Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION

WHAT is it about the old political observation that NSW does not stand for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong about which Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her 25 Sydney-based Liberal MPs cannot grasp? The question is worth asking considering the Premier’s recent grandstanding decision to demolish two of Sydney’s major sports stadiums and rebuild them at a stated cost of $2 billion yet it would be a brave government supporter who would bet now the figure will not blow out substantially, as most of this government’s public works projects have.

The government’s projection does not include the western Sydney flagship project, rebuilding Parramatta stadium. Just how much the state’s major sports bodies but particularly Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW, NRL, rugby, soccer and AFL might contribute is anyone’s guess; not much is one suggestion.

The government’s obsession with Western Sydney has been mooted as the reason for the big sports spend but Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, scored a goal with her observation: “The government says our parks must pay their own way - but 20 million people visit the Moore and Centennial parklands every year, while Allianz Stadium is a sea of empty seats on game days, averaging just 40 per cent capacity across the NRL, Super Rugby and A League seasons”.

Moore also pointed out the government’s backflip and capitulation to the SCG Trust of which former West Connex chief, Tony Shepherd, and ex-Premier, Barry O’Farrell, are now directors as are former News Limited chief, John Hartigan and “The Parrot”, Allan Jones. Fairfax commentator, Jason Saulwick, aptly wrote: “Berijiklian has made the poohbahs and potentates of Sydney’s sports world very happy. In handing them $2.3 billion of our money, the Premier will allow the great … of Sydney’s hospitality lounges to drape themselves in the glory of sport, and the glory of their role in it, for years to come”.

An ALP supporter wrote: “I’m sure many people in NSW are dumbfounded to hear that this State Government is planning to replace Homebush’s Olympic stadium. Since the ($38 million) “Bridge to Nowhere” was built at Moore Park, queer decisions are the order of the day”.

What might be a more useful exercise for all our State politicians is to draw up a program to provide funding for stadiums in country cities to provide venues to a standard that would allow more major sports events and matches on a regular basis. It’s called decentralisation, Premier!

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ROTARY colleague, David Payne, owner of Wagga’s Gateway Bookshop, wrote to the column: “I was interested to read in the DA (November 18, 2017) of the late Wal Fife’s friendship with former PM, Gough Whitlam; another reminder  that politics was conducted differently in the past, and we have all been the losers from these changes in the last 30 years”. The turbulent events of more recent times, especially those within individual parties, more so on the conservative side, are unlikely to change until grass roots political supporters tell factional leaders and party bosses that they will decide who gets pre-selection, not them.

So, full marks to the Greens and welcome to its newest Senator, WA’s Jordon Steele-John, 23, the youngest ever senator, and currently the youngest MP in the Parliament. He has mild cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. This is not a case of youth for youth’s sake; more a message to the major parties to clean out the dead wood. 

GRAHAM GORREL, www.dailyadvertiser.com.au