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Alex is committed to government transparency and accountability; protecting the natural and urban environments, open space and Sydney’s unique heritage; retaining inner city social and affordable housing; the humane treatment of animals; improving transport options; and fairness and equality for the LGBTI communities.
 

Sydney Stadiums

(Private Members' Statement, 5 June 2018, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

On behalf of both my constituents and people across the State, I call on the Government to withdraw its plans to rebuild Allianz Stadium at Moore Park.

Plans are progressing quickly, with the environmental impact statement expected to go on exhibition this month and the existing stadium potentially demolished before the next election. Allianz Stadium is only 30 years old and was designed by eminent Australian architect Philip Cox. It will cost the Government close to $1 billion to knock it down and to build a replacement a few metres away. The Government has not delivered a full business case for this plan. Its 11-page glossy summary is nothing more than a promotional pamphlet on the contribution of stadiums with some paragraphs on the problems with the existing facility. The pamphlet estimates the cost of a refurbishment at $714 million, but no detail is provided on how that figure was calculated, the alternatives considered, what works it involves, and how they were costed.

On 28 March I was given a tour of the stadium and shown its challenges. Improvements are needed, but the cost identified by the Government is in excess of $100 million more than the $600 million identified by former Premier Baird. Why will the Government not release a detailed business case that lists and costs all options considered so that the public can independently assess the final figure and the decision to rebuild? The answer is probably that the only option considered was a gold-plated refurbishment. The expected cost of the demolish‑and‑rebuild option has already blown out by nearly $200 million since the plans were first announced. After claims of billion-dollar financial returns were proven wrong, the Government changed its sales pitch to focus on the matches and events the new facility would attract. However, most of these are already held at the stadium or will move from other State venues anyway.

Meanwhile, the Government has cut funds to essential services and flogged off public assets. We have long social housing and elective surgery waiting lists, our public transport system is stretched, and schools are at capacity. Sports NSW reports a gaping hole in grassroots community sport investment and facilities. The contrast between how the community and big end of town are treated is striking. More than 200,000 people have signed Peter Fitzsimons' online petition opposing the policy. Locally, the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust has lost all recurrent funding and has been forced to make the parklands self-funding through commercialisation, thereby alienating grasslands from public use.

Massive redevelopment in surrounding suburbs will bring an extra 60,000 residents from Green Square alone—all living in apartments, all needing green open space to be healthy. There is community concern that Moore Park will be further eroded by the new stadium's relocation adjacent to the park. Crowd spill areas risk relegating Moore Park to just an extension of the Sydney Cricket Ground [SCG].

The community has foiled a number of SCG land‑grab attempts at Moore Park, including for the new stadium to be at Kippax Lake. Indeed it is likely that Allianz Stadium was left to become run-down because a new building in Moore Park was always expected. The SCG Trust is already saying that pedestrian pathways are needed through Moore Park to connect the new stadium to the light rail stop and to the Tibby Cotter Bridge. This risks significant loss of soft grass surface and comes after encroachment including in recent years from the Tibby Cotter Bridge and the light rail. It is unclear how much will be lost from the light rail for substations, the pedestrian bridge, stops, portals, the operations control centre and the drivers' facility structure.

The SCG Trust is hugely influential and has a history of getting what it wants from governments. It can build without a development application though, luckily, the Government has ensured there will be one for the stadium rebuild. The SCG's land was rezoned for commercial, residential and tourist accommodation, and it was excluded from the single governing body set up to manage all State stadiums. The SCG Trust also wants to expand its empire into the Entertainment Quarter and turn it into an elite sports precinct. There are pushes to change current restrictions that require the site to be used for film-related purposes, and we have heard proposals for car parks and hotels on the land.

This is public land set aside for public recreation. When the showgrounds were relocated, the community accepted that the precinct would be used for film-related purposes. It would be an outrageous betrayal if this promise was overturned. We do not know where the SCG will relocate its pool and gym, both of which will be removed by the stadium rebuild. Will they be located in the Entertainment Quarter or on their own land? These decisions will likely be made behind closed doors without any community input. Our rapidly expanding population means there is increasing demand for public open space and public recreation facilities, which are vital to health and wellbeing. I call on the Government to withdraw its plans to rebuild the stadium and reinvest funds in the parklands and community recreation.