Sporting Club Funding

March 20, 2013


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:04): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that local sporting clubs bring significant social and health benefits to communities;

2. Notes with concern the reports of the South Australian government’s proposal to reduce funding for local sporting clubs by $3.5 million through cuts to the Community Recreation and Sports Facilities Program; and

3. Calls on the Premier to reverse the government’s decision by guaranteeing the funding in this year’s budget.

I rise today to draw the council’s attention to the recent developments regarding our local sporting clubs and to pay tribute to the role that sport plays—not only the social and health benefits that it brings to our state and our communities but also the financial benefits—and, of course, to condemn the recent cuts of funding to local sporting clubs which are due to take effect in the coming budget rounds. I move this motion to urge this government to get its priorities straight.

I have a theme today, and I think the Greens do have a theme, that this Jay Weatherill government is not getting its priorities straight. It is putting the cart before the horse and it is no good having a cart if you do not have a horse. That might be small contracts not being given to local newsagents, as we saw in the rally held today on the Parliament House steps, where local jobs are being lost to multinationals because the government has awarded, erroneously, contracts elsewhere. For many years, quite successfully, schools have worked with local business to fill their stationery needs.

In this case, we are seeing projects such as the Adelaide Oval redevelopment and, indeed, the $40 million footbridge steam ahead while small cuts which have profound impact on local sport are being made. We are also seeing this, of course, in health where many—what are termed—non-hospital base services or preventive health measures are, in fact, facing the potential Weatherill razor gang.

Sport, in fact, makes a massive contribution to the Australian economy. In fact, it is approximately 2 per cent of Australia’s GDP and that is larger than the motor vehicle industry. It employs over 220,000 people and it generates $358 million in annual exports and almost $1 billion in taxation revenue in recent years. That is according to the Australian Sports Commission work done in this area. For every 10 per cent of our population that is exercising regularly and moderately, there is a net benefit of about $800 million that is returned to our economy each year in the reduced health costs. This is even when allowing for the annual costs of injuries that result from the physical activity.

Research in WA, in fact, confirms that the benefits derived from sport and recreation are not only well understood by the community (clearly not by this government) but the benefits are regarded as extremely important to both the community and to individuals. The WA research shows that at least 80 per cent or more of the population agree—and in some cases 99 per cent of the population—that those benefits come from increased participation in sport and recreation. The obvious ones are improving physical wellbeing, but there are also others such as teaching fair play and respect, building confidence and self-esteem, developing self-discipline and commitment, and teaching life skills such as respect and tolerance for others. Certainly sport has a great role to play in building respect and tolerance, not only with different ethnicities but also across gender as well.

Sport can provide a great sense of achievement, both individual and community. It builds communication skills; it develops leadership skills; it enhances people’s ability to deal with stress; it improves resilience and the ability to learn; and it also provides social opportunities—the opportunity to meet other people, to create friendships, to feel part of a community, to build stronger relationships, to build community pride, to reduce antisocial behaviour in our community, and to make the community safer. It is also recognised as creating life opportunities such as travel, business contacts and career opportunities.

The question is, why would you look to make what in the overall scheme of things are minor cuts but will certainly be significant cuts of some $3.5 million to community sport and recreation programs? As I alluded to before, it is because this government has put the cart before the horse and that cart, of course, is embodied in the Adelaide Oval redevelopment. Members will not be strangers to the controversy surrounding that development in terms of the costs associated with it.

It is no surprise to anyone that South Australians are questioning what is going on with this Weatherill government’s priorities. When they hear the rhetoric of 17 cranes on our skyline, they know that rhetoric comes with a cost attached of not $450 million and not a penny more, as per the Foley promise given by the treasurer, now twice removed (obviously not literally, but in political terms), but $535 million. Of course they know it comes now with a $40 million footbridge, and the costs continue to pile up.

When we first were promised the Adelaide Oval redevelopment, it should not be forgotten that that was associated not only with a potential successful bid for that venue to host a World Cup event, and the monies potentially that could come from that, but also with supposed funds from the federal government. We have seen the analysis just this week alone that in fact almost all of what ended up being a fraction of the original moneys provided by the federal government, some $30 million, dwindled away after all was said and done.

Again the AFL has contributed far more in other states to oval redevelopments or developments than we got in South Australia. It was because of the Rann-Foley mission to have monuments to their government that they have invested so much in such a high ticket item. Andrew Demetriou said that costs associated with oval building, and indeed with the Adelaide Oval redevelopment in 2010, are at the beginning ambit claims and things can be pared down. We of course did not pare down the Adelaide Oval redevelopment and in fact, instead of the $450 million and not a penny more, we saw those costs escalate and the associated costs with things such as footbridges and no doubt other costs to come continue to be piled up on top of it.

When you realise that this government is cash strapped—and I certainly do not shy away from that—you must question why they proceed with such projects, where they know that the bottom line will have to be decisions such as this one, where they cut the grassroots. No more obvious cut at the grassroots was this Sunday’s distribution of 6,000 pieces of turf, which were given away for free by minister Koutsantonis (or Couchantonis, as Matt and Dave dubbed him for that weekend), quite proudly boasting that this was a sign that the people of South Australia supported the Adelaide Oval redevelopment.

I think it was a sign that people in this state do love the Adelaide Oval, and in this council, while we may disagree on many things, there is a support for what is the icon of the Adelaide Oval. Whether or not we think it should be developed or redeveloped, or for what purposes it should be used, there is certainly a recognition of the role of that particular institution in our history and in our day-to-day culture. Yet of course those pieces of grass were being given away on that Sunday morning as the Sunday Mail headline blazed the announcement of these cuts. The irony was not lost on me. For a start, we were giving away those bits of turf for free, and I am sure every person, in those hundreds of people who lined up from, I believe, 1.30am (but most of whom came after 8.00am), well out past Montefiore Hill, would have been happy to have paid $10 towards grassroots sport in exchange for their piece of grassroots.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Indeed—they would have been happy to pay for their piece of turf to support grassroots sport. However, the Weatherill government either did not think of that in their brilliant marketing strategy which they put together, to give away those pieces of turf which I am not sure were couch, but I will stand corrected if I have the type of grass wrong.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Franks has the call.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I am being encouraged not to let the truth get in the way of a good pun. However, I will persevere and attempt both to make puns and to speak the truth. It could have been a great opportunity but it was not lost on me that that was happening at the same time that we were looking at these cuts, and those cuts are being made because we have blown the budgets.

We have chosen the big monuments in this state and, when I say ‘we’, I mean the government of the day. Certainly many of us here on the non-government benches have been vocally opposed, but this state, previously led by Rann and Foley and now Weatherill, has chosen to pursue this path that has left us putting the cart before the horse. My warning today is: if there is no horse, there will be no need for the cart.

We know that, without grassroots sport, we will never have elite sport, and we will never have the fans if we never have the participation, and we also know that it is all very well and good having sports fans, but we can actually watch it on TV and we can actually import our athletes but we cannot grow our own unless we actually invest in those grassroots activities.

Again, I have to draw attention to the words of Ms Jan Sutherland who observed that, in fact, the revenue from major sporting events such as the Tour Down Under should also be injected back into grassroots sport and as we know, we still do not know exactly how much money Lance Armstrong received for his participation in the Tour Down Under, but if only a fraction of that could be going back into grassroots sport, we would be seeing the dividends into our future.

The benefits of sport are immense. The benefits are shared by our community and by South Australia. If we get the cart before the horse and if we only focus on the big-ticket items, we will not all be sharing in those benefits and in fact we will be mourning the loss not only of the great community that sport builds, but of course we will be seeing the physical impacts as well. With that, I commend this motion to council.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. K.J. Maher.

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