The Federal Labor Party last week committed $15 million for the second stage of the Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct.

By Colin MacGillivray

MACEDON Ranges sporting groups are overjoyed at news the Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct will be built regardless of who wins next month’s federal election.

Last week, Labor Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell and Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure Andrew Giles visited New Gisborne to announce a Labor pledge of $15 million for the second stage of the precinct ahead of the election.

On Sunday, Liberal candidate for McEwen Richard Welch announced the Federal Government would match the $15 million commitment, meaning the project’s future is secure.

Construction on stage one of the precinct is set to begin next month, with the State Government having already committed a total of $14.8 million to the project, while Macedon Ranges Shire Council has pledged about $10 million of its own money.

A further commitment of $5 million is required from the State Government to complete the second stage of the project.

The precinct is a planned 15-hectare regional park with a range of sports and recreation facilities.

Stage one of the project will consist of a three-court sports hub, a natural turf oval and sports pavilion, passive recreation facilities, landscaping and associated infrastructure.

Stage two will see the construction of three additional sports hub courts, a function room, additional car parking, a practice oval, outdoor multi-sport courts, additional sports pavilion amenities and further landscaping.

Long-term advocate and former Macedon Ranges basketball administrator Megan Condron said it was ‘incredible’ to receive the funding.

“For us it’s about having a home and giving our juniors a choice, so they don’t have to make decisions based on whether or not their parents are able to drive them out of the region,” she said.

“For female inclusion and having the choice to play sport, this is especially relevant, and that’s my passion. Every girl I turned away [in the past] just broke my heart. Once you’re on the ground living it, it’s pretty easy to get motivated.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council Mayor Jennifer Anderson described the announcements as a win for the community and said council would continue to advocate for the project.

“We know our community sporting facilities are chockers and we really need to get more indoor and outdoor spaces for those activities,” she said.

“The sooner we can get it done the better, and this commitment of funding makes it so much easier to start doing the rest of the advocacy and working on getting the project completed.”

On Sunday, Liberal candidate for McEwen Richard Welch announced the Coalition’s commitment of $15 million to build Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct in Gisborne.

Mr Mitchell was also enthusiastic about the benefits the project would bring but questioned the timing of the government’s announcement, noting money for the project had not been allocated in last month’s Federal Budget.

“The government has steadfastly ignored for the best part of a decade now excellent grant applications from the shire; constant lobbying from me on behalf of the local community; and undisputed, widespread community, council and state government support the project,” he said.

“The government handed down a budget last sitting week which did not include [the precinct]. Why wasn’t this announced as a specific project in the budget? Why has it taken nine years for the government to recognise the worth of this project? And why have they only decided to make promises once they need to garner favour?”

Mr Welch said the project would end long drives out of the region for Macedon Ranges parents.

“This announcement is the final piece of the puzzle in a decade of advocacy. It means that the community can take great pride in the work they have done because the Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct has been given the funding it needs,” he said.

“Sport is a huge part of my life and that is why I am so happy that we have been able to help deliver this project. Sport is much more than a game. It is an opportunity for kids to develop connections and real-life skills.”

More information about the sports precinct and its progress is available at mrsc.vic.gov.au/sports-precinct.

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