West’s councils cry foul on community sports cuts

Perth Glory v Adelaide Utd

The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has criticised the state government’s ‘Bigger Picture for Sport’ initiative, saying it includes an expensive new stadium for elite athletes while slashing funding for grassroots facilities and “dismissing the importance of local sports and facilities.”

The 60,000 seat Perth Stadium at Burswood was announced by the Barnett Government in 2011 with a $700 million budget and a scheduled completion date of 2018. There has been substantial speculation in sporting circles that it could end up being double this price, and not completed until 2020.

WALGA President Troy Pickard, Mayor of the City of Joondalup in Perth’s outer northern suburbs, is not happy. He says the decision to reduce funding for community sport by 65 per cent – from $20 million to $7 million in the 2016 -2017 financial year – is a backward step.

“It contradicts the Bigger Picture promotional banner,” says Mr Pickard.

“The Department of Sport and Recreation webpage, which confirms the cuts, also proclaims: ‘When We Play Sport, Our Whole Community Wins’. These are the facilities at the heart of local sports and recreation. They are where kids are active, play sports and learn important skills such as team work and leadership,” Mr Pickard says.

“These are the places that bring communities together and promote a healthy lifestyle. They are a central part of the West Australian lifestyle that we treasure.”

Mr Pickard says the planned cuts will sink funding to an unprecedented low level that is $3 million less than when the Barnett Liberal Government came to power in 2008, having campaigned strongly on an election platform that promised an increase to the Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund.

“A larger funding pool helps leverage many more millions of dollars in contributory community and local government funding, providing much needed community and sporting infrastructure throughout the state.

“For example, the City of Gosnells recently completed a $47 million recreation centre that was initiated and facilitated by a $4 million Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund grant. That is a fantastic return on investment for the state and shows the value of the fund. That is why cutting it back is far more damaging to the state than any savings gained.”

Mr Pickard says the community sport fund is significantly oversubscribed each year, “which demonstrates its value and there remains a backlog of projects that will only increase with the cuts.

“The new stadium at Burswood will undoubtedly be an icon for elite sport in Western Australia, but the State Government also needs to appreciate that it is at local community facilities where our champions get their start and they also need genuine support,” Mr Pickard says.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required