NSW Liberals revolt against $2.5 billion stadium pork

By Leith van Onselen

I’ve noted previously how the NSW State Government has hit ‘peak stupid’ in deciding to spend $2.5 billion to demolish and rebuild the Olympic Stadium and the Sydney Football Stadium, both of which are underutilised.

To make matters even worse, stadiums rebuild is to be funded by proceeds from selling-off the lease the state’s monopoly land titles registry to Hastings Funds Management and First State Super – a move that will very likely see end-users being gouged by the new monopoly owners, with the NSW State Government also losing a reliable income stream.

Now, state MPs have revolted against the stadiums rebuild, labeling it “political poison”. From The ABC:

“I have not had an issue that has boiled up as much as stadia.”

That’s the worried assessment of one unhappy minister in the Berejiklian Government about its $2.5 billion plan to rebuild the Sydney Football and Homebush stadiums.

The proposal has been met with widespread dismay in and out of Parliament.

Anxious ministers won’t speak on the record but they clearly believe the longer the Coalition sticks with the policy the more votes will be lost.

Since December those ministers and plenty of backbenchers have been privately telling journalists just how bad the reaction has been.

“It will kill us,” said one.

“It’s political poison,” offered another.

A senior minister told the ABC this week: “I’m very concerned. This can’t be explained away … I cannot believe it.”

Another said “I’ve had hundreds of emails about our stadia plan. You thought greyhounds was bad, it’s nowhere near this”.

…disappointment within the Government began when the decision was “rammed through” in secrecy by Cabinet.

Despite the growing resentment in Coalition ranks there’s no hint from the Premier that the policy might be ditched.

In a heated exchange with reporters last week Gladys Berejiklian insisted: “That is our policy”…

Stick with it and she faces a growing perception that the Government has become arrogant and deaf to the community.

When I first discussed this issue, I labeled it a textbook example of the broken window fallacy in economics: akin to digging holes just to fill them up again. While the projects might create jobs and increase GDP directly, they will cost taxpayers a huge sum, won’t boost productivity, and will do nothing to raise living standards.

With Sydney suffering from chronic congestion and infrastructure bottlenecks, hosing $2.5 billion on dud projects like this makes as much sense as punching yourself in the face.

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  1. What would be the motive for these constructions? Who is getting the benefit or who will eventually get a benefit once they’ve left politics? Answers to these questions should help all see why this is (so far) going ahead.

    • “Cui bono?” (/kwiː ˈboʊnoʊ/), literally “for whose benefit?”, is a Latin phrase which is still in use[1] as a key forensic question in legal and police investigation: finding out who has a motive for a crime. It is an adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be.[2]

      Cui bono is still as relevant today as when Cicero first said it 2000 years ago – proving that people are still greedy pr*cks.

  2. Let’s see. Ive got 2.5 billion (3.5 by the time it overruns the budget). I have to spend it before the next election….Is there anything needs fixing in NSW? No, so I think I’ll make friends with the eastern suburbs League and Rugby dudes, all 10,000 of them. This is our core costituency.

    • As pointed out elsewhere this morning, this is an inevitable consequence of (non-democratic) elective government.

      People get only ONE vote – for a politician – every three or four years. They will vote for the one thing that is MOST important to them. Sometimes the candidate offering that one thing will also offer other things that the voter supports, but almost invariably a voter is faced with the choice of “Oh! I like this even if I don’t like that.”

      It gets worse. Knowing the invidious position of the voters, politicians focus on well-organised special interest groups, offering them what they want (even if it is generally opposed by the rest of the population). People will vote FOR their special interest, but unless opposition to a special interest is their most desired policy they will not vote AGAINST it.

      And it gets worse. The politicians themselves are dependent on political donors and – worse still – they make all decisions with one eye on the million-dollar-a-year directorship they may expect to receive provided they’ve played the game on behalf of their patrons.

      And so we have it, an utterly corrupt system of government that exploits the many to benefit the few.

      And they call it “Liberal Representative Democracy”.

      George Orwell would be groaning in his grave.

      • +1 agree. Its a policy bundle offered. Which is why the politicians approach of raising a distraction issue is such effective politics –
        (eg many issues, – e.g see how strong they are on boat people, while otherwise doubling 457s and immigration or see how they crack down on welfare while giving tax break welfare to high wealth individuals ).

  3. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Don’t want to go punching yourself in the face in NSW ….finding a hospital bed might be a tad hard ….

    • But you will be able to get a comfy seat to watch the football instead of going to hospital…
      After all, each NSW adult is putting in $ 1000 to rebuild the stadiums and help Foxtel.

  4. Docklands Stadium in Vic opened in 2000. Sydney hosted the Olympics in 2000. Why would the Olympic stadium need to be rebuilt if the Docklands Stadium has not been?

    I also doubt the monorail in Sydney needed to be demolished – given that it took up hardly any land.

    All three demolitions smack of corruption.

  5. The financing of these stadia while public services whither on the vine and we face a huge shortage of all sorts of infrastructure in the face of some of the highest immigration in the developed world is the worst policy decision by a government for a very long time.
    Most of the seats will be empty for most of the events. It is a huge subsidy to a very few people so they can go to the State of Origin and the last few finals matches and maybe 5 pop concerts. It is gross financial mismanagement!

  6. gballardMEMBER

    There was a time when the Liberal Party and its coalition ally were at least regarded as being the more competent economic managers. Times have changed – now they are all equally incompetent with hair brained schemes and political rorting.