11 May 2024

Federal Budget: $250 million upgrade for AIS a 'game changer'

| Ian Bushnell
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ASC CEO Kieren Perkins

ASC CEO Kieren Perkins says the announcement is a significant day for Australian sport. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The ACT Government has welcomed a $250 million upgrade for the 40-year-old Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), as well as $10 million for planning a wider Bruce precinct where it wants to build a new stadium, housing and other facilities.

The funding, to be formally announced in Tuesday’s Federal Budget (14 May), follows an independent review into the ageing AIS infrastructure and the decision to retain the site as Australia’s top training and development facility for the nation’s elite athletes in the lead-up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

The $249.7 million package will deliver an accessible 192-bed multi-storey accommodation facility, a multi-sports dome to provide an all-weather, multi-sport indoor training facility with integrated facilities for testing and analysis, and a new High-Performance Training and Testing Centre.

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Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins said the funding was a game changer for athletes ahead of the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

“The AIS has been the home of sport in Australia for over 42 years and continues to be critical to the success of the athletes and sports we love,” Mr Perkins said.

“Today’s announcement is a significant day for Australian sport, ensuring our athletes have access to the best testing and training facilities possible.”

The ASC would now finalise its plans with a detailed business case for the government.

The $10 million will enable the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts to work with the ACT Government to develop a Bruce Precinct Masterplan to ensure the site is welcoming and fit for purpose for visitors, athletes and their families alike.

The announcement did not mention the ACT’s ambitions for the precinct, but the planning funding indicates the Commonwealth’s support.

The ACT Government said the money for precinct planning for the greater AIS site would ensure the Institute and its facilities were at the heart of a modern sports, health and education precinct in Bruce for decades to come.

Future cemented: Mr Perkins with Chief Minister Andrew Barr and ACT Sport and Recreation Minister Yvette Berry at the signing last year of a memorandum of understanding for developing the Bruce precinct. Photo: ACT Government.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the funding gave a clear indication of the AIS precinct’s future.

“It offers a collaborative pathway forward to plan and develop a new mixed-use precinct for Canberra,” he said.

“The ACT Government looks forward to working with the Federal Government to revitalise the precinct with facilities like the renewed AIS arena, a new Canberra stadium, additional housing, hotels and serviced apartments, community and medical facilities, restaurants, cafes and bars.

“Today’s announcement aligns well with the ACT Government’s Entertainment, Arts & Sports Infrastructure Plan and we look forward to working in partnership with the Albanese Government to restore a national sporting asset and to work together to plan for the precinct’s future.”

ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee also welcomed the $250 million commitment but said the $10 million for development of the Bruce ‘precinct’ was paltry.

“Andrew Barr has a horrendous record when it comes to building infrastructure in the ACT and this so-called Bruce ‘precinct’ looks like it will be no different,” Ms Lee said.

Both the ACT Government and Opposition fought for the AIS to stay in Canberra rather than a mooted $1 billion move to Queensland.

But Ms Lee opposes a new stadium in Bruce, saying that a central location in the city would maximise such a facility’s economic and social benefits.

The Federal Government said the Budget commitments reflected the recommendations of the AIS infrastructure review and would help ensure Australia’s high-performance athletes had access to world-class facilities that best support the nation’s sporting success.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government wanted to give athletes the best chance of bringing home gold at Brisbane and every competition before and after those games.

He said the announcement underlined the government’s commitment to the national capital.

“The upcoming Budget will ensure the Australian Institute of Sport remains in the Capital, where it belongs, and ensure it once again becomes the world-leading high-performance centre it was designed to be,” Mr Albanese said.

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Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher said the AIS had fallen into disrepair in recent years, but the funding would allow it to again be the community hub it had once been.

Federal Sport Minister Anika Wells said the AIS was once a world benchmark for sporting success and the funding would help reach those standards again.

“For 2032 Games success, the need for sport investment is now. As we know, it takes up to eight years to prepare an athlete for the highest level of competition,” she said.

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Unnecessary. This is all to “get gold” at the next Olympics. Whoopy doo.

This Labor government’s $250m commitment to the AIS is wonderful! Not to mention plans for the expansion of the UC health precinct, North Canberra Hospital development and the potential to upgrade the Bruce precinct for light rail, a new CIT campus and a multi-sports stadium!

I love Bruce!!

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