Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan): I also rise to speak on the motion moved by Ms Fitzherbert, and I indicate that the government will not oppose the motion, consistent with our position on providing documents when the house seeks that the government provide documents in relation to projects and various other matters of public interest. As Mr Leane said in his contribution on the previous motion, this government has been more than flexible and helpful and prepared to bend over backwards to provide information to opposition members every time a motion has been moved to seek documents. That is in contrast to the record of the opposition when they were in government in the last term where every single motion calling for documents moved in the house was opposed by the then Liberal-Nationals government. The Labor government, when asked to provide documentation in relation to various projects, do oblige. It has become a practice where a member will have a question about a matter — and I think Ms Fitzherbert in her contribution said there have been communications between herself and the government in relation to this matter, and that is her right to do so, and I appreciate her interest in this matter — that information will come through.

I was trying to find the silver bullet in this motion, and I will hear from Ms Fitzherbert as to whether or not there is a lease or a sale of assets, but my understanding is that it is a lease. I stand to be corrected. I am sure the minister will formally respond after the motion is carried in this house and the information will be supplied to the member.

I just want to take a bit of time to look at what we are talking about here. I am a bit confused about the coalition’s approach to investment in sport. On the one hand they are criticising the Andrews Labor government in relation to our significant investment in sport in Victoria. We know that the state of Victoria is the major capital of sporting events in Australia. We have world-class facilities, which are needed to attract the best-of-the-best events. Cricket is one of them. We have known for years that Cricket Victoria has been looking to find a home to grow the sport, to nurture their players, to field teams to compete in the national competition and to provide an avenue that is well placed for our young and next best cricketers to play for the Australian team. We all know that the Australian team these days need help to get back onto the winners list. One of the ways of getting back onto the winners list is to invest in sport from the grassroots, not just community cricket but also state cricket, because the state team is where the membership of the Australian team will come from. That is where good cricketers get identified. That is why we make no apology for investing in sport and investing in cricket, because cricket has become one of the fast-growing games. Many kids are taking up that game.

I will go through the various investments the Andrews Labor government is putting into cricket. I think Ms Fitzherbert touched on the AFL as well, and I will come to that too. Aside from the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Victorian Cricket and Community Centre is the only Victorian ground that is fully compliant with International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations to host first-class cricket matches. Even in the last Parliament the then government spent a fair bit of time talking about the redevelopment of Junction Oval. It was just talk about what they were going to do with it. So this topic is not new. The Labor Party made an election commitment that it was actually going to do something about it and get it done.

Ms Crozier — So did we.

Mr MELHEM — You did; you are right. You did talk about it but we delivered it. We actually did it. You talked about it. I was here; I was in this Parliament. You were just talking about it, but we actually did it. That is the contrast between the Liberal-Nationals and the Labor Party. We do not just talk about things, we do things. We deliver things; we get things done. That is why $25 million was invested, and Cricket Victoria, to their credit, put in $15 million. If you tally that up, there was $40 million to redevelop Junction Oval and it is now a state-of-the-art facility that is compliant with international standards so our state teams and everybody else can play there. And it is fair enough. An organisation like Cricket Victoria will say, ‘Okay, we’re going to put in $15 million. Thank you for your $25 million. We would like some long-term arrangement. We want to be able to call this place home’. To me there is nothing unusual about putting it together and giving them a lease, even a long-term lease, to make sure that it is their home now and it is going to focus on delivering cricket.

I am just looking at an article from the Herald Sun, and I do not read the newspaper very often. It talks about Victorian cricket being just three months away — that was before the opening in March this year, so it goes back to December last year. The first paragraph states:

Victorian cricket is just three months away from officially opening its $40.8 million weapon in the fight to keep the best talent out of the clutches of the AFL, and flood the national teams with Bushrangers.

I think that is an excellent opening from the Herald Sun. It is the most read newspaper in Victoria in comparison with its counterpart, the Age. It is basically giving a description of how important that development is for Melbourne and Victoria. It goes on:

More than a decade after the idea was first generated, the redeveloped Junction Oval will begin hosting training sessions for Big Bash teams the Stars and Renegades in late January before the first ball is bowled in a Sheffield Shield game on 3 March.

It has some great pictures about how wonderful the facility is and says it boasts 56 new indoor and outdoor practice wickets, male and female change rooms, a huge gym, three recovery pools and medical suites that cater for every player need. It further states:

One heritage-listed grandstand has also been totally redeveloped, with the second to be done at a later date, and along with the open areas the Junction could easily accommodate around 2000 fans.

Basically it is not a question about whether the redevelopment was needed. Let us all agree on that, and I think we all do agree. The only difference is that we made it happen and the previous government did little more than just talk about it.

The redevelopment of Junction Oval will see a new administration facility, high-performance facilities and accommodation facilities to host visiting cricketers from country areas, and the redeveloped oval will be used by cricket all year round. Also there are broadcasting facilities and other requirements to meet Cricket Australia’s standards for first-class cricket venues.

The facility will also cater for community cricket, including the current tenant, St Kilda Cricket Club. The redeveloped grandstand, which I talked about earlier, will host Cricket Victoria’s community cricket programs, including its successful Harmony in Cricket programs. This is not just about being a headquarters for Cricket Victoria. It has actually become the hub and the home of cricket — apart from the MCG, which is a national icon and is basically the home of Cricket Australia for our major games and the AFL. At least now cricket in Victoria will have its own dedicated home. We believe that investment was very worthwhile.

It is important that the Andrews Labor government continues to invest in community cricket facilities. Since 2014 the Victorian government has invested $31.7 million towards 165 community facilities across the state, ensuring cricketers have access to high-quality infrastructure and development opportunities, including the community cricket program, so we are talking about investing in not just Cricket Victoria and the organisation itself. It is very important that we actually invest in community sports programs, in this case community cricket, because without investing in community cricket at the local level there is no point just investing at the state and federal level. A $10 million election commitment to the community cricket program from the government’s $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Fund was made by the government at the 2014 election, and Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia confirmed the additional commitment of $1.2 million each, totalling $12.4 million, towards the program.

Councils are also eligible to access funding toward cricket infrastructure projects through the Community Sports Infrastructure Fund for grants of up to $100 000 per project. Since 2014 the community cricket program has supported a total of 72 infrastructure projects through the Community Sports Infrastructure Fund, with a total project value of $22.9 million. It is very important to note that these include approval of funding towards the development of three regional cricket hubs in Ballarat, Wodonga and Hamilton. Again, that shows that you do not just look at finding a home for Cricket Victoria in Melbourne but that it is important to actually invest in the major hubs in regional Victoria.

Through the partnership with the local government authorities cricket clubs can continue to access funding to develop new or upgrade existing cricket facilities through the major facility or minor facility category of the Community Sports Infrastructure Fund and the $15 million Female Friendly Facilities Fund. That is the other thing. We are investing in female sport and have created a female fund so we can encourage our females to play a major role in cricket. We know the Victorian and Australian female cricket teams are doing extremely well. They are competing very well at the national end and on the world stage, and in some cases they are putting our men’s teams to shame. That is why I think it is very important that as a government we continue to invest in female sport. I will come back to the investment in the AFL Women’s (AFLW) league, which I believe has taken off like there is no tomorrow.

It is a wonderful thing to encourage all our citizens, male and female, and our own kids to be active and to play sport. In order to do that you need to invest. You need to give certainty to organisations that are actually sponsoring these sports so that they are able to plan forward and are able to invest in resources and infrastructure to make sure that they deliver the service. In this case it was very important that the Victorian government invested in a state-of-the-art facility at Junction Oval. That investment will assist in making sure that Cricket Victoria can do its job to promote the game, to promote our kids and to give them the best chance to play sport. Hopefully some of them will make it onto the state team or the national team and play on the world stage. That is why we make no apology for encouraging sports in Victoria.

Regarding the recent investment in the AFL, I think Ms Fitzherbert talked about Docklands. We are investing in redeveloping Docklands to make it better and bigger so that we are able to attract more people to participate in sport and attract more visitors, and also to secure the AFL Grand Final for Victoria until 2056 — I need to check the date, but I think it is for the next 30 or 40 years. That is a great outcome. Ms Fitzherbert talked about the Docklands redevelopment probably being part of the future of hosting the Brownlow Medal events. I reckon that is a great event as well, and we should keep that in Melbourne instead of pissing it off to the Gold Coast, Sydney or another state that decides it wants to claim it. I think it is all about Victoria’s trademark of being a major events centre for sport. We are the sports capital of this country. We should invest and continue to invest. The return is there.

Let me talk about some of the funding that the Andrews Labor government has provided for many cricket events across the state, from international events to all-abilities championships: the 2015 national All Abilities Championships at suburban grounds across Melbourne; the Geelong Carnival of Cricket at Simonds Stadium in Geelong; the 33rd National Blind Cricket Championship at Princes Park and Fawkner Park; the National Disability Cricket Championships from 2016 to 2019 at various venues in Geelong; the 2017 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League in Bendigo; a Big Bash League double-header at Simonds Stadium in Geelong; a T20 international cricket double-header at Simonds Stadium in Geelong; the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015; and the ICC World Cup T20, including games hosted at the Junction Oval.

We made our election commitment and we have delivered on it. The Junction Oval was redeveloped and a partnership was forged with Cricket Victoria to encourage the sport, to grow the sport and to get more events into Victoria. It is a $25 million investment by the Andrews Labor government, which was matched by $15 million from Cricket Victoria, to deliver great outcomes and to encourage people to come to Victoria and have more events in Victoria.

In the 2018–19 budget we kicked in $484.4 million plus a new $100 million community sport loan scheme. This is the biggest-ever investment in women’s and community sport. I think Ms Fitzherbert talked about community sport, and I agree with her that we need to do more in that space. That is why we are putting in these investments: to make sure local sport is given a chance and that our kids are able to kick a footy at the oval and participate in junior sport. Whether it is AFL, whether it is soccer or whether it is cricket, I think it is very important that we provide that facility, and the 2018–19 budget investment of $484 million provides that.

I was talking earlier about our investments. The arrangement with the AFL is to keep the grand final at the MCG until at least 2057, so I was out by one year — it is not 2056, it is 2057. Also the AFLW package that the Victorian government provided for sport and recreation will be a game changer. It not only addresses the sport and recreation needs of our community but it maintains Victoria’s pre-eminent position as the ultimate sport capital. The list goes on and on.

When I was reading the motion I thought there must be something hidden in it. The opposition is looking for a silver bullet or a shifty deal that has been put in place for the Junction Oval. They think there is something untoward about our policy. I have not heard anything to lead to that conclusion, so I am struggling with that idea.

The government’s investments in sports facilities are not just for the Junction Oval. I will go through some of the others. We have invested over $750 million in major stadium facilities around Victoria, including $75 million for stage 4 of Kardinia Park; $62 million for the State Netball Hockey Centre; $271 million for stage 3 of the Melbourne and Olympic parks precinct; $15 million for the Eureka Stadium redevelopment; $25 million for the Junction Oval redevelopment, and I have talked about that; $225 million for the Etihad Stadium redevelopment, which is coming up; $12 million for Moorabbin Oval stage 1; $10 million for the Victorian home of golf and national high performance centre; and the business case for the completion of Eureka Stadium, stage 5 of Kardinia Park and the Knox Basketball Stadium redevelopment.

The Andrews Labor government investment in sport is unmatched by any other state, and the reason for that is that, as I said earlier, we are the major events city, we are the major events state, we are the sports capital of Australia, and we want to keep it that way. We want to encourage organisations like Cricket Victoria to invest in Victoria and to invest in first-grade cricket, and that is why we have partnered with them at Junction Oval. That is why we were happy to give them a lease — to make sure they can call that oval home for many, many, many years to come, and so the community can enjoy first-grade cricket in Victoria. Our kids can actually dream that they will be able to go and train at a first-grade facility and make it to the state team and hopefully to the national team. That is something we are proud of. We are proud of what we have achieved in the sports space.

With these comments, I want to commend the Premier on his leadership in relation to sport and I also want to commend the Minister for Sport, John Eren, on what he has done in relation to major events and sport. I want to congratulate both of them on the good effort they have put in. I am proud to call myself Victorian. We are the capital of sports and major events, and we want to keep it that way — unlike the other side, who just talk about it.

20 June 2018