Stadiums Tasmania Bill 2021 (No 48)
Second Reading speech, Wednesday 23 March 2022
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, we heard in briefings yesterday that this is not a new notion and it has been under discussion for the last ten years or so. As it has been mentioned by previous members, the proposed $750 million stadium - but that is an argument for another day. Obviously, being a little parochial from the north my belief is the UTAS Stadium would certainly cater for a large number and really should be the centre for an AFL team, if we had one. That is purely my view and I am not going to go into any discussion about a $750 million stadium because that is an argument for another day and I do not think it is to do with this bill. That is all I would say about that, apart from the displeasure southerners and northerners have displayed to me in regard to it.
But regarding the bill before us, this bill enables Stadiums Tasmania to be etablished with a new statutory body being created. Like everyone else in this place, I have concerns about the number of boards and board members.
Ms Rattray - You more than anyone, member.
Ms ARMITAGE - Possibly, it is not so much the boards, it is more the representation I have concerns with. I have concern with most of the boards and I will probably ask some questions again in the House shortly, but it is more to do with representation across the regions, the north, the south and the north-west as opposed to interstate, where I have my concern. I believe it needs to be fair representation and the same with this board. I would like to see the board have fair representation across the state and that will be a question I will be asking. There are good people in the north and the north-west as well as the south and everyone does not necessarily need to come from the mainland to be part of a Tasmanian board. That is also a question once the board is put together, when we say where they are from and who they are.
It has been mentioned about cost and how much things do cost. The fact is that costs are positives and negatives and someone always has to pay. But in my mind, the ratepayers for Launceston and Clarence should not be paying for statewide facilities. They should not be paying for a stadium used by the whole state. Yes, it is cost shifting in some ways, but it is still the people of Tasmania paying and the whole of Tasmania should be paying for a statewide facility, as opposed to local councils. It is not fair and equitable and I certainly support the bill in that way.
Mr Valentine - One might say it is a cost-shifting game back the other way as it has happened from government to local government for many years.
Ms ARMITAGE - It has, but I would not call it cost shifting, mainly because when we actually look at it, why should 106 000 people of the Greater Launceston area pay for something that can be used by 526 000 people of Tasmania? It is certainly shared a lot more by the state than it is by a smaller council and the same with Clarence. I do not know how many people are in Clarence, but it is fair that it actually should be shared by the state.
Mr Valentine - That is my point.
Ms ARMITAGE - Absolutely, I agree with you.
Mr Valentine - Local government not bearing the cost. It is the Government bearing the cost and quite often, that happens the other way around.
Ms ARMITAGE - The letter from the acting mayor of Launceston was read in yesterday, but obviously, this is a different discussion. I take a couple of the comments from the acting mayor Danny Gibson, from Launceston council, where they say they have been:
… working with the state Government over the last three years to develop and enact the Stadiums Tasmania concept. It is abundantly clear that this reform is necessary as the management of major sports venues is highly specialised and distinct from the traditional roles of council, government and departments.
I can recall when I was on Launceston City Council, the cost of running areas such as UTAS and the aquatic centre, plus the QVMAG is huge for the people of Launceston when they are used by the whole of the north and sometimes the whole of the state.
He goes on:
Accordingly the creation of Stadiums Tasmania will enable Tasmanian stadiums to act commercially, being more responsive and flexible in decision-making than a traditional government department, provide the ability to operate with independence, reduce the council's and the state Government's exposures to the risks involved in the management of major sports facilities, including financial and legal risks and provide a vehicle for delivering a truly statewide stadium strategy.
The fact sheet we received says about establishing a stadium:
The establishment of a new contemporary … [statutory authority], whose features are largely drawn from provisions within the existing Tasmanian legislation.
So it is expected to assume responsibility for the four stadiums that we have ‑ MyState Bank Arena, the Silverdome, UTAS Stadium and Blundstone. I believe Dial Park in Penguin is a possibility as well. It makes sense for one group to manage our stadiums, particularly with the number of events that happen in Tasmania.
With regard to UTAS Stadium, a question I asked yesterday was to do with funding or sponsorship and the fact that the university sponsorship ran out on 1 January 2022. I see the Leader is taking notes. That is okay because I am going to answer the question I have just asked.
Mrs Hiscutt - Thank you so much, member for Launceston.
Ms ARMITAGE - We heard in briefings that negotiations are going on. Perhaps you can answer this question. If UTAS continued the sponsorship from 1 January 2022, when the current funding ran out, but the stadium is not taken over until December 2022, could Launceston City Council keep the proportion of sponsorship that was provided by UTAS Stadium and not have to hand that to the state?
Mrs Hiscutt - While the member is on her feet, I can answer that question. The answer is yes.
Ms ARMITAGE - Thank you. You might also be able to answer this question. The council has a draft future directions plan for York Park UTAS Stadium 2021 with a plan to take the seating capacity up to 27 500. Is that still on track to occur? While I was not going to refer to the $750 million stadium, I believe the seating for that was only about 30 000 -
Mrs Hiscutt - You are talking about transferring what?
Ms ARMITAGE - I am talking about the council's strategic development plan for UTAS in the future directions plan, with the money that was to be spent to take UTAS Stadium up to 27 500 seat capacity, from the current number. If the new stadium was to be built, I believe the seating capacity of that was 30 000. If we were to take UTAS Stadium up to 27 500, is that still on the cards or would that be considered not happening if the new stadium was to go ahead? Would the state Government then have two stadiums?
Mrs Hiscutt - I will have to seek advice.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes. Two stadiums in the state with a capacity of over 27 000 seats, which is one of my reasons I believe UTAS Stadium is already suited to AFL standard, as we know, and to the home of an AFL team, but that is purely my opinion. Being more centrally located to both the mainland and the rest of Tasmania.
Leader, I do support the bill before us. It is certainly a positive to have all the stadiums in the state under one management. I am not fond of yet another statutory body and the cost that goes along with it.
I agree with the member for McIntyre, that costs can blow out and what starts off as one number, can double and triple. However, I consider the current arrangement we have to be neither fair nor equitable for the local councils that are paying and managing statewide facilities. I certainly do support the bill.