In Parliament - Tuesday, 8 March 2016
Mr DULUK (Davenport) (17:03:37): I rise today to express my concern about sports funding in my electorate. Recently I was disappointed to hear that the Mitcham council, which shares much of the same constituency as I do, has put on hold their planned upgrade to the Hewett Reserve clubrooms. The reason that the very much needed upgrade has been delayed is not that council has no money—indeed, it has pledged $400,000 for the upgrade—it is because the state government has not come to the party and, once again, it has let the people of Davenport down by refusing to match council's contribution to bring these clubrooms into the 21st century.
The Hewett Reserve clubrooms are home to three great longstanding local sports clubs: the Blackwood Tennis Club, which has celebrated over 100 years; the Coromandel Cricket Club; and the state league Woods Panthers Netball Club. All these clubs have hundreds of members between them and share small and outdated clubrooms.First, I would like to highlight how unacceptable not only the sharing arrangement is at present but also how a netball club of the standard of Woods Panthers is left to share unsuitable and degraded facilities. As many would know, Woods Panthers Netball Club is a state league club that trains girls to play the great sport of netball in the Mitcham Hills area. Girls as young as eight and nine are members of this club and train at the Hewett Reserve courts which double as tennis courts. The club does a fantastic job at keeping the girls of the Mitcham Hills active, fit and healthy and participating in sport from the sub-primary level right through to senior levels.
Not only does Woods Panthers train many hundreds of girls and young women to play their sport competitively but they are also a state league club, one of only eight state league netball clubs in South Australia. State league netball clubs are the equivalent to the SANFL in the football world. I cannot imagine any SANFL club having the facilities that the Woods Panthers Netball Club has to tolerate.
In terms of the netball club, of course all the high level netball is played at Priceline Stadium, and indeed these teams have their own grounds, but I do remind the house and it is important to know that netball is one of the most active participant sports in this state and indeed in this nation, and that our state league netball is only one step away from the national level, and those who play state league play at the national level. The Thunderbirds team is chosen from our state league clubs; so, why are clubs such as the Woods Panthers still operating out of substandard facilities? It is a very good question.
Hewett Reserve is centrally located within the electorate of Davenport and should be a popular sporting venue, but it is underutilised because of its current condition. The Sturt Lions Soccer Club, another growing club in my electorate with hundreds of junior members, is another excellent example of a growing club that could potentially relocate to Hewett Reserve if the proposed council upgrade is undertaken. However, it would all be a bit too cosy at the moment for them to shift, for the soccer players to share the Hewett oval clubrooms with the netballers, tennis players and the cricket club.
Really, if we want to see a growth in sport and junior participation, the state government really needs to get behind this upgrade and fund local sport in Davenport. I note that much of the funding is provided for sporting groups across metropolitan Adelaide. In 2012-13 the Community Recreation and Sport Facilities Program allocated funding to 46 projects, including a $2 million grant for softball and baseball facilities at Adelaide Shores.
Again, in the 2014-15 funding allocation round the West Adelaide Hellas and the Port Adelaide Lions both received $500,000 grants for their clubs. I do congratulate those clubs for the excellent work they do and continue to do to provide services and sporting services, and no doubt they are worthy recipients. My grief is not with the clubs. My grief is with the government that seems time and again to provide sports funding to areas that are in Labor-held seats, and, of course, we see this across the board and we see this in infrastructure funding as well.
I do remind the government that it should govern for all, not just for those facilities, those members and those clubs that are in Labor electorates. Once again, Davenport has missed out on funding of a very worthy venture. Mitcham Council is asking only for a co-contribution from the state government to meet half the costs that are required, costs that will see an increase in junior sport participation, an increase in women sports participation (and today, of course, we celebrate International Women's Day), an increase in tennis participation and an increase in cricket participation, all extremely worthy sports and all extremely worthy of pursuits.
This government and especially the Minister for Recreation and Sport often tell us that they believe in funding grassroots organisations. They espouse the benefits of funding grassroot organisations. They talk about the flow-on effects of attracting young players and sponsorship opportunities for spectators and the broader community. I would love to see the government match this rhetoric when it comes to sports funding by providing funding to the Hewett Reserve upgrade. I would like to see it upgraded for the benefit of the community so it can continue to be a longstanding and wonderful sporting hub in my electorate.