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NSW stadium bombshell bursts on eve of state election

March 22, 2019 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

The Sydney stadiums controversy, which began largely as a sport-and-tourism-related issue, has blown out to become one of the main crunch points in tomorrow’s NSW election – with a dramatic new development ramping up the pressure.

In a surprise disclosure, the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday revealed that the Allianz Stadium could have been refurbished for a tiny fraction of what the NSW government plans to spend knocking it down and rebuilding it.

The paper cited a secret report drawn up for the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust in May 2016, which it said shows that the Allianz Stadium in Moore Park could have been upgraded to meet all safety standards for as little as AUD 18 million. That’s less than 3% of the sum the current NSW government has earmarked for knocking it down and replacing it.

The NSW Government of Premier Gladys Berejiklian has estimated that it would cost AUD 714 million to make sure the venue meets safety standards.

Rather than upgrading it, the government decided to rebuild the Moore Park stadium for AUD 729 million.

This morning, the Herald reported the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust had said AUD 18 million would not go close to making Allianz safe, and the chair of the trust, Tony Shepherd, said it was “misleading” to suggest that the figure would be sufficient.

The stadiums issue embodies a major point of distinction between the governing NSW Liberal Party under Premier Berejiklian and the Labor opposition headed by Michael Daley. Daley has pledged to forget about massive stadium spending – and instead spend the money on schools and hospitals.

Even at the 11th hour, bulldozers were shown yesterday ripping up the stadium, an act Labor described as exemplifying “a government dripping with arrogance”.

The Berejiklian government originally planned to knock down both the ANZ and Allianz stadiums, each comparatively new, and rebuild them a cost of about AUD 2.3 billion.

After widespread protests at the incredible sum proposed, the government later amended its plan to demolish the ANZ Stadium (built in western Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games). A refurbishment is planned instead.

In eastern Sydney meanwhile, major demolition at the Allianz Stadium was suspended for a while by a temporary injunction, until the court declined to extend that, opening the way for the wrecking ball.

Sydney Football Ground (Allianz Stadium) in Moore Park

An online petition against the demolition drew nearly 220,000 signatures. According to ABC News, one poll found that 82% of people are opposed to the NSW government’s stadium plans.

The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) threw its early support behind Berejiklian’s proposal.

“We know that great venues attract great events, not just for tourists travelling for a once-off occasion, but also for locals heading along each week to cheer on their favourite footy team,” TTF chief executive Margie Osmond said.

“A suite of new world-class stadiums – Western Sydney, the SFS [Allianz] and an upgraded ANZ Stadium – will bring new events to Sydney, as well as getting more people along to existing events.”

Daley said yesterday that the secret report “exposes once and for all their [the government’s] entire case for the stadium splurge to be nothing more than a sham”.

“Instead they wanted a gold-plated stadium. What a disgrace,” he said.

NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres, whose portfolio covers the stadium, said Infrastructure NSW found that a complete rebuild of Allianz was better value for taxpayers than a refurbishment.

Many other issues are also at stake in tomorrow’s NSW election. It’s not all about stadiums! Pundits say the electoral outcome could be very close, with a drift among voters to minor parties and the possibility of a hung parliament or minority government.

The voters will decide.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    An odd article to print the day before the election, considering it really has nothing to do with travel and tourism. Definite Labor bias to the story.

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