Nationals MP defends Sydney stadium splurge, calls for more for rural grounds

Show us the money: Hilltops Council mayor Brian Ingram, Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke and Deputy Premier John Barilaro. Photo: Craig Thomson.More money needs to be spent on sporting infrastructure in regional and rural areasaccording to Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke.
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Ms Cooke reactedto the Liberal party’s Sydney centric sports stadium focus,including the $2.3 billion pledged to rebuild two Sydney stadiums,by reaffirmingher by-election promise to fight hard for sporting infrastructure in towns and villages across the Cootamundra electorate.

“I acknowledge there has been a discussion about spending on stadiums in Sydney which has created strong feelings in regional NSW,” she said.

“I am continuing to advocate strongly for increased spending on sport in the regions which, after all, is where a lot of sporting success stories have begun.”

Opposition Leader Luke Foley indicated he would not support the stadiums being rebuilt, saying the money should be spent on “schools and hospitals”.

“I will not allow this obscene amount of money to be spent on a couple of Sydney stadiums,” Mr Foley said.

“When thousands of children in the regions, like those in Young, are being taught in demountables and thousands of people are waiting months for elective surgery it is a crime that this out of touch government has committed such a huge amount of money on a couple of Sydney stadiums.”

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (ATA), a non-partisan grassroots advocacy body representing the interests of Australian taxpayers also condemned the NSW cabinet’s decision to spend $2 billion to replace the Sydney Olympic Stadium and Sydney Football Stadium.

“The Berejiklian government plan is evidence of deeply misplaced priorities at a time when the people of New South Wales stand in dire need of services to cater for our state’s burgeoning population.” Satyajeet Marar, Director of Policy at the ATA said.

“Instead of prioritising suburban infrastructure or prioritising grassroots facilities to encourage and nurture the athletes of tomorrow – the NSW government has chosen to extract a whopping $720 per household in state funds to destroy and replace state-of-the-art, international standard facilities, including the Olympic Stadium which is barely 17 years old.”

However, the Cootamundra MP has taken an ultra-local approach to the NSW Government’s increasing political problem.

Ms Cooke said a call to sporting organisations to tell her what was needed as far as sports infrastructure in her electorate has received an overwhelming response.

“We now have a definitive list which we can work towards achieving in the months and years to come. I want to make sure that every single sport gets a chance to have its say so that I can push as hard as I can for additional funding,” she said.

“The NSW Government has already committed to a wide range of infrastructure investment which will benefit communities across the state and the Cootamundra electorate.

“The Stronger Country Communities fund is bringing $200 million worth of investment into projects in Young, Temora, Aria Park, and right across the Cootamundra electorate. We are benefiting and will continue to benefit from NSW Government investment which will in no way be impacted by the decision to rebuild Sydney stadiums.”

Ms Cooke said the Sydney stadiums wouldbe world-class facilities which will drive tourism spending as well as making trips to Sydney for residents in the Cootamundra electorate much more enjoyable.

“Let’s not forget that many of us travel to Sydney to see international sporting or music events, and these trips create such happy memories,” she said.

“To be able to see these great events in a state-of-the-art stadium which has the best safety, security and comfort features will make these trips even more enjoyable.”

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