Media Releases & Transcripts

Groom By-Election Doorstop

November 23, 2020








CHRIS MEIBUSCH LABOR’S CANDIDATE FOR GROOM: Here we are at Nell E Robinson netball courts here in South Toowoomba. And this is a quiet morning here for these courts, usually on Saturday mornings. We have thousands of young girls playing netball here. And it's been a marvellous facility in our community for nigh on 20 years but clearly overdue for a refurbishment program. And we know from the work of the Senate Committee on the administration of the sports grants in the Federal Parliament, that this complex here was the subject of a sports grants application by the Toowoomba Regional Council over the last couple of years, fortunately, today, I have the chair of the Senate Committee, Senator Anthony Chisholm, to give some detail as to the nature of the applications that were made from the Toowoomba region towards the sports grants program. This complex in particular, as I've said, needs refurbishment, and the Toowoomba Council made an application to that program for funding for the refurbishment. They sought a $500,000 of Federal Government funding to undertake resurfacing of these courts and also the facilities of the Toowoomba Netball Association. I understand part of the administration that all the projects from around Australia were assessed as to the viability and given a ranking out of 100. And I understand from Senator Chisholm that this project, in particular, from the Toowoomba Regional Council rated and received the rating of 85.5 out of 100. And the Federal Government's assessment of those programs was to fund programs and applications that scored over 74. In in that assessment. So clearly, this application warranted funding from the Federal Government under the criteria, but unfortunately, it did not receive the funding under that grant program, and in fact, that most of that Federal Government funding went to marginal seats, other marginal seats around Australia, and so, and other community groups, and many of those community groups, their applications were significantly lower than the 74 out of 100 that the Federal Government identified as being the pass mark for funding of these of these programs. So now I pass to Senator Anthony Chisholm, to make the announcement in relation to what the Labor Party proposes for this byelection in relation to this wonderful facility here in South Toowoomba.


SENATOR ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Thanks, Chris. And it's great to be here with you, and congratulations on the job you're doing as our Labor candidate for Groom. as Chris mentioned, I have been the chair of the sports rorts inquiry this year. And one of the things we've been doing is going around to communities right across Australia, and hearing from those clubs and councils that applied for grants but missed out. What we know is that this council applied on behalf of these courts here for $500,000. In funding, they scored 85.5 as meritoriously audited by Sports Australia and they missed out on funding. What we know is that the LNP, focused on providing funds to marginal seats in Melbourne, in Sydney, at the expense of electorates like these. And I think it is a great example of how the LNP take Groom for granted, the fact that this area has scored so highly meritoriously. But they actually gave funding to other clubs and groups that scored as low as 39 out of 100. So that just shows you how they take this area for granted. And they don't actually deliver for Groom residents. What we also know is that Labor have committed to funding all those clubs and groups that missed out above that score of 74. We know that this application was in the top 30 of those that missed out. And that's why Labor are proud to announce that we would fund the $500,000 to upgrade these courts and make a difference. What we wanted to do is challenge the LNP to actually match this commitment. We've obviously got another five days until Election Day, and we say to the LNP, step up, you can no longer afford to dud these clubs that put in their meritorious application, scored highly and look around us these deserve to be funded. Just like clubs were in Sydney and Melbourne at the expense of this organization. So, we call on the LNP. We know the Deputy Prime Minister is in town today. It his party that was responsible for these rorts. We call on him to come here, fund this club, make the announcement so that this netball club can continue to be a hub for activities through the week, and particularly on Saturdays for so many people in Toowoomba and surrounding areas. happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST:  (Inaudible Inland Rail Question) 


CHISHOLM: Look, this will be the third time I've visited with those impacted farmers over the last couple of years. Again, it's just another sign of how the arrogant LNP treat local residents, they refuse to listen to them. They refuse to take on board their concerns. And it is disappointing again, that the Deputy Prime Minister was in town, he gave them short shrift. That's not the Labor way, with Chris, he will listen to those residents, will fight on their behalf and the Senate Inquiry that I've been a participating member in, we take that really seriously because it's an opportunity for us to put across their views, so that everyone across Australia can understand how they are being impacted by the LNPs failure to listen on Inland Rail.


JOURNALIST:  (Inaudible Inland Rail Question) 


CHISHOLM: Oh look, I think that there has been a level of arrogance from the ARTC. But that's born straight out of Government. If the Government wanted them to listen, they could encourage them and tell them they need to listen to these local residents. And we don't see a willingness from the senior leaders of the Government and the Deputy Prime Minister and other National Party Members that they actually want to listen to these local residents and take on board their concerns. So, it is something that Labor aren't going to let go away, as the Chair of the inquiry Senator Glenn Sterle, and I will be again in Toowoomba tomorrow. And we'll be listening to those local residents and will continue to advocate on their behalf.


JOURNALIST:  Can it go ahead, given the flooding concerns?


CHISHOLM: Well, look, it's obviously up for the Government and the ARTC to listen, but you only have to go there and see it for yourself. I hear the compelling case that they put, to know that this is something that needs to be taken seriously. And they absolutely need to be looking at what other options are available.


JOURNALIST:  What do you think it says that this is today, this announcement here about the Netball Association and the club houses. The first money on the table promise for the byelection which has been known about for months now


CHISHOLM: Look that just again shows you how arrogant the LNP are, they take this seat for granted and with Chris Meibusch as the candidate we're not going to let the LNP get away with that. So, our challenge to them is between now and Election Day, they need to stump up the funding. They dudded the council they dudded this club, you can only look at it to know that it needs an upgrade. They scored meritoriously 85.5 well above the threshold but were dudded for other clubs in other parts of the country that scored as low as 39. So, it isn't good enough. And it is an opportunity on this by election. People have to send a message about how arrogant they are and how much they take this area for granted.


MEIBUSCH: Could I just add there that this Inland Rail position mirrors what Toowoomba has experienced with the save mount lofty campaign, a failure of the Federal Government to consult and when they do a cursory drive by they don't listen to the community the clear community messages that there are concerns that need to be addressed. And with save mount lofty, with Inland Rail and with this application, the Federal Government weren't listening to the community here in Toowoomba.


JOURNALIST:  I pretty much put the same question to you as well about the fact that this is the first money on the table.


MEIBUSCH: Well, you know, you've all heard my campaign here. It's about a fair go for Groom and the crux of that is, is that as a safe LNP seat for too long, we are just not getting the funding that this community deserves. If you look at communities around Australia, where there are marginal seats there you'll see that there's a lot of discretionary funding that is going to netball courts, that is going to rowing clubs in Sydney and not coming to regional Queensland where we need to be listened to, and that will come with Groom being a marginal seat after Saturday


JOURNALIST:  Senator before the State Election, the State Government, put $40 million on the table to the Wagner family to help build a giant Wellcamp Entertainment precinct out near Wellcamp Airport. The Wagner’s have put in almost $100 million of their own money into the project and have called on the Federal Government to stump up the remaining $40 million for the project. So, $40 million from the state $40 million from the feds. Is that a project that Federal Labor supports?


CHISHOLM: Look, it is one that I've been made aware of through the State Government and one that I have been meaning to meet with the Wagner family about to get a briefing on. I understand it's an exciting proposal for Toowoomba and surrounding areas in terms of being able to bring jobs, future industry and development to the area. So, it is one that is exciting and is one that I'd be willing to listen to them on and learn more about so that we can continue to advocate for this region and bring important projects to this town.