Supporting the Mpowerdome

In the Assembly today, I spoke in favour of the Motion brought by Andrew Wall MLA, calling on the ACT Government to take immediate action to ensure that the MPowerdome can reopen, and for the Government to fix the parking impasse.

In my speech I recognized the importance of the facility for Canberra, but emphasize again the lack of suitable indoor sports centres throughout the ACT.

The text of my speech reads as follows:

"Madam Speaker, I thank Mr Wall very much for bringing forward this motion; I want to start today, in speaking in support of this motion.

The Minister for sport and recreation has taken great pride in the high rates of participation in sport of the people of the ACT.

The people of the ACT are to be congratulated. The December 2016 results of the Ausplay survey, a national population, tracking survey funded and led by the Australian Sports Commission, and funded by the Federal Liberal Government, shows that we have very high participation rates for those involved in sporting activities, particularly for adults. Although unfortunately, this is much lower for children.

We suspect, that this may have to do with Canberra’s climate, (just this week we went from a high of 41 to a cool 17!), for what the Ausplay survey also shows, is that much of our participation in sport occurs in indoor sport centres, gyms, and leisure centres. More than more than half of all men and an almost two thirds of women prefer to exercise in an indoor centre. These numbers are even higher for older Canberrans.

The government’s healthy living initiatives attempts to encourage people in Canberra to get active, but then makes it difficult, if not impossible, to do so.

The lack of indoor sporting facilities is forcing our Canberran teams to find accommodation outside of the Territory. An example is a roller derby team, which was forced to move to Queanbeyan High School – where they pay $600 a week for the use of their facilities, because of a lack of suitable facilities here.

The Minister has suggested that schools will be made available in Canberra instead. Yet, many of them have inappropriate facilities such as a lack of change rooms, or storage facilities, and many of them are quite small. Furthermore, to date, we are aware of only one school that has been made available.

The government’s own ACT Indoor Sports Facilities Study final report, delivered in 2015, demonstrated a significant shortage of indoor multi-court facilities, across Canberra, but especially during the peak times, such as during after-work-hours, when Canberrans like to participate in sporting activities. The Report recommended the building of the new centres in Molonglo and Gungahlin and the continued support of existing centres.

Mr Wall has called on the government to work with the owners and get the centre operational again. But the MPowerdome is not the only centre to have closed its doors in recent years. We have also seen the closure of the Kambah Indoor Sports Centre, and the Woden indoor sports centre. Furthermore, there is an ongoing failure of the government to build any new centres.

An indoor sports centre was promised for Molonglo, and a feasibility study conducted in 2012. Yet, 5 years later, we are still waiting to see this come to fruition. Although we are finally seeing some action on a pool for Molonglo; it does not appear that there are any indoor courts or a gym facility attached, even though that was the recommendation in the 2012 feasibility study.

The sports centre in Gungahlin is even further away from becoming a reality. In the 2012 election the then minister for sports and recreation promised a feasibility study. But 5 years on we are still waiting; this is despite significant public interest, over a long period of time.

The Gungahlin area is growing rapidly, with new suburbs coming online at a fast rate! Figures released by the ABS in March last year, showed that this district is growing at higher rate than the national average. The government’s own planning directorate has estimated that this area will have over 65,000 persons by 2019, only two years away. And as we know many of the people moving into this area are young people and young families. Active people who need sporting outlets that can be utilised 365 days a year; especially over the colder Canberra winter months. Yet we are still seeing no movement on the promised indoor sports facility.

We want to see Canberrans being active, we want to promote a healthy life style, and we want to encourage participation in sport for all age groups. I commend Mr Wall for his motion, and look forward to the governments’ action to bring this centre back online, and the government work towards the “sustainable options for increasing the use of existing centres”, as recommended in its own report."

You can view the speech here


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