Stuart Ayres has denied claims the budget for Parramatta’s redeveloped stadium has already blown out by $60 million in six months, despite admitting otherwise in state parliament.
In March, the Western Sydney and Sports Minister told parliament the new stadium was running on time and the costs were “within $300 million” after he was questioned by opposition sports spokeswoman Lynda Voltz. It was a different story during budget estimates last week, when he was quizzed again about the cost of stadium currently under construction.
“The allocated budget for Parramatta Stadium is $360 million. Its forecast opening date is in late April-early May 2019,” was his response.
Mr Ayres came under further fire after he said only four assets would be upgraded under the $1.6 billion stadium strategy but couldn’t say which four out of the six assets would receive funding.
He wouldn’t commit to bringing all tiers of seating closer in a rectangular reconfiguration nor to put a roof on ANZ Stadium if it received an upgrade, despite committing to it with former Premier Mike Baird in April 2016.
Ms Voltz described the stadium strategy as a shambles.
“The NSW government’s stadium strategy has become a long running joke in the Sydney sports industry,” she said. “Every week there is a conflicting announcement from the government. Major sports are none the wiser, nearly three years after the initial announcement, as to what the Berejiklian government’s plan actually is. This inability to bring in a project on time and on budget is symptomatic of the Berejiklian government and consistent with the minister’s bungled handling of the NSW government stadium strategy.”
Last Friday, Mr Ayres denied Ms Voltz’s claims.
"This information from Labor is wrong. Western Sydney Stadium is on time and within budget,” he said.
Ms Voltz has since hit back.
“Either the minister is attempting to be obtuse or he has a complete disregard for taxpayers money. Both are probably correct,” she said.
“Either way, the minister’s own answers to questions from the Labor Opposition speak for themselves. This was the same minister who for six months denied they were ripping up Parramatta War Memorial Pool even though their own plans showed it to be the case, and who started warbling on about the M7 and M2 when asked about his reintroduction of tolls on the M4, the second Liberal Government to introduce tolls on this public road. The Berejiklian government’s ability to recklessly spend public funds would leave most drunken sailors to shame. Budgets blowing out are a common occurrence under this government who seem to exhibit an inability to bring projects in either on time or in budget.”