MOUNT Gambier should be included in any bid by the State Government to attract the Commonwealth Games to South Australia, independent MP Troy Bell says.
Mr Bell said the investigation into attracting the Commonwealth Games provided the Limestone Coast with a unique opportunity to capitalise on potential infrastructure and tourism benefits the international event could generate.
The Marshall Government has launched a feasibility study into the prospect of Adelaide hosting the Commonwealth Games, including potential economic gains, job creation and social benefits.
The feasibility study will be compiled by the Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing and is expected to be completed later this year.
Mr Bell said the proposed $40m sport and recreation hub provided a compelling case to mount a bid to see some events held in the Limestone Coast.
He said the sporting facility, which is expected to be funded in part by the State Government, could be a catalyst for government to deliver new infrastructure and boost existing facilities.
“Hosting the Commonwealth Games will mean the State Government will have to spend tens of millions of dollars,” Mr Bell said.
“That is okay if it goes into infrastructure the South East community will benefit from.
“We need to position ourselves to make sure any bid that includes the region gets some of those tens of millions of dollars.
“We need legacy infrastructure that comes out of the government spending millions of dollars, whether it is an upgrade of Vansittart Park, or our hockey facilities or our tennis.
“As South Australia’s second largest city, we need to be a benefactor of this and we need to be proactive.”
Mr Bell called for the establishment of a committee to put a case to the South Australian Government for staging events in the Limestone Coast.
“We need to be a benefactor of attracting those games to South Australia and the first thing we need to do is get the community together,” he said.
“We cannot just sit back and wait, we need to formulate a plan, work with the State Government and make sure we will be in line for some of that infrastructure spend and tourism opportunities.”
Mount Gambier City Council interim chief executive Graeme Maxwell said council was open to any discussion about how the community and the use of council’s facilities could support a Commonwealth Games bid. Sport Minister Corey Wingard said the feasibility study would examine “opportunities for the entire state.
He said a decision to sign on as a potential candidate destination would be based on whether hosting the games would provided “an economic boost and create legacy projects which will benefit our state in the long-term future”. Commonwealth Games Federation president Ben Houston said South Australia had a “head start” in their bid to host the games.
“We will continue working with the states and cities interested in hosting the games in Australia before any decision is made on who a preferred candidate and final bidder will be,” he said. The federation is expected to announce the host of the 2026 games in May 2020.
While the feasibility study will be considered in the context of 2026, it will also give insight into potential bids for the 2030 and 2034 games.
South Australia is the nation’s only mainland state to have never hosted the games.