Basketball funding stoush bounces between parties

Eyes on the ball: Opals’ Rachel Jarry shoots for goal during the Australia versus Japan basketball match at Frankston stadium last week. Picture: Gary Sissons

Eyes on the ball: Opals’ Rachel Jarry shoots for goal during the Australia versus Japan basketball match at Frankston stadium last week. Picture: Gary Sissons

AN appreciative sell-out crowd at Frankston Basketball Stadium in Seaford watched the Australian Opals down Japan 85-64 last Wednesday evening (29 July) while an off court political game over funding for the stadium goes into overtime.

Hostilities between the federal Coalition and Labor state government broke out again after Labor Sports Minister John Eren released a statement claiming Dunkley Liberal MP Bruce Billson and Prime Minister Tony Abbott “are yet to contribute a cent” to a planned $20-$25 million redevelopment of the basketball stadium.

“We have committed $2.5 million towards the Frankston Basketball Stadium so this important expansion can begin … but Mr Billson is too busy playing politics. He needs to worry about his day job and pressure Tony Abbott to fund this project,” Mr Eren said in the statement.

Mr Billson hit back and said the federal government has been working “constructively” with Frankston Council and the Frankston Basketball Association to try to win federal funding for the stadium upgrade.

He noted the $2.5 million Labor pledge had originally been allocated by the previous Coalition state government.

“The Labor state government has not contributed a dollar to the project and have added no positive contribution or support at all,” Mr Billson said.

“They seem less interested in getting the project off the ground than playing base politics with an important local project.”

State Liberal Upper House MP Gordon Rich-Phillips issued a statement claiming the Andrews Labor government “is misleading the people of Frankston about funding provided for the Frankston Basketball Stadium upgrade”.

“It is the height of hypocrisy for local state Labor members Paul Edbrooke and Sonia Kilkenny to be complaining about funding for the Frankston Basketball Stadium when their government has provided zero dollars in additional funding for these important upgrade works,” Mr Rich-Phillips said in the statement.

Labor Carrum MP Sonya Kilkenny insisted the federal government has not put any money into the project as yet.

“Unfortunately this means this much needed and worthwhile project is in limbo,” she said.

“Rather than rant about it, let’s work together for the people of Frankston and Seaford and surrounding areas and get on with the redevelopment of the Frankston Basketball stadium. We can only do this if the federal government puts money in as well.”

Frankston Council did not respond when asked for comment on the latest outbreak of bickering between the major political parties when contacted by The Times last week.

A second application for federal funding via the Abbott government’s National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) program is due to be lodged by council.

A first application for $4 million was knocked back due to a lack of overall funding for the project. Council pledged $4 million, the state government promised $2.5 million and the basketball association will throw in $1 million to redevelop the stadium to cater for more local basketballers.

First published in the Frankston Times – 3 August 2015

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