NSW Labor representatives have criticised the Berejiklian Government’s approach to the development of the Hunter Sports and Entertainment Precinct amid the excitement of Australia’s successful 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid.
Newcastle State MP Tim Crakanthorp and Shadow Minister for Sport, Lynda Voltz, met at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday morning to slam the government’s lack of progress three years after the plan was announced.
The proposed precinct sits five kilometres from the centre of Newcastle on state-owned land, with McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Newcastle Showground all under the management of Venues NSW.
In July 2017, the then-Sports Minister Stuart Ayres unveiled a draft concept plan for the redevelopment of the 63-hectare site, which included a multi-purpose area, multi-purpose fields and a consolidated sports facility, calling the area “a precinct of global significance”.
However, Labor claimed the government refused to provide a progress timeline during Budget estimates questioning this year, merely stating that it was still consolidating responses from its consultation period.
Mr Crakanthorp said the state’s second largest city deserved premier sports and entertainment facilities.
His comments came after Australia and New Zealand were announced as the co-hosts of the 2023 World Cup, with Newcastle expected to be a match venue during the tournament.
“It has been a staggering three years since the then-Sports Minister waltzed into Newcastle with some pretty pictures and a draft concept plan for the site, but since then the silence has been deafening,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“There’s no time like the present to move this forward, particularly with the World Cup on its way and large infrastructure projects critical to post-COVID recovery.
“It’s not good enough to say ‘we’re working [on] it’ – show us what you’ve done, because having so little to show for three years of work does not instill much faith.”
Ms Voltz added it would be “disappointing” if the upgrades were not finished before the World Cup, which she believed would showcase Newcastle to the world events market and secure badly-needed jobs for the future.
View the Vision for the Hunter Sports and Entertainment Precinct document here.