My adjournment matter this evening is directed to the Minister for Sport and Recreation and relates to a chain of events leading up to 21 July when the minister made two funding announcements in Geelong, including funding for the Grovedale sports club redevelopment project and funding for Barwon Rowing Club. As is the case with many sport and recreation projects, these projects also received funding from local government, in this case the City of Greater Geelong.
It has been the protocol for many years with these types of projects that when there are both state and local government funding contributions, media releases issued on the day of the funding announcements are shared between the state government and the local council. This was the case leading up to 21 July. The minister’s office wrote the first half of the media release and then sent it to the City of Greater Geelong for the inclusion of quotes from local councillors linked to the particular projects. What happened in this case was that the Grovedale sports club redevelopment project media release was completed by the City of Greater Geelong with quotes from Buckley ward’s Cr Andy Richards, and the Barwon Rowing Club media release was completed by the council with quotes from Brownbill ward’s Cr Barb Abley.
Both media releases were approved by the council and sent back to the minister’s office to be issued on the day of the funding announcement.
However, on the day of the announcement the government issued a media release which was consistent with what was agreed upon by the City of Greater Geelong but with one difference. The minister’s office attributed the quotes provided to the member for South Barwon in the Assembly, Andrew Katos, and a member for Western Victoria Region, David Koch, instead of their rightful authors, Cr Abley and Cr Richards.
The City of Greater Geelong provided significant funding for these projects. The council provided $670 000 to the Grovedale project, compared with the state’s contribution of $200 000. However, the government’s changed media release gives the local council and its ratepayers absolutely no credit for a project for which they provided over 75 per cent of the funding. On one level you could have a real giggle about this situation, but it sends a message about the new benchmarks that this government has set for over-the-top, blatant political opportunism, not to mention gross plagiarism.
It also tells a story of a government that disregards the funding facts and the sheer hard work that the people of Geelong have put into these projects.