House debates

Monday, 6 February 2023

Constituency Statements

Bass Electorate: Sport

10:48 am

Photo of Bridget ArcherBridget Archer (Bass, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Tasmanian netball association has 1,550 members across 13 clubs and is growing. Launceston Basketball Association has more than 3,000 players from 500 teams, and that's with an increase in membership of over 30 per cent in just the past year. Female participation in AFL has seen growth of over 23 per cent in the past few years, and Hockey Tasmania's northern roster has more than 1,500 players using the local facility every week during peak season. These are just some of the statistics attached to popular sports in the Northern Tasmania region, and over the past few years I've met with key stakeholders, players and volunteers across these and other sporting codes all desperate for funding to ensure the facilities are fit-for-purpose and can meet growing demand.

For the Launceston Basketball Association, the significant rise can largely be attributed to the launch of our state's very own national basketball team, the Tasmanian JackJumpers, in 2021. While it's wonderful to see more and more young people engaged in the sport, it's causing a major headache for the association. Association President Craig Gibson has admitted they will not be able to find a spot for everyone this year: 'We'll have to go back to the clubs add tell them we don't have the space. You can only have this many teams, which means there'll be kids that don't get to play.' After meeting with members of the association late last year, I joined them as they launched their petition calling on all three levels of government to identify possibilities for an additional six courts while investing in the upgrade of the Elphin Sports Centre. It's a huge loss to young sporting enthusiasts, their families and the sporting community if clubs cannot continue to grow due to a lack of suitable infrastructure.

Just last year, after working closely with Hockey Tasmania, I was thrilled to announce an election commitment of $1.25 million for upgrades to the decades-old Northern Hockey Centre infrastructure at St Leonards bringing the centre up to contemporary standards. Sadly, despite of a pattern of me-tooing almost every election commitment I announced last year, the federal Labor government did not support this worthy proposal—much to the disappointment of the hockey community. Like the hockey centre, I was also acutely aware of the out-of-date and frankly dilapidated state of the community clubrooms and advocated for the redevelopment of the Exeter Show and Recreation Centre, securing the funding through the March 2022 budget. Once again, this project has demonstrated its merit, particularly as it will address the needs for a growing number of female participants playing AFL, and it received additional funding from the state government a year prior. After dragging their feet and leaving the community organisation waiting almost six months for news, Labor finally announced in October last year they would uphold my funding commitment. However, we're now in February and the funding still hasn't been delivered causing further costly delays.

Supporting grassroots sport through improved infrastructure is a long-term investment in the future of our communities leading to better physical and mental health outcomes. I'll continue to advocate for Labor to fund critical projects in our region to ensure the longevity of these growing sports.