Sport Major Projects

Kardinia Park Stadium Bill 2nd Reading

8 December 2015

Debate resumed from 11 November; motion of Mr EREN (Minister for Sport).

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — It is a pleasure to rise to speak on the Kardinia Park Stadium Bill 2015. The bill establishes the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust, which is tasked with increasing the number and quality of events that are held at Kardinia Park by taking responsibility for the administration and maintenance of the stadium. The bill sets up the framework for the trust to be established. The trust will have the usual functions and responsibilities of trusts that oversee similar sporting grounds, such as the MCG and the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The trust will comprise between five and nine members, including a chairman, who has already been announced as former Premier Steve Bracks. The members will be appointed for three‑year terms and can serve a maximum of three consecutive terms. The trust will appoint a chief executive officer who will in turn be responsible for recruiting further staff. The trust will establish and maintain a fund called the Kardinia Park Trust Fund, and this fund will enable the trust to manage its financial accounts in the usual manner.

The Kardinia Park Stadium Trust will control the land set out within the schedules — and there are maps attached to the bill — which effectively means the main oval of Kardinia Park, the associated grandstands and the car parking areas, which are part of the trust land. However, on game day the trust will also take over the management of the entire Kardinia Park complex as it is now known by the people who are there. The day‑to‑day management of the area outside the stadium will remain with the City of Greater Geelong. This will avoid clashes between other user groups and will allow the best use of the space available for hosting AFL matches and other major events.

The bill also establishes the Kardinia Park advisory committee, which will advise the trust on the management and improvement of Kardinia Park. The members of the advisory committee will be a combination of members of the trust, the CEO of the trust, representatives of the Geelong Football Club, two representatives from user groups within the Kardinia Park precinct, two people nominated by council and other ministerial appointments. The trust will have the power to grant leases of up to 50 years for various tenants that exist within the trust area. There are quite a range of sporting organisations that hold sporting events in the Kardinia Park area.

For the sake of clarity, I should put on the record that I am a Geelong Football Club member and have been for a number of years. I have been a lifetime supporter of the Geelong Football Club, as has my mother. If I go back to my youth, Polly Farmer and Doug Wade were my football heroes at that time. A lot will be said about the Geelong Football Club in relation to this bill. In recent times the 2007 grand final win was a pleasure. It was the first grand final win after I think 44 years of not having won one. In 2009 the club won the grand final again. Because my mother is elderly and cannot travel well, I sat down and watched it with her. It was a great thrill for her, because she was actually there as a supporter at the 1951 and 1952 grand finals that Geelong won. Fred Flanagan was the captain and Bob Davis, who was known as the Geelong Flyer, was one of the stars. He went on to be an absolutely outstanding character and part of the World of Sport team with Lou Richards and company. Geelong has a long history with our family.

The important match that I personally enjoyed going to was the 2011 grand final. I was sitting up in the Southern Stand. As Geelong got further and further in front of Collingwood, it was just fantastic to watch all those Collingwood supporters, who are such poor losers, leave the ground early. From three‑quarter time on, half the Collingwood supporters had left the ground. It was really good to beat Collingwood, as everyone loves to, but also to watch those who went away early at that time.

The Geelong Football Club has a very proud and long history. It was formed in July 1859, so it is the second‑oldest football club here in Victoria. The Melbourne Football Club is older by only a few months; it was formed in early 1859. Geelong originally played at Argyle Paddock. In 1878 the club moved to Corio Oval, and then in 1941 it moved to Kardinia Park. That was a very challenging time in the history of the club. The Second World War was a challenging time for all of Australia. In 1942 and 1943 the club withdrew from the competition. Because of travel restrictions on people, the club’s fans could not come to Melbourne to the football and obviously Melbourne teams could not travel to Geelong. Also, with a number of players overseas serving in the armed forces, the club did not have teams. Apart from those two years, the club has a very long and proud history in the Victorian Football League and the Australian Football League.

Two former Geelong players have had distinguished careers in this place. The first was Neil Trezise, who was known as Nipper. He was part of the team in 1951 and 1952 when my mother went to watch the grand final matches. He served as an MP here for 28 years and 10 of those years as a minister. His son Ian served in this place for a number of years during the time that I have been a member. Nipper played 185 games for Geelong and kicked 272 goals between 1949 and 1959 and, as I said, he played in the 1951 and 1952 premiership teams. Following his retirement in 1959, when he was captain of the team, he went on to serve the club as a coach of the reserves side and he became the club president in 1974. He had a proud history with Geelong, and he served in this place, as did his son. They have been an outstanding family in the Geelong area.

The other notable member of Parliament who played with Geelong is currently a member of the upper house, Damian Drum, a member for Northern Victoria Region. He played 63 games with Geelong between 1982 and 1989 and kicked 34 goals. He started out with the no. 43 jumper but ended up with the no. 29 jumper. I suppose one of Drummy’s famous stories is that he would have been in the 1989 grand final against Hawthorn, which we sadly lost, but he did a hammy in the preliminary final and could not play. We all know the jokes about pulling a hammy and not being available, but I am sure that Drummy would have been absolutely determined to be in that team if he could have been. After his career with Geelong he went on to take up a coaching position with Port Melbourne. Then he moved to Sydney as assistant coach to Ron Barassi for a number of years before going on to Fremantle as a coach over there for three years. After his three years at Fremantle he came back to Bendigo to coach the Bendigo Diggers, and that is where we recruited him from to be a politician, the role that he now fills so outstandingly.

It is always interesting to look back at the history of what we are talking about in a bill, in this case Geelong and the Geelong Football Club, but especially the people involved and those who have connections with this place, because in a lot of ways Parliament is a microcosm of the society that people come here to represent.

The bill provides for the appointment of people to the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust. As I said, one is Steve Bracks, a former Premier of Victoria, an outstanding representative of the state and a very passionate Geelong supporter. If you think about the people who have been in this place and could equally serve in the role of chairman of the trust, I suppose you would think of Ted Baillieu, another former Premier who is also a very passionate Geelong supporter. Ted used to talk about his father going down the old Melbourne‑Geelong Road years ago, when he was a little tacker, and taking him to the football down there, and he is always going to the football there. Former Premier Denis Napthine is also a Geelong supporter, as is Terry Mulder. Robert Doyle, who was a Leader of the Opposition in this place, is a supporter. If you go to the Labor side of politics, you see Rob Hulls quite often at the football down there, and Tim Holding is also a supporter.

If you look at the recent history of the Geelong Football Club, the developments at Kardinia Park and the evolution into Skilled Stadium and now Simonds Stadium, you see a couple of constants involved there who are very important to acknowledge. They include Frank Costa as the president of the Geelong Football Club; Brian Cook, who was recruited and has now been a long‑term CEO of the club; and Colin Carter, who is now the president. Frank and Brian brought a lot of the football success and also a lot of business success to Geelong. The development that we have seen at Kardinia Park and the new development that was funded by the current government is a testament to the success of that team and what they have been able to achieve over that particular time. Those who have been to a night match at Simonds Stadium will know that the lights are fantastic. They certainly stand out on the Geelong skyline when a night game is being played there.

The opposition is obviously not opposing this particular piece of legislation.

Ms Asher interjected.

Mr WALSH — Coming from an Essendon supporter!

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr WALSH — There is nothing like those who do not barrack for Geelong, is there?

The issues into the future will be the challenges. The MCG trust outsources the management of the MCG and Yarra Park to the Melbourne Cricket Club, and there are leases for the Melbourne Football Club and other users of the oval. I suppose for the members of the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust the challenges will be who they appoint to manage that area and how they attract additional events to make sure they have the money to do the things they want to do into the future. There is a small budget allocation for the management of the trust, but there will obviously be a need for a greater income into the future. There will be some challenges for the members of the trust as to how they make sure the area is successful and continues to grow.

As I understand it, the council is putting $6 million into stage 4 of the development so that it can go ahead, but that also means that it will withdraw from contributing to any recurrent expenditure in the Kardinia Park Stadium precinct. It will retain the maintenance and the operation of the areas outside the defined area on non‑AFL and major event days.

The trust members will have a big job in making sure they raise the additional revenue and that they get other major events there, apart from Geelong home ground games. There is talk about T20 cricket matches and soccer matches. Obviously there will be talk about rock concerts and other public events. We wish them well in their role in the future to make sure that precinct maintains its pre‑eminent position in the Geelong community. I wish the bill a speedy passage.


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