of the funding has been sourced from the Regional Development Australia Fund, although the source of other funds is less clear their apparently having been allocated, but not previously announced, in the most recent Federal Budget.

To date, and unlike in other recent elections, the Federal Opposition has largely not responded with counter funding proposals with the exception of Tony Abbott's reiterating an earlier Coalition commitment (made in March) to assist surf life saving clubs in purchasing much-needed equipment and in extending the Beach Drowning Black Spot Reduction Program.

The Opposition leader today (Sunday 11th August) upped the commitment from the $10 million announced in March to $15 million.

Overall, Coalition sentiment was expressed by NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay who this week questioned unexpected infrastructure funding announcement by Federal Labor, stating "it's plain to see Labor has been hanging onto this funding for the election campaign, showing it's pedigree in politicising infrastructure projects."

Image: While upgrading Brookvale Oval does not figure in the NSW Government's Stadium Strategy, the Federal Election has seen both sides of politics commit funds to the venue's redevelopment.

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