Nearly two years after the facility was mothballed, ACT Senate candidate David Pocock welcomed the election eve commitment to finally fund the long overdue rehabilitation of the Australian Institute of Sport’s Arena.
The community-endorsed Independent said the funding announced today was the first time the federally owned facility has had any serious money spent on it since 2016.
“For nearly two years now – almost an entire term of federal parliament – the Federal Government has sat on its hands leaving Canberra without a major indoor venue,” David said.
“It’s taken the threat of potentially losing what has, until now, been considered a ‘safe’ Senate seat here in the ACT to see funding for this project suddenly appear.
“Senator Seselja claiming today that ‘two years ago this wasn’t on the agenda’ is an outright falsehood.
“The Federal Government commissioned a $2m business case for the redevelopment of the AIS prior to the last federal election.
“While delighted for our community that this much-needed rehabilitation to the AIS Arena will finally go ahead, I am sorry for our UC Capitals that it comes too late for their finals season this year.
“I also note the opportunities that have been lost as we move back to hosting large gatherings to bring much needed revenue into our local economy due to the arena being out of action for concerts and other major events.
“The argument that there was no need to upgrade the AIS Arena as there were no major events during Covid lockdowns points to the lack of vision and forward thinking. We should have used that period to do repairs and be in a position to reopen for the UC Capitals season and other events.
“Sadly this announcement is typical of the politics as usual that people are so tired of.
“It begs the question, why do we have to wait for an election to be called in order to get any attention from our politicians?
“Where is the vision for our city? Where are the plans to address the big issues we face?
“While welcome, today’s small step in support of the AIS Arena doesn’t come close to making up for decades of neglect.
“That’s why I am running, so our community has someone in federal parliament standing up for them every single day and thinking further ahead than just the next election.
“In last month’s federal budget, we saw the ACT finish in last place for infrastructure investment once again with just 0.3% of the total national spend.
“The community expects, and deserves, much more from Senator Seselja and the Federal Government when it comes to investment in the ACT.”