NSW Greens spokesperson for Sport and the South Coast, Justin Field MLC, has called on the member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, to oppose Government plans to sell or lease the Berry Sport and Recreation Centre to private operators.
The call comes after Government members opposed a motion in the NSW Legislative Council calling on the Government to abandon privatisation plans.
Mr. Field said, “I’m calling on the Member for Kiama to oppose any privatisation of our sport and recreation centres and to come clean with the South Coast community about the Government’s plans for the Berry Centre?
“The Government acknowledged they have engaged in “market testing” to consider opportunities for non-profit and other operators to run eleven sport and recreation centres across NSW including the Berry Centre.
“Privatisation will inevitably drive up the cost of sending your child to camp.
“The idea that kids might lose the opportunity to go to school camp because their parents can’t afford it is not something the Greens can support and the local member should reject it.
“The Government should be investing in these centres and maximizing the number of schools and groups using them so as many kids as possible can enjoy the health, social and educational benefits they offer. They shouldn’t be seen as a cash cow for Government, but an essential public service.
“Almost 200,000 students used these centres across NSW and any effort to raise revenue by leasing the centres to private providers will lead to increasing fees. These centres have a really important place in the lives of our communities and kids; they are more than just cash cows to the South Coast community.
The transcript of Justin’s speech on the motion can be found here. The text of the motion defeated in the Legislative Council is below: EDITOR’S NOTE: SPORT AND RECREATION CAMPS Ms Voltz moved, according to notice: 1279
That this House expresses its concern that the Minister for Sport, the Honourable Stuart Ayres MP, has confirmed that he has undertaken market testing of all eleven sport and recreation camps run by the Office of Sport.
That this House notes that:
these sport and recreation camps are located at:
Berry in the seat of Shoalhaven,
Borambola in the seat of Wagga Wagga,
Broken Bay in the seat of Gosford,
Jindabyne in the seat of Monaro,
Lake Ainsworth in the seat of Ballina,
Lake Burrendong in the seat of Dubbo,
Lake Keepit in the seat of Tamworth,
Milson Island in the seat of Hornsby,
Myuna Bay in the seat Lake Macquarie,
Point Wolstoncroft in the seat of Swansea,
Sydney Academy Narrabeen in the seat of Wakehurst,
last year 191,000 participants attended sport and recreation camps at a net cost to the Baird Government of $2.6 million,
these participants largely consisted of school camps but also included people with disabilities,
according to the Baird Government’s own documents, the camps located at Myuna Bay, Point Wolstoncroft, Broken Bay, Lake Ainsworth, Milson Island, and the Sydney Academy all make a surplus, while regional camps such as Berry, Borambola, Lake Burrendong, Lake Keepit and Jindabyne all rely on cross profits from other camps due to their location and access to population densities,
any privatisation of sport and recreation camps poses a significant risk, particularly for regional centres, and
sport and recreation camps form an important part of the education curriculum and should be delivered through the control and operation of the Office of Sport and their specialist staff.
This House calls on the Baird Government to immediately cease its plans to privatise any Sport and Recreation Camp and guarantee that their operation and control remains in public hands.