Editorial: Good start for Ayres, now plan needs funds

Sport Minister Stuart Ayres

Sport Minister Stuart Ayres

AS Novocastrians, we often bemoan state governments imposing their will on our region.

To many in the city, it feels as though Macquarie Street is acting without due consideration of what we, as the people who live and work here, actually want.

Whether you share that feeling or not, it’s hard to deny that it’s a continuing trope in our city’s politics. For that reason, it’s hard to criticise Sport Minister Stuart Ayres after the release of the long-awaited concept plan for the Hunter sport and entertainment precinct in Broadmeadow.

The government, he says, has given us a partly finished canvas. It’s up to us to decide how the painting ends up looking.

It’s true though that the glaring omission from this plan is any guarantee of future state funding.

The projects mooted for the precinct have not been costed, and there’s no business case behind any of the ideas raised. 

Mr Ayres says that’s because the government wants to know what we want before it locks in any commitments, but it’s also obvious that he wants to attract private investment to the precinct. 

On Wednesday he pointed to development in Honeysuckle as a blueprint for how Broadmeadow could progress.

The response to that could go either way. On one hand, development in Honeysuckle hasn’t exactly been perfect, and nor has it been quick.

But at least it’s happened. In the present climate it is probably unrealistic to expect that the state government would fund such a significant undertaking, and the worst outcome for this concept plan is that it remains just that; 15 pages of bright ideas that go nowhere. 

Mr Ayres also points out, fairly, that the government hasn’t gone missing on funding for this area.

Last year the Berejiklian government committed $10 million to the overhaul of the Newcastle International Hockey Centre and $5 million for Newcastle basketball. It’s also expected to announce another $10 million to help fund a centre of excellence for the Newcastle Knights in the coming weeks.

That is, though, somewhat less than the $1.6 billion the government’s investing in stadium infrastructure in Sydney. 

What comes next is vital. The three-month consultation period will lock in the development priorities and, hopefully, lead to some concrete funding and plans.

Issue: 38,537

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop