12 May 2022

Labor puts more money on the table to reopen AIS Arena

| Ian Bushnell
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Spurred on by the crowd, the UC Caps won against the Adelaide Lightning in 2018/19 grad final. Photo: Jennifer Andrew

Glory days: The UC Capitals take on the Adelaide Lightning in 2019 at the AIS Arena. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Labor has upped the election ante on the mothballed AIS Arena. The $15 million upgrade pledge, about $4m more than the Morrison Government, would reopen the facility for sporting and concert events.

Labor says an Albanese Government will partner with the ACT Government to deliver the ‘full investment’ needed to get the facility up to scratch and ready to reopen.

The project will not only improve fire safety, but upgrade seating, lighting, toilets and other facilities, and refurbish amenity across the precinct.

Liberal Senator Zed Seselja and federal Sport Minister Richard Colbeck announced early in the campaign a fully funded and already budgeted $11.4 million to begin work in the coming months to upgrade lighting, fire safety systems, lifts, mechanical services and electrical systems.

Bur Labor says that won’t be enough to do the facility justice.

READ ALSO Tent replacement for AIS Arena off the table as Barr reignites push for Commonwealth action

Senator Katy Gallagher calls the plan half-baked, saying the Liberals have neglected the arena since they’ve been in office and have only made the commitment to reopen it because they’re feeling the election pressure.

“I’m proud to be able to commit Labor to do the job properly and ensure this facility is the go-to indoor event space for several years to come,” Ms Gallagher says.

Member for Canberra Alicia Payne says the Liberals should have stepped up years ago to ensure the arena’s future.

“The AIS Arena is an asset to the nation, and the national capital,” Ms Payne says.

READ ALSO New AIS initiative sparks an important conversation around female health

“Labor understands the arena is not just a sporting venue, it’s a community hub for people right across the region.”

Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development spokesperson Catherine King says the Liberal commitment is a fig leaf.

“They have not committed enough money to get this facility up to scratch and they know it,” she says.

“Only an Albanese Labor Government will partner with the ACT Government to deliver the investments the community needs and to reopen AIS Arena.”

An ACT Government spokesperson said it would contribute expertise, ideas and planning advice to the project.

“As we have maintained throughout the saga of the closure of the AIS Arena – it is a Commonwealth asset and the Commonwealth should pay for the rectification of the venue,” the spokesperson said.

“A financial commitment from the ACT Government is not required in the Federal Labor commitment.”

The Commonwealth-owned facility has served as Canberra’s premier indoor sporting and concert venue for 40 years but was closed in June 2020 due to several fire and event safety issues.


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I think it’s a bit rich of Gallagher to allege the Libs only planned to reopen the AIS because they’re feeling the election pressure when it took a commitment from the Libs before the ALP came up with their money.

So the bottom line here is there is no story. Both will fund it.

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