It is with great pleasure that I rise this morning to speak on the Kardinia Park Stadium Bill 2015, because it is an important piece of legislation that is going to contribute to the Geelong community and the Geelong economy.
But before I go to the specific aspects of the bill, I would like to reflect on the activities that are undertaken at Kardinia Park, and they are wide and varied: from a swimming pool that services swimmers, particularly those that do not mind a non-heated swimming pool, to the netball courts that have got the lights on at night more nights than most, and, as previous speakers have mentioned, a wide range of ages participate in that sport.
We also have Leisurelink’s head office situated there, and I know that there are a number of people who participate in programs that are delivered on-site there. In particular there is one individual who is close to my electorate office, young Brett, who loves being there every single day. When there is an AFL match there on a Saturday he is certainly there at the crack of dawn and stays until stumps. He is an amazing young fellow and a tribute to the community, which supports him and to which he provides great delight. So it is a very special place for so many people. I do not think there would be one person in the region who at some stage has not been there or participated in some sort of activity, whether it is sport or otherwise.
There are three sporting ovals, which are home to the Geelong Cats AFL and Victorian Football League teams, as well as St Mary’s Sporting Club, as we have heard. We also have the Geelong Cricket Club, which plays in the Victorian Premier Cricket league. There is also the very important Geelong Football Umpires League, with its headquarters just outside the stadium itself. As I mentioned, the park is not just the home of sport. It also provides the opportunity for the community to come together in a whole range of activities, and number of the facilities are leased out to a number of organisations for seminars and conferences. We also of course have our more senior citizens in the Geelong area involved in a whole range of activities and programs at Kardinia Park.
Deakin University also needs to be mentioned, as it has the Deakin Cats Community Centre, and the centre is an 800-metre facility on the ground floor of the players stand at Simonds Stadium, which includes a computer lab, meeting spaces and a multipurpose area. If anyone has not had the opportunity to go there, I strongly urge them to do so. It is a real breakthrough in terms of making sure that there is serious, genuine interaction with the community and sporting organisations. It really does set a new benchmark when it comes to community engagement by linking members of the community with community and sporting organisations.
The bill before us this morning actually delivers on an election promise that this government made to the community of Geelong and indeed all Cats supporters in this state, in other states and indeed the rest of the world — that is, that we would set up — —
Mr Jennings — It’s like Mecca!
Ms TIERNEY — Absolutely, Kardinia Park is a mecca. I think in a contribution I made recently about Dick Gray in this Parliament, I said he had actually shifted to the Bellarine so that he could be closer to the Geelong Cats when he retired from the union movement.
Having said that, the fact of the matter is that this bill, the setting up of this trust and getting a new arrangement in place will enhance the economy of Geelong and provide clearer delineation of responsibilities between the government, the trust, the council and a variety of sporting and other organisations that exist and coexist at Kardinia Park. The government in January 2015 said that it would fast-track the elevation of Simonds Stadium to trust status, and that is exactly what it is doing with the passage of this bill today. As previous speakers have mentioned, we appointed the former Premier Steve Bracks to head up the Kardinia Park advisory committee, and it undertook extensive consultations with the community, including the Greater Geelong City Council, the football club, and sporting and non-sporting organisations. It was great to have Steve on board, because apart from being a great Geelong Football Club supporter he also really does understand the needs of the Geelong community. He knew a lot of people right from the outset and was able to hold very broad but very deep consultations with the community, knowing full well that Kardinia Park is very much the heart and soul and heartbeat of Geelong. So it was very good that we are able to have that exercise undertaken and that we were able to listen and get this very important advice from the community. Today is about implementing that and it is about getting on with the job.
We understand very much the important role that this stadium plays in Geelong. It is because of that importance that this government is investing $70 million towards building stage 4 of the redevelopment of the stadium. Demolition started in October and is well underway. Together the trust and Labor’s investment in the stadium will enable this great venue to host more events.
Once the trust is actually established the stadium will officially stand alongside the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the league of great Australian sporting arenas, and that is something we are very much looking forward to. This bill provides for the trust to take control of further areas of Kardinia Park that are not Kardinia Park trust land on event days when major events are held on land managed by the trust. This will ensure that all aspects of events can be delivered in an efficient way.
This bill also provides, on the recommendation of the minister, that the Governor in Council, by order published in the Government Gazette, may declare an event to be a Kardinia Park event. The declaration may cover more than one event and the minister may not make a recommendation for a declaration unless the minister is satisfied that the event is suitable to be held and the event is of significance to the Geelong region. It is anticipated that all Australian Football League premiership season matches scheduled to be played at the stadium in a particular year will be covered by a declaration.
The bill will also ensure that the trust is accountable by outlining the requirements that it must fulfil, including planning, development, financial management and operational duties. It is this government that recognises in the bill the important role that all of Kardinia Park plays, and the bill provides an opportunity to potentially add further areas of the park to trust land in the future by revoking the permanent reservations over all parcels of land in Kardinia Park that are permanently reserved and temporarily re-reserving the land for the same purposes. Further areas of the park may be added to the trust’s land in future and the bill provides a process for that to take place. This will only be done with the agreement of the council unless unforeseen circumstances dictate otherwise and should include an agreement on costs.
This bill marks a new era for the people of Geelong, and we are delivering on our election commitment. It is a straightforward bill, it is a positive bill, it is a bill about growth, it is a bill about community and it is a bill about community and its connection with sport. I commend the bill to the house.