Is the game rigged?

James Milligan MLA 23 September 2019 3

ACT Shadow Minister for Sports and Recreation says the Government’s lack of commitment to indoor sports facilities is frustrating. Photo is of James Milligan MLA playing cricket.

It can be hard to sit on the bench and watch a game unfold when you can clearly see the playing field just isn’t fair. Whether the referee is favouring one side or perhaps the players aren’t showing sportsmanship or integrity. We have all been there, watching on, hoping to influence the outcome.

As the ACT Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, this is how I feel watching Sports Minister Yvette Berry mismanage our local sports facilities. This is most evident in the Minister’s visionless handling of our indoor sports facilities.

For years the Canberra community has called for more indoor facilities. Let’s face it, with our extreme climate and the types of sporting activities we enjoy – it just makes sense.

Whether it’s traditional sports like basketball or netball, or more recreational pursuits like table tennis or dance classes – sporting Canberrans of all stripes are asking: where are our indoor facilities?

We know there are waitlists for most sports and access to existing facilities can be competitive and expensive. This makes participation for many Canberrans unaffordable or too difficult to balance with work, study and family responsibilities.

Perhaps naively we all thought that the long-waited ACT Government feasibility study into indoor sports would yield results. It was promised by Ms Berry in 2016 and released just this month.

Sadly the 14-page document delivers very little for local sport and recreation, instead recommending even more studies, reports and reviews. Interestingly it criticises the planning, funding and lack of strategic direction of the current Government – perhaps the reason why Ms Berry sat on the document for almost nine months.

The report did highlight the need to build more multipurpose facilities, especially for focus areas like Gungahlin, Woden and Belconnen. It makes the case for partnering with local schools, and maximising existing infrastructure to address the variety of needs within our diverse community.

What was the ACT Government’s response to the long-awaited feasibility study? Build a single-use venue in Throsby. Now I’m sure this facility will be a great asset for soccer and futsal players, but it fails to cater for the thousands of other Canberrans who actively participate in sport and recreation. You would think a multipurpose sports facility that more people can enjoy would be far more economically viable than a single-use venue.

The Government’s commitment to the single-use venue, against the advice of its own report, tells us a bit about how this government operates. It tells us that it doesn’t really matter how many people cry out for better facilities, or how many reviews and recommendations highlight gaps in existing facilities – the government is playing its own game, blind to the spectators on the sidelines. You can’t help but wonder if the game is rigged.

It is frustrating to sit on the sidelines and watch report after report be commissioned, and no real action or deliverables. Still, we have all felt like this on the sports field.

Sports Minister Yvette Berry’s inaction only strengthens my resolve to keep fighting for local sports and recreation to ensure that all Canberrans get the facilities they need and deserve.

James Milligan is the Shadow Minister for Sports and Recreation for the ACT.

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3 Responses to Is the game rigged?
k452 k452 12:58 pm 16 Jul 19

Ho Hum another whinge from the Liberals. At least Labor are having a go and have done a lot for sport in the ACT, especially women’s sport. If there was something in the article about what the Liberals are going to do for sport in the ACT if they are elected I would take notice. Last time the government debated women’s sport Mark Parton described the debate as a meaningless motherhood statement and a waste-of-time motion.

Hector Stevens Hector Stevens 6:44 pm 02 Jul 19

Canberrans are being ripped in all aspects of life. We pay double the price for everything and get half the quality as compared to other cities like Melbourne. If we complain, we get one answer – your wages are higher too! Under this pretext of slightly higher wage, Canberrans lose out in every aspect of life. Worst of all – no body speaks up and they just take the beating from the rulers.

g210 g210 4:08 pm 02 Jul 19

Maybe an effective & viable opposition would offer us all a glimmer of hope for a change in government. If only…

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