Wagga Wagga Electorate Sporting Facilities

About this Item
SubjectsSport and Recreation; Football; Electorates: Wagga Wagga
SpeakersMaguire Mr Daryl
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

Page: 14087

    Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [12.01 p.m.]: I raise a major concern for the Wagga Wagga community. Wagga Wagga, which provides a myriad of services to the Riverina community, including sporting facilities, is known as the city of good sports. For over 30 years the Wagga Wagga Leagues Club has provided the Eric Weissel Oval and Allen Staunton Oval for use by the community. Those facilities were used as training grounds by young rugby league players and for match games. In June 2004, when the club went into receivership, those two essential sporting ovals were put at risk. The receivers have been unable to attract a buyer to whom they can sell the club and the properties as a going concern, and they have indicated that the assets will now be auctioned.

    The Allen Staunton Oval provides eight fields for senior and junior rugby league training and the local regional junior rugby league competition. In summer it is used as a junior cricket training and playing facility. Wagga Wagga City Council currently has a week-to-week lease of Allen Staunton Oval and maintains it jointly with the help of Wagga Wagga Junior Rugby League. The Eric Weissel Oval, one of the best rugby league stadiums in country Australia, has been used for group 9 competition games on a weekly basis during the football season and the group 9 grand final; junior rugby league grand finals; the Hardy Shield schoolboy competition; National Rugby League [NRL] trial games; the recent Brumbies versus Waikato Chiefs games; City versus Country rugby league; the Australia versus Papua New Guinea test match; and community events such as Walk Against Want.

    The Eric Weissel Oval has cricket nets that are used as a practice venue for a local cricket club. The oval has also been used for the 2005 national schoolboys titles and interdivisional country league games. It is the only facility in the southern part of the State that is capable of holding events such as the Brumbies trial match, NRL trial games, and test matches that attract crowds of 6,000 to 10,000 people. The next closest venue is in Canberra, 260 kilometres to the east. The loss of this facility will impact on commercial activity. For example, the Brumbies match brought many visitors and hence an injection of tourism and retail funds to the local community. Land is currently zoned as open space, private recreation, and council permission would be needed for alternative land use.

    I understand that Australian Rugby League is preparing a submission to seek funding to acquire both sites. If it is successful it proposes to create a community trust to manage the sites. That proposal is fully supported by the city council, residents of the region and me. Wagga Rugby League Inc. also has future plans to develop the facilities, in particular Weissel Oval, into a more multi-user complex, but the assets first need to be retained. I appeal to the Premier to respond to representations that will be made to him by the rugby league. As I said, Wagga Wagga is known as the city of good sports.

    Our city and region have produced great footballers such as the Mortimers, Eric Weissel, and Sterling, who have played on those grounds and on fields around the world. Thousands of kids have learned to play football and to enjoy the sport. I know that the Premier takes a great interest in State of Origin games. Many of the players who have come from Wagga Wagga and who have played on those fields have competed in State of Origin games. The Premier takes great pride in contests of that nature. People have a yearly bet on the raising of the flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge or in Brisbane when New South Wales or Queensland wins. I want the Premier to take a special interest in this issue.

    Our region and the sport of rugby league cannot afford to lose this precious oval and training ground. Like most members in this place I enjoy and have an interest in the game of rugby league. If this ground is lost, kids in this region will have nowhere to go. A major facility that can accommodate up to 10,000 people will be lost to our community. That ground could be used for some sort of housing development and we will have nowhere else to hold major events. As I said earlier, Canberra is the nearest venue. I appeal to the Premier to take this submission seriously and, for the sake of the game, to help retain those fields.