Liberal Senator Zed Seselja has confirmed a Coalition commitment of $15 million towards the upgrade of Vikings Park but has come under fire from his Independent Senate rival David Pocock for not listening to the community about Canberra’s infrastructure needs, including a city stadium and convention centre.
Before the March budget, Senator Seselja announced he was lobbying Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for funding to turn the 1000 seat facility in his Tuggeranong stronghold into a 10,000 seat suburban stadium with more capacity on hill areas so it could host teams such as the Brumbies.
But there was nothing in the Budget, with the commitment, like the $11 million to fix the AIS Arena, left for the election campaign.
The Canberra Vikings Club will co-fund the proposed upgrade, and Vikings Group CEO Anthony Hill said the teams who use Vikings Park deserve to have the best facilities.
“It is important to the Vikings Group that we are in the position to offer facilities that reflect the quality of sport we can showcase here in Tuggeranong,” Mr Hill said.
“With teams such as Vikings Rugby, Brumbies Super W, the Matildas and Canberra United using these facilities, it’s only right that the stadium and surrounding grounds receive the attention they deserve.
“The Vikings Group supports more than 50 local sporting clubs, and an upgrade to Viking Park will also enhance its role as the beating heart of sport in the Tuggeranong Valley.”
Senator Seselja said the proposed upgrade would establish it as a first-class suburban stadium, equipped for mid-sized local and national events.
He said it would also be a win for women’s sport, with plans including women’s change rooms and facilities.
“I’m looking forward to watching local footy matches played here, national matches, with the potential to see Super Rugby and A-League games here down the track too.”
But Mr Pocock said it was disappointing to see Senator Seselja had not taken on board community feedback about this proposal which he said fell well short of community expectations.
“This re-announcement from Senator Seselja hasn’t gotten much better with age,” Mr Pocock said.
“Senator Seselja failed to secure any actual funding for this project in the federal Budget.
“This is part of a track record of not delivering for the Canberra community despite being in government for almost a decade.
“The community could not have been clearer in their response to this idea when it was floated a month ago. They want to see something that goes a lot further.”
Mr Pocock has made infrastructure a key issue in the campaign, identifying the development of a new stadium in the city to replace the ageing Canberra Stadium in Bruce and a convention centre as priorities to boost economic activity in the ACT.
“In last month’s federal Budget we saw the ACT finish in last place for infrastructure investment once again with just 0.3% of the total national spend despite needing to make up for decades of neglect,” he said.
“The business community has been asking for a fit-for-purpose National Convention Centre for over a decade. We aren’t able to host major conferences in Canberra and we are missing out on an opportunity to grow our economy and host the best in the world here in the ACT.”
Mr Pocock said that in the nine years that Senator Seselja had been in government, Canberra had missed out on its fair share of infrastructure spending, “and now we’re seeing promises of a suburban rugby stadium upgrade if we re-elect him for a fourth term”.
“He hasn’t delivered and this re-announcement doesn’t offer anything like the long-term vision for our city we need,” he said.
“We need the type of infrastructure that will pump millions of dollars into our local economy, into the hands of local workers and businesses.
“The community expects, and deserves, much more from Senator Seselja and the Federal Government when it comes to investment in the ACT.”