Funding pledge

By Benalla Ensign

The Nationals say they will redirect government funding from Etihad Stadium into sporting clubs across Benalla and regional Victoria if elected in November.

State Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said funding currently earmarked for the AFL would be better allocated to local sporting clubs lacking basic amenities, such as female change rooms, canteens and scoreboards.

‘‘There’s a long line of local clubs in our area for whom a little bit of funding would go a long way,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Hundreds of Benalla kids are playing junior football with only a tin shed as their clubrooms while our local equestrian groups are fundraising to build a new indoor arena.

‘‘The Benalla All Blacks have also been in touch with me seeking funding to improve the capacity of their netball side.

‘‘Everywhere I look, local sporting clubs are trying to find more money.

‘‘Projects like these are more deserving of taxpayers’ money in my book than Etihad Stadium.

‘‘Giving a $225 million taxpayer-funded handout to the AFL while community sporting clubs are only being offered concessional loans from the Labor Government shows how Daniel Andrews and his local MPs have their priorities all wrong.’’

Ms Ryan said redirecting the money to community sport would benefit hundreds of thousands of Victorians.

‘‘Etihad is already considered a world-class sports stadium. It’s not fair that Premier Daniel Andrews thinks that a major corporation like the AFL is more deserving than grassroots sporting clubs,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘If elected this November, we will redirect every dollar we can from the funds that the Andrews Government has proposed to spend on Etihad Stadium to support our local clubs with much-needed upgrades.

‘‘The Nationals understand the importance of sport in regional communities and that’s why the needs of our local sporting clubs will always come first when we are in government.’’