The NSW Greens have ramped up their campaign for the building of long-awaited Ballina indoor sports centre, formally urging all state MPs in parliament to back the move.
The Greens’ Jeremy Buckingham yesterday put up a notice a motion in the parliament calling on the NSW government to fund the construction of the facility, saying there was ‘a clear need’ for a ‘modern, world-class indoor sports facility to boost the Ballina economy’.
Mr Buckingham, who raised the issue during a recent visit to the town, said it could also support the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast as a host venue.
He asked whether the Labor and National parties would ‘stand with the Ballina community’ or ‘simply take them for granted as a “safe seat”?
The town’s residents have been lobbying state governments for the sports centre for nearly two decades.
Greens candidate for Ballina, Tamara Smith, who has made the building of the centre one of her election priorities, also threw the gauntlet down to the other candidates for Ballina to ‘commit to making this project a reality’.
‘Ballina is the only town of its size in NSW that does not have a multi-court, indoor sporting facility,’ Ms Smith said.
‘The community have been crying out for this facility for nearly 20 years, Ballina Council is supportive, but clearly needs funding assistance from the NSW government in order to make the project a reality.’
Ms Smith told APN Media it was ‘appalling Ballina, home to more than 40,000 residents, has no indoor centre when other towns across the state with smaller populations, such as Byron Bay, do have a facility’.
She said that sporting groups in the town were forced to use a single indoor court at Southern Cross High School which was ‘inadequate’ for their needs and growing membership.
The project is estimated to cost around $15 million and expected to include four courts, a gym and other sports facilities.
Ballina Basketball Association junior president Eva Ramsey told APN ‘the advantage to our children, our families and our community would be enormous – from health to the financial benefit, our community would all prosper greatly’.
In his notice of motion, Mr Buckingham recognised the work of ‘the Ballina Community and in particular the Ballina Basketball Association, Ballina Regional Indoor Sporting Association, Southern Cross School, Basketball NSW, and the Ballina Shire Council in supporting this project’.
He also ‘condemns the Nationals for failing to gain funding for this important project, despite it being over five years since the indoor sport and events centre was approved by the Ballina local council’.