Parties clash over stadium funding

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A MAJOR redevelopment of the Frankston Basketball Association stadium in Seaford is being used as a political football with claims and counter claims between the major political parties about funding the $20-$25 million project.

The former Coalition state government went to November’s election promising to pitch in $2.5 million towards the $13 million stage one redevelopment of the stadium but federal Liberal MP for Dunkley Bruce Billson has tried to get Labor to commit $4 million, $1.5 million more than the Liberals officially pledged.

In a statement Mr Billson accused the Labor state government of failing to confirm funding needed “to secure a federal grant” to redevelop the Seaford complex.

The Liberal MP said federal funding is “dependent on demonstrating matching funding to show the genuine local support and priority of the project”.

“When the Commonwealth department handling the grant process wrote to the Victorian Labor government seeking confirmation that the $4 million state commitment pledged by the Napthine government was still on the table, this confirmation was not forthcoming,” Mr Billson said.

When asked by The Times to clarify the funding amount committed by the Napthine government Mr Billson said: “The previous state government committed $2.5 million to the project. Frankston Council and the Frankston Basketball Association approached that government for an extra $1.5 million, and during discussions were given the impression that extra funding would be provided.”

Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke hit back at Mr Billson over the funding claims.

“We have committed $2.5 million towards the Frankston Basketball Stadium so this important expansion can begin, but Mr Billson and the Abbott government are yet to commit a cent,” he said.

“Instead of misleading the people of Frankston, Mr Billson should do his day job and pressure Tony Abbott to fund this vital project.”

Mr Billson admitted “no concerns have been raised with me by Commonwealth officials about the funding application” but claimed “having the rug pulled out from underneath the proponents by the state government dialling back its support for project was a deal-breaker under the funding guidelines”.

Mr Edbrooke said Labor “is getting on with upgrading the Frankston Basketball Stadium and won’t be distracted by ignorant commentary by the federal member”.

The Frankston District Basketball Association will contribute $1 million to stage 1 of the stadium redevelopment alongside council, state and federal funding. Stage 1 will include the refurbishment of existing facilities and new basketball courts.  

First published in the Frankston Times – 15 June 2015

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