Online Petition Against NSW Stadium Plan Draws More Than 100,000 Signatures
An online petition opposing the NSW government's plan to demolish and rebuild ANZ and Allianz stadiums at a cost of A$2B ($1.52B) has attracted more than 100,000 signatures, according to Josh Dye of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The petition, which was posted on Change.org on Saturday, "has struck a chord with more than 50,000 signatures added by Sunday night." The petition said, "We, the undersigned, respectfully call on the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, and the NSW Cabinet, to reconsider their decision to knock down two perfectly fine sports stadiums. We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on building facilities for sports big business, while community sport withers on the vine for lack of facilities and resources" (SMH, 12/3). The petition had attracted more than 114,000 signatures by Tuesday morning local time (Change.org, 12/4).
ON THE DEFENSIVE: The AAP reported NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres said that the government's proposed investment "would bring money back into the state." Ayres said that NSW was "just about the worst-placed state" in the nation when it came to attracting events because it stopped building after the Sydney Olympics in '00. Ayres: "If we do not make these decisions, that have a 30-year return, all we're doing is taking important revenue out of our state -- and that revenue is what supports important investments that the NSW government makes in things like health and education" (AAP, 12/3).
BEREJIKLIAN RESPONDS: In London, Hill & McPhee reported the plan is "larger in scope and significantly more costly" than the A$1.6B vision put forward by former NSW Premier Mike Baird in '16 for the refurbishment of the arenas. Allianz Stadium "will be decked out with new bars and restaurants" with the colors of the respective home teams. Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said, "I really question the government's priorities -- they say they're for the west, but then prioritise sports investment in the east with a massive A$700 million ($531.6M) cost blowout. The public interest is being steamrolled by an all-powerful SCG Trust and an ambitious Sports Minister who wants to play with the big boys -- and a Premier who's lost control of her cabinet." Opposition leader Luke Foley acknowledged ANZ Stadium needs to be upgraded but "opposes the additional funding" for Allianz Stadium, which he branded a "white elephant." Foley: "I can't and won't support A$2.5 billion ($1.9B) on a couple of sporting stadiums when there are 100,000 school kids being taught in demountable classrooms." Berejiklian "hit back" at the "naysayers" of the allocation of funds, saying that "she would never approve" a plan that did not benefit the state. She said, "I'm not someone who takes a decision rashly, I'm not someone who doesn't deliberate on these decisions, and we have done that in a very collegiate way" (DAILY MAIL, 12/3).
'POLITICAL POISON': In Sydney, Brigid Glanville reported politically, the plan "is dividing the State Government with many backbenchers seething." Dozens of Lower and Upper House MPs "raised their concern about the decision, while their anger was palpable." They "did not hold back." Some said that they have "received dozens of emails from constituents," while others said that "only a few emails and phone calls have come in, but they expect that to grow." One member from a "safe Liberal seat" said, "It's a bit prickly fronting up to a school waiting in line for funding and looking at A$2 billion on stadiums." A number of senior MPs "raised their concern about the narrative this creates for the Opposition." One MP said, "Labor has a narrative they can use every day until the next election: 'You can't have that money for the school but you can have A$2 billion on stadiums.'" One Liberal said, "It's crap, there was no consultation with the party, at the end of the day we have to win an election, people want their schools and hospitals, not knocking down a 17-year-old stadium" (ABC NEWS, 12/3).