A comment on the 2014/15 Budget

While tourism budgets remained largely intact, cuts to Government agencies to save almost $500 million were announced. The Australian Institute of Sport will possibly see a 20% cut in staff. $87.1 million is being cut from the arts budget within the Attorney-General’s office, including $28.2 million of cuts over four years from the Australia Council, the country’s main arts funding body, and $25.1 million of cuts over four years from Screen Australia. Funding for the Adelaide Festival Centre’s support for Asian cultural activities will also be ended, with an estimated saving of $1.8 million.

The Budget includes $130 million in base funding for Tourism Australia and $13.5 million towards the Asia Marketing Fund. This is geared to capitalise on emerging opportunities in Asia. The Government has also committed to the ambitious Tourism 2020 target of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by the end of the decade to more than $115 billion. This couples with the States’ own programs to capture much greater tourism and business tourism commitment, including major growth from China.

This environment places more focus and pressure on State funding for arts, culture, sport and venue-related plans…at a time when they are trying to cut back. There is a hint in some areas that grants to sports organisations may become loans.  Sports venues related spending is still large. Earlier this year the Victorian Government announced plans for the Rod Laver Arena upgrade and new access to Melbourne Park, with spending of some $298 million for stage two of the redevelopment, while the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust will provide $40 million. The $366 million first stage included the construction of a roof over Margaret Court Arena, the new National Tennis Centre training facility, the Edwin Flack pedestrian bridge and a new Eastern Plaza. And there has been a steady stream of smaller value announcements for other local venues. Meantime, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre still hungers for a go-ahead to expand.

New South Wales’ main venues and facilities ‘play’ has been the new International Exhibition and Conference centre at Darling Harbour…with the likely budget still not apparent, publicly, the temporary Glebe Island facility and the RAS Showgrounds. There is a growing demand for upgraded facilities in Sydney with a face-off probable for funds towards a ‘new’ Western Sydney stadium, be it the Parramatta stadium or a brand new concept further West, a new roof at ANZ Stadium and/or a new roof plus public areas renewal at Allianz Stadium. New sports minister Stuart Ayres has let it be known there ain’t much in the kitty…and it looks like decisions will not be taken during the current term of government.

Queensland and the Gold Coast are focused on the 2018 Commonwealth Games. South Australia has seen the Oval renewed and the $350 million Adelaide Convention Centre Redevelopment is part of a $3 billion investment in the Adelaide CBD north west fringe, with other projects including SAHMRI, a new hospital, sports stadium, and biomedical health precinct. Western Australia will see through its new Perth stadium development and some minor upgrades to existing venues. 

Eric Winton

Director, New Millennium Business

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