House debates

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Statements by Members

Parramatta Electorate: Parramatta War Memorial Pool

1:33 pm

Photo of Julie OwensJulie Owens (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business) Share this | | Hansard source

When Rob Stokes, the former planning minister in New South Wales, left his position recently, he started to call for the Warringah pool in his electorate to remain open. It is a shame that when he was planning minister he did not show the same respect to my community when he set in motion the demolition of the Parramatta War Memorial pool.

The community is as outraged as you can get about this. On the weekend they were once again out, hanging their togs on the fence to show their contempt for this decision. I urge the new Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to reverse this decision and to protect community assets. It is also happening at a time when our councils have been abolished and when there is no democratic input into these decisions. In that 18-month window we will lose one of the great community assets.

The Parramatta pool is one of the best in New South Wales. It is Olympic standard. It has 10 lanes, it has an Olympic diving tower—only one of two in the Sydney area—it has a water polo pool and 160,000 people use it each year. And each week, 300 people go to learn-to-swim classes.

We had 22 drownings on our beaches in the two months to January and 225 near-drownings. Our lifesavers are telling us that half our people are reaching adulthood unable to swim. In areas like Parramatta, where our communities come from countries where swimming is not taught to children, we need that capacity. There will be 300 people a week who will not have anywhere to learn.

It is a war memorial pool, and it was built by crowdfunding in 1956—by the people's money—and we have the right to keep it. Change your mind, Premier!