This may seem a strange time to be discussing policy issues, given the ACT election doesn’t take place until 17 October next year, but with policies and platforms usually decided well in advance, it is perhaps timely to gather together a number of sports-related issues that hold some political interest.
Will the proposed indoor stadium at Civic become a factor in the election given the ACT Liberal Party has indicated a preference for the Civic location while the current government hasn’t ruled out EPIC?
Another issue to be considered is the future of facilities such as Canberra Stadium, the AIS Arena and the AIS Swimming pool, with the ACT waiting for a decision from the Commonwealth Government.
Then there is the proposed ice sports facility, with the government calling for expressions of interest in developing a new rink. The Labor Party has had a long-term policy of building the facility but has stated the ACT Government will not own or be the primary funding source but will consider providing a financial contribution to help with the establishment.
It will be interesting to see if the Liberals take a different approach to building and operating a community facility.
In terms of funding models for sporting teams, will the Liberals look at changing the current model whereby sports are provided with funding on a scale depending on a range of factors including national league participation? Some sports have called for more government financial support to stage events in Canberra with the requirement that a portion of the funds be used for tourism promotion.
In general, facilities in Canberra are relatively good, but many are ageing and need to be replaced. In recent years we have seen a number of initiatives such as new headquarters for cricket and AFL at Philip; the building of a new swimming pool at Stromlo, as well as development of sporting facilities in that precinct; the Woden Track and Field complex; the redevelopment of the home of the Canberra Cavalry Baseball team; and the allocation of substantial funding for the new soccer facility at Forde.
So where are the holes in the facility map in Canberra?
I suggest now is the time to let political parties know if there exists a need within a specific sports community.
A couple of issues sure to be raised at the grassroots level will be the cost of ground hire and the cost of lighting at many community grounds. If subsidised, does the government need to find funds from elsewhere, and how will the upkeep of the grounds be maintained?
Does the government need to do more to decrease the cost of registration in junior sport if the cost is viewed as a hurdle to participation? Is enough being done to support basketball in the ACT through the provision of appropriate facilities?
There are plenty of issues swirling about in Canberra sport. This is a forum for you to provide input as our political parties decide on their policies in the lead up to the election.