With the continued push by the State Government to to knock down and rebuild the Allianz Stadium in Moore Park in Sydney Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing growing opposition to the huge spend. Initially considered by many in the Eurobodalla as being a "Sydney issue" it is becoming more and more evident that regional and rural NSW residents are seeing this as a Metropolitan spend at the cost of the poor country cousins who say the money would be better spent to benefit the whole of NSW State in education and health rather than to benefit the few. Leanne Atkinson, the Labor candidate for the state seat of Bega caught up with The Beagle over coffee and offered her perspective on the issue. "The Sydney stadiums splurge is wrong and it is up to us to stop it. I’m making it clear where I stand and why. I think the Sydney stadiums splurge is a wasteful extravagance that panders to the big corporate entities who want their elite sports franchises subsidised.They get all the benefits, and enjoy the fancy corporate boxes, but they want the public to pick up all the costs. This is wrong because it is happening at the very same time that our community is crying out for better health services and the creation of local jobs. "There is no economic case for what the Berejiklian Government is doing. The benefit cost ratios (BCR) for both the Moore Park and Olympic Park stadiums were less than one – meaning that the stadiums will never repay their costs and taxpayers will lose money on them. These BCRs were calculated not by critics of the plan, but by the Berejiklian Government’s own expert advisers working in Infrastructure NSW. That should have been the end of the idea, but inexplicably the Berejiklian Government has pressed on despite their own infrastructure experts telling them that the stadiums splurge is economically irresponsible." "Spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums is an indulgence that should not be supported. At a time of stagnant wages, when families are battling with high electricity bills and jobs are becoming less and less secure, the decision to spend billions on stadiums is a clear illustration that the Government that has lost touch and is pursuing the wrong priorities." Leanne Atkinson is the Labor candidate for the state seat of Bega. Ms Atkinson quoted the following figures "In evidence to the NSW Parliament’s Public Works Committee, Mr Matt Miller, the CEO of the Office of Sport, confirmed that the new stadium at Moore Park will have 33,203 general admission seats – down from the existing 35,000. At the same time, there will be 3,797 seats in the corporate boxes – up from the existing 2,905. This means that after spending hundreds of millions of public dollars, there will be even less opportunity for the public to attend." "If the big corporates want a new stadium they are welcome to pay for it, but it is appalling that they are getting it for free from the Berejiklian Government. We need a Government that will act in the community’s interest, not one that kow-tows to the big end of town. Whether it is $2.2 billion on stadiums and $17.8 billion WestConnex toll road, or the ever-increasing cost of the disastrous CBD light rail, the Government seems to have no shortage of money to throw at expensive projects in Sydney." "Meanwhile, in regional communities like ours, the basic services are being ignored. I want to see this corrected with genuine investment in our local health services and in our schools. This is how we can give our kids the best start in life, support those in urgent need of health care and make our local communities succeed" the Labor candidate said. "People will have a clear choice to make in March. They can support spending billions on Sydney stadiums or they can oppose it. I know what I will be voting for." Ms Atkinson concluded.
Left: Leanne Atkinson, the Labor candidate for the state seat of Bega with (Right) Fiona Phillips, Labor Candidate for the Federal seat of Gilmore