Darling St Oval

Newcastle has missed out on funding for sporting upgrades in Hamilton South in two scandal-ridden Morrison Government programs – this is despite the fact the project was deemed worthy of funding by an independent assessment.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said Newcastle Olympic Football Club applied unsuccessfully for Federal funding under the Community Soprt Infrastructure program of “sports rorts” infamy.

“The proposed project would take the Darling Street oval to the next level with a brand-new grandstand and refreshed facilities,” Ms Claydon said. 

“Once completed, the facilities would offer year-round use across the community and bring the ageing facilities up to spec for National Premiere League and FFA Cup competitions. 

“The Club requested $500,000 in Federal funding to supplement a $500,000 commitment from the City of Newcastle and $200,000 from the Club’s own fundraising efforts.”

Ms Claydon said that despite having strong community support, the Newcastle Olympic Football Club application was bypassed for less worthy projects.

“Newcastle Olympic Football Club has since learnt from the ABC that the Darling Street project scored highly with a rating of 76% in the independent analysis undertaken by Sports Australia. This is comfortably more than the 74% that would have been required to secure funding if the grants been decided on merit,” Ms Claydon said.

“The Morrison Government shamelessly used this publicly funded grants program as its own personal election slush fund, ignoring independent advice and awarding grants to Coalition-targeted seats rather than projects based on merit.”

The Club also applied unsuccessfully for a Federal Government grant under the Building Better Regions Fund, despite Ms Claydon writing a personal endorsement of the project to the Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.

“Regretfully, it seems this program was also an exercise in blatant pork barrelling. Indeed , we recently learnt that a staggering 94% of Building Better regions funding was funnelled to Coalition-held or Coalition-targeted seats,” Ms Claydon said.

“This is a government that repeatedly thumbs its nose at due process, fairness and integrity.”

Ms Claydon said the Morrison Government’s mismanagement of multiple grants programs was deeply disrespectful to hard-working community organisations.

“We already know that close to half the projects that were approved under this appalling sports rorts program weren’t even eligible, while deserving projects like the Darling Street redevelopment didn’t get a cent,” Ms Claydon said.

“This is a shameful betrayal of trust of the thousands of people in community sporting organisations across the country that toiled for days – if not weeks or months – filling out these grant applications in good faith.”

Ms Claydon said she had written to the Prime Minister to request that the Government deliver the Darling Street project funding in line with its obvious merit. 

“I’ve called on the Prime Minister to review the dodgy decisions of his Government and deliver this deserved funding to the Newcastle Olympic Football Club.” 

source: Sharon Claydon MP Federal Member for Newcastle

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