Public Works Committee: Port Pirie Regional Sports Precinct | MOTION


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 11:12 :52 ): I rise as a neighbouring MP to add my support to this project. We certainly know in Port Augusta, which I represent, the enormous value that the development of our new sporting complex has had. Following on from the comments of the member for Finniss, there are certainly enormous benefits in combining football and netball in winter. That happens in most of country South Australia.

While the clubs in Port Augusta are not combined, the netball league did decide to move from its traditional home on Railway Parade and join with the traditional home of football, being Central Oval in Port Augusta. That may still happen one day in Port Pirie and, if that were to happen, it would be a good thing, but that is for local people to decide.

There is often a lot of discussion about investment in these sorts of facilities and how broad a community benefit there is. I have a strong view that there is a very broad community benefit. The argument against it is often, ‘What would people who do not participate in sport get out of it?’ My view is that these are facilities that are not only for sport. These are facilities that can be used for a very wide range of community events, including trade fairs and conventions.

In fact, the very first public event that was held at the newly developed Central Oval facilities in Port Augusta was an ageing expo. That event was well attended and very positive and really had nothing to do with sport. The other thing, of course, is that it does not matter whether a person is male or female, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, a tremendous sportsperson or just somebody who just does it for a bit of fun and recreation, a very young person or quite a senior person because anybody can benefit from the sporting facilities.

They can benefit by being spectators. They can benefit because, maybe if they are not doing it, their husband or wife, son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter might well be benefiting from these new facilities. For me, it is not only about sport. These are very important community assets and I am very pleased for the Port Pirie Regional Council and for all the people in the broader Port Pirie district that this project will go ahead.

I am also pleased that it continues to cement the broader Upper Spencer Gulf as a tremendous place to participate locally or for people to come from other parts of the state to participate in sporting and other events. For example, Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf holds a mining and resources forum in Upper Spencer Gulf every year, which is very strongly attended by people from even farther afield than South Australia. So, these facilities can be used for that sort of thing.

I would like to finish by saying that the money invested in these facilities needs to be very carefully thought through. The Port Augusta City Council decided to invest. I was very closely involved in enabling Port Augusta City Council to get support from the state government back in around 2009 and the federal government chipped in money. There was $5 million from each of those two governments, but the Port Augusta City Council has contributed significantly more than either the state or the federal government.

I know that the Port Pirie Regional Council will have done its sums very carefully and will pursue this in a very responsible fashion. As I have said a couple of times, I strongly support Port Pirie having this facility for its benefit, the benefit of the broader community and Upper Spencer Gulf in general. However, it is important to say that these projects can and should only proceed when they can be afforded and without placing an unfair burden on ratepayers. Even ratepayers who will actively participate and directly benefit from the project must not have an unfair burden placed on them through council expenditure.

I say again that I have no doubt that the Port Pirie Regional Council will have done its sums appropriately. I know that the Port Augusta council is under a great deal of financial pressure. The newly developed Central Oval project has contributed to that but is not actually the reason. Let me finish by saying that I am very supportive of this proposal going ahead in Port Pirie, as I was in Port Augusta. However, please let no-one ever forget that the benefits of a project like this must be very carefully compared to the costs that go with it. Of course, all councils must incur these costs in a way that means that they do not force unfair rate increases upon their ratepayers.