State Government promise of $200 million Jubilee Stadium upgrade raises questions on aquatic centre

Taking the plunge: Georges River Council is ready to provide support for State Government plans for Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Taking the plunge: Georges River Council is ready to provide support for State Government plans for Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Georges River councillors were lining up on the starting blocks this week with questions on whether the State Government's promise of $200 million for a future upgrade of Netstrata Jubilee Stadium would include an aquatic centre.

It was supposed to be a straightforward thank you from the council to the State Government on its promise in the State Budget for an injection of funds towards planning for the $200 million transformation of the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium Precinct.

But some councillors objected to the call for council to immediately form a project team to provide in-kind assistance to the NSW Government in the planning and implementation of the project.

Both suggestions were part of a Mayoral Minute tabled by mayor Kevin Greene at last night's council meeting.

But while Councillor Con Hindi was happy for council to support the first part of the Mayoral Minute to thank the State Government, he wanted to delete the second part calling for the council to provide a project team to support the preliminary stages of the project as it was against the Council's Code of Meeting Practice to vote on a Mayoral Minute without knowing how much it was going to cost the council.

Mayor Kevin Greene said that at this stage it was costing the ratepayers nothing.

Councillor Vince Badalati wanted to know if the State Government has confirmed if it will spend $200m illion.

Cr Greene confirmed that there is $3million in the current budget - $1 million to prepare a business case and $2 million for planning to proceed, with the $200 million to be in a future budget.

Councillor Badalati asked, "Why would the State Government commit $200 million when Cronulla (Sharks) said they will not shift, Sydney FC has a stadium being built in the city and St George (Dragons) has said they will only play half-a-dozen games at Jubilee and half down at Wollongong.

"So why would the State Government spend all that money for just half-a-dozen St George games?" he said.

Cr Greene said that Jubilee provided the multiplicity of recreational opportunities.

Councillor Nick Katris asked if there was anything in writing indicating that the council is getting $200 million or that it is getting an aquatic centre at Jubilee Stadium.

Cr Greene said that the exciting aspect was that the project was ready to go.

"We should be excited that there is an opportunity for $200 million to be invested for this upgrading of infrastructure," he said.

"We have to make sure that this $200 million is invested and that it is actioned as quickly as possible. Your residents, your ratepayers deserve to have these facilities in their community as quickly as possible."

But Cr Kathryn Landsberry was hoping to get a clarification.

"You said there was a project ready to go?" she said

"Is that from a Georges River Council perspective or from the (Sports) Minister's perspective? As far as I know we don't have a Master Plan for Jubilee."

Cr Greene said that Georges River Council did have a Master Plan that was lacking funding,as discussed some two years ago.

Cr Con Hindi asked, "Has the government indicated to us that they want to build an aquatic centre worth $50 million?"

Cr Greene replied,, "They have committed to upgrading including various component parts of the infrastructure, yes."

"The (Sports) Minister has not gone into totally specific detail. What he has said is the Government's vision is about improving precincts that are utilised by all sports codes, grass roots and professional, as well as entertainment, etcetera," he said.

Cr Hindi said the council welcomes $200 million for a new stadium including badminton, tennis and a hydrotherapy pool for the players.

"But this is not for the community that wants an aquatic centre," he said.

"We thank the state government but in the meantime we owe it to our residents to continue with what we promised them - a third aquatic centre, and this is not the place that it is going to happen. The Acting Sports Minister did not mention an aquatic centre."

Cr Greene said it was important that the council really moves forward on this. "Our actions say we wish to be very closely involved in this because these facilities are provided by State Government money but most importantly they are facilities for our residents," he said. "We want to ensure that things like an aquatic facility are part of this process."

But Cr Landsberry said the site was not big enough to include an aquatic centre..

"It's a very finite piece of land. I don't see the advantage of having subterranean swimming pools," she said.

"We need to thank the government but I don't think it (an aquatic centre on the site) will happen. We need to keep our focus on providing an aquatic facility for our community and not be distracted by shiny new things that the State Government announced at budget time, coincidentally, one could say, when the state seat of Kogarah has become very marginal.

"I don't think we should be falling over ourselves until we see the Plan of Management (for Jubilee Stadium), which I've never seen," she said.

Cr Katris asked what guarantee was there that the council would get the $200 million.

"We should not be giving up our resources to Jubilee Park when in fact we have other things in the pipeline," he said.

"I think we should devote our resources more to the strategic analysis we are doing now at Todd Park and Carss Park."

Cr Greene said both issues are not mutually exclusive.

He added that by deleting the requirement for the council to form a project team to provide in-kind sport to the State Government would be gagging the community and showing strong disrespect to the Sports Minister.

Cr Hindi added that the issue was diverting the council's attention from a third aquatic centre.

"Let them build this stadium but this could be done in parallel with what the community wants to do with a third aquatic centre," he said.

But Cr Hindi's amendment was lost and the council voted to support the original motion - to thank the State Government on its promise in the Budget for an injection of funds towards planning for the $200 million transformation of the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium Precinct and for council to immediately form a project team to provide in-kind assistance to the NSW Government in the planning and implementation of the project.

The vote was 7:7 with the mayor using his casting vote to carry it.

WANT MORE LOCAL NEWS?

SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER