Gladys Berejiklian dumps $800m project

The controversial $800 million redevelopment of ANZ Stadium in Sydney’s west has been abandoned, as the New South Wales Government shifts its priorities to infrastructure projects that deliver more bang for buck.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian today confirmed the contentious project, which was a key election commitment and part of a broader $2 billion plan for stadiums in the state’s capital, has been dumped.

Allianz Stadium in Moore Park has been demolished – works began during the election campaign – but the mammoth rebuild has been plagued by issues, including cost blowouts and a contract dispute.

The savings from scrapping the ANZ Stadium redevelopment will be diverted to a new Infrastructure and Job Acceleration Fund, worth about $3 billion and bringing the total pipeline spend to $100 billion, in a bid to help the NSW economy recover from the coronavirus crisis.

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It will prioritise smaller, shovel-ready projects across the state and create up to 20,000 new jobs, Ms Berejiklian said.

“This guaranteed pipeline of $100 billion will be our best chance supporting the hundreds of thousands of people who have already lost their jobs in NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We are now not only guaranteeing our infrastructure pipeline, we will be looking for opportunities to fast-track projects to provide jobs as early as we can.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro insisted the ANZ Stadium redevelopment “was a sensible project backed by the people of NSW at last year’s election”.

But in the uncertain economic climate, it “no longer makes sense”.

Although for many, including high-profile opponent Peter FitzSimons, the stadium projects didn’t make sense to begin with.

The plan sparked furious community debate and a vocal campaign to spend the money on more worthy projects. One petition said the venues were “perfectly fine sports stadiums” and there was “zero demand” to replace either.

“We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on building facilities for Sports Big Business, while community sport withers on the vine for lack of facilities and resources,” the petitioner wrote.

“Our money could be better spent with the likes of 100 X $10 million projects being funded across the state, so towns, suburbs and regions could see a thousand fields, pools, courts and arenas bloom, doing something for the wider people of NSW and not merely the tiny percentage involved in elite sport.”

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Another controversial project – moving the Powerhouse Museum from the city to Parramatta – will go ahead, he said.

Mr Barilaro said the project would create 1100 construction jobs and 2400 indirect jobs, as well as keeping hundreds of people employed when it opened.

Job losses due to the coronavirus crisis have been significant in NSW and Mr Barilaro said the government was in the process of identifying projects to fast-track, to support employment and build communities.

“The communities of NSW have been through an incredibly tough period with continued drought, horrific bushfires and now COVID-19, and the best path to recovery is creating jobs,” he said.

“An unprecedented crisis calls for an unprecedented recovery and redirecting funding from Stadium Australia to job-creating infrastructure builds is the right thing to do for the people of NSW.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said some 500,000 people in the state are out of work and the “clear advice” from the Reserve Bank of Australia was that governments should do everything they can to stimulate the economy.

“NSW was an infrastructure led economy heading in to the pandemic, and now we will help drive the state forward by creating more jobs for the people who have been hit hardest with an infrastructure led recovery coming out,” he said.

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