IT seems like it is finally game over for a long-anticipated $12.7 million upgrade to the Frankston Basketball Stadium after sensational comments made in Canberra last week by federal Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther.
Mr Crewther made several allegations under parliamentary privilege on Tuesday evening (27 March) about possible misconduct at the Frankston & District Basketball Association.
In his parliamentary speech, Mr Crewther said Frankston Council was aware of several troubling matters involving governance at the FDBA and would no longer negotiate with the association over lease terms for an upgraded stadium to include four new basketball courts.
He called on association members to take action to replace the current FDBA board.
The Dunkley MP hosted a meeting between FDBA and council representatives on Friday this month as a “last shot” at reaching agreement on a lease for the FDBA in upgraded premises on council-owned land at Seaford’s Bardia Avenue.
The week after the Friday 23 March meeting, Mr Crewther fired some explosive shots of his own in the form of serious allegations under parliamentary privilege, effectively protecting him from legal action over the comments.
The association said it “is aggrieved and disappointed” at the federal MP’s comments.
“The Member for Dunkley noted that if a new lease is not in place by 30 March the $5.2 million in federal government funding for the project will be jeopardised,” a statement attributed to the FDBA board of management said.
“Instead of calling on both the FDBA and council to get together and finalise the terms of the new lease for the benefit of the sport of basketball and the community, the Member for Dunkley backed the council’s ultimatum, namely that it will not negotiate lease terms with the FDBA unless the current board of management is sacked and a new board is elected.”
According to its website, the FDBA board of management is president Gary Emery, vice-president Tim Bower, treasurer Ian Watt, Frankston Blues chairman Chris Beattie and general board members Grant Dennis, Brenda Cotta and Peter Harms.
Frankston mayor Cr Colin Hampton said council will now focus on building basketball courts at Jubilee Park, home of the Frankston & District Netball Association.
“Council is aware of the federal Member for Dunkley, Chris Crewther MP’s recent speech in Parliament,” the mayor said in a statement.
“Council remains committed to delivering improved basketball facilities for the entire Frankston City community to enjoy.
“As a result, we have today signed council’s response to the federal minister [Federal Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister John McVeigh] in order to meet the 30 March deadline to ensure there is a viable basketball project within Frankston City going forward.
“To ensure both federal and state government funding remains within Frankston City, council has submitted a proposal for new basketball facilities at Jubilee Park as an alternative site within the municipality.”
The federal government was to contribute $5.2 million to the upgrade at the Frankston Basketball Stadium, the state government $2.5 million, Frankston Council $4 million and the Frankston and District Basketball Association $1 million towards the stadium upgrade.
Council will now have to convince the federal government the $5.2 million can be reallocated to Jubilee Park and not lost completely to the Frankston area.
This article, including any updates, will be published in the Frankston Times newspaper on Monday 2 April.