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Canberra needs leaders with vision and a plan for the future, not a "fly in the ointment"

Community-endorsed ACT Independent Senate candidate, David Pocock, has welcomed Senator Seselja coming out in support of his call last week to upgrade Viking Park but said it was disappointing that he fell short of backing a more meaningful investment in Canberra’s future.

In the proposal he outlined last week, David said:

“Construction of a new stadium will take time and upgrading a venue like Viking Park could provide a temporary home ground for the Brumbies and Raiders as a viable interim solution that will enhance the player and spectator experience. Demountable stadium seating and increased amenity can be employed quickly and cost-effectively to increase the venue’s current capacity.”

Importantly, David’s support for a new National Convention Centre and Stadium focuses on transforming the future of Australia’s capital city and the economic benefits this type of infrastructure investment would bring to Canberra businesses, big and small.

“It is disappointing that Senator Seselja, after nine years in government, hasn’t been able to secure support from his colleagues for the meaningful nation-building infrastructure investment that our city needs,” David said.

“Being a ‘fly in the ointment’ of the government isn’t enough. Canberrans deserve to have someone on the hill championing our city and our community, and that’s what I want to do.

“We need vision and someone willing to work with federal and territory governments to get the best outcome for Canberrans.

“Upgrading Viking Park in Tuggeranong is important but it needs to be part of a more ambitious vision for Canberra.

“On it’s own this upgrade still doesn’t allow us to host Rugby World Cup games or big music events - currently our largest music venue has a capacity of 1,800 - and it still leaves us with the second oldest convention centre in the country that was turning away over $20 million of business a year due to lack of space.

“Our community has suffered during Covid and this is compounded by the long-term underinvestment in the nation’s capital, especially compared to other, marginal cities.

“Giving Australia’s capital city the capacity to host major events through a long-term infrastructure investment plan for a Convention Centre and Stadium precinct will rebuild our economic resilience, creating jobs as well as knowledge and cash flow into our city that lasts for decades.

“Why can other cities like Townsville, which received $100 million in federal funding for their new stadium, get this type of investment but the nation’s capital can’t?

“That Senator Seselja hasn’t been able to secure approval yet from the Prime Minister and Treasurer for what is a relatively minor upgrade of a modest but much-loved Viking Park highlights the poor deal Canberra is getting.

“Viking Park is a great ground. It's important that ground upgrades like this are part of a bigger plan to ensure Canberra continues to be a place where communities can participate in sport and also be able to attend major sporting and cultural events. To do that we also need a stadium and everything that it offers.”

David also defended his capacity to deliver for Canberra as an Independent.

“Senator Seselja and his colleagues do not have a good track record when it comes to delivering on their promises,” David said.

“Failing to set up a federal anti-corruption commission like they promised to do at the last election is just one example.

“By contrast, Independents have shown very clearly over the last few terms of parliament their capacity to get results on behalf of the communities they represent.

“Senator Lambie negotiating to waive her state’s entire public housing debt is a case in point.

“It’s hard not to feel for Senator Seselja - there seems very little interest from the federal government in investing meaningfully in Canberra beyond road upgrades. The ACT has been a safe Labor town with one Liberal senator. We need to change that to bring the kind of focus, ambition and investment required to ensure our growing capital city isn’t left behind.”

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