MP frustrated by Browne Park stadium progress delays
MORE than two years since Barry O’Rourke swept to victory in the seat of Rockhampton promising a feasibility study to upgrade Browne Park with a stadium, progress on the project remains frustratingly slow with the community kept largely in the dark.
Following up with the Queensland Government over the past year since the feasibility study had been completed, The Morning Bulletin has continued to receive vague responses to questions regarding the final price tag, stadium designs, seating capacity and the outcome of the study.
During her visit to Rockhampton last July, Mr O’Rourke showed Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the site where she revealed the stadium project had her support and the next stage was consideration by the Cabinet Budget Review Committee.
“It has to be considered by government, that’s the process that happens. But Barry wanted me to see first hand,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I’ve been here before but actually now it all fits in and makes sense. It will have to go to Cabinet and I would like to see it being considered by Cabinet by the end of the year.”
Cabinet was expected to make decisions on whether to pursue the project and how it would be funded, with the results of the feasibility study then to be made public.
Due to the confidentiality associated with the Cabinet process, it is unable to be known whether the proposed stadium was discussed by Cabinet last year or the outcome of the deliberations.
A Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development spokesperson said the State Government was still considering the possibility of delivering a new stadium at Browne Park.
“The government’s priority is to ensure taxpayers get the best possible return for their investment,” they said.
When the Premier’s office was pressed for further information, a spokesperson said, “the project is part of budget deliberations”.
Questioned about the slow progress of his pet project, Mr O’Rourke admitted he was “as frustrated as anyone with the delays in getting this through Cabinet and have made my views known to senior colleagues”.
“I’ve met with both the Premier and the Treasurer on this and both know this is a priority for our city. I want to see action on this as soon as possible,” he said.
“This is a fantastic project that will create jobs and help us to attract more sporting events to bring visitors to our city. There shouldn’t be any doubt that it needs to go ahead.”
Discussing possible funding options last year, the DITID spokesperson suggested an application to the Northern Australia Infrsatructure Facility was a possible funding option.
“I have had various conversations with stakeholders from Browne Park and from Rocky Rugby League and their redevelopment of Browne Park would certainly deliver a new project and facilities,” Ms Landry said.
“I would be receptive, should the State Government be prepared to bring me the costings, to support the project. Like others in the region, though, I fear the ALP will not be willing to share information on this project; they certainly have been thus far.”
A Queensland Government spokesperson responded to Ms Landry’s comments saying local Federal Members don’t need anyone’s permission to lobby their own government for funding for this or any other project.
“$100 million was available in the sports grant fund for example. There are also billions unspent in the NAIF,” the spokesperson said.
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson and her candidate for Keppel Wade Rothery continue to back the rival bid for the Rocky Stadium proposed to be built at Victoria Park.
Members of the Browne Park Trust were approached for comment.