The Mackay Gymnastics club can’t possibly compete with the mighty Geelong Football Club.
Not because Geelong has a leagues club, thousands of members and more poker machine revenue than a full forward can jump over.
According to Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen, Mackay Gymnastics can’t compete with Geelong for nothing more than political reasons and had to watch $10million go to the Cats while Mackay missed out completely.
“Mackay has always produced more than our fair share of top gymnasts and we now have an international and three national gold medalists,” he said.
“But those athletes are training in facilities limited to what you can fund with chook raffles and their application for funding under the Regional Development Australia Funding was rejected.
“In contrast, the Geelong Football Club picked up a cool $10million to upgrade their home ground, Skilled Stadium, which already seats 28,300 people.
The Mackay Gymnastics Club is forced to train in what was described in a recent Daily Mercury editorial as a “crap tin shed”.
An article in the Daily Mercury on September 15 highlighted local gymnast Claire Black, who is currently competing in South Africa, and how she was forced to open shed doors and start her run up on a plank of wood for the high bars.
“Mackay should be proud of their local gymnastics club and the quality athletes it can produce with such primitive facilities,” Mr Christensen said.
“But the Labor Government should hang its head for rejecting their application.”
No applications from the Dawson electorate were successful in Round One of the RDAF, which distributed $150million to 35 projects in regional areas.
The federal Labor-held seat of Corio, based in Geelong, had a windfall, allocated $10million for the Geelong Football Club and another $10million for the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre.
Labor has granted almost two-thirds of the regional development funds to Labor electorates, even though they make up just over one third of the electorates in regional Australia.
“It’s another case of being able to buy more votes to shore up Labor support in Geelong,” Mr Christensen said.
“The Mackay Gymnastics Club application met all the criteria but were advised that the other projects had a stronger case for funding.
“The problem is that stronger case is all about pork barreling and nothing to do with developing the regions.
“Regional centres like Mackay are the powerhouse of this economy but they will never get the funding they deserve under a Labor Government – even a Labor Government on track to rack up a record debt of $107billion (in the middle of a mining boom).”
Independent Andrew Wilkie (whose support is critical to Prime Minister Julia Gillard retaining power) has two projects funded in his electorate of Denison, including $2.32million for an art sculpture park and $4.31million for a paediatric centre of excellence.
Other projects to win funding over Mackay/Whitsunday bids include $7million for an art gallery in Newcastle, $4.9million for a new Aboriginal Land Council office in Western Australia, and $12.3million for a theatre in Bendigo.