Labor gives country footy the Pontius Pilate treatment

The Andrews Labor Government has washed its hands of any responsibility over county football and netball despite clear evidence of a growing problem.

Nationals Gippsland MP’s are concerned that Labor is turning its back on a significant community and social issue that goes to the heart of country communities.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath recently sought help from the Minister for Sport, Martin Pakula for the troubles afflicting country football and netball in Gippsland.

“We all know the issues that are occurring with the Alberton Football League as the six remaining clubs struggle to find a home and a positive future.

“While I recognise that this is primarily a matter for AFL Victoria and the local clubs and leagues, there is a responsibility of government to step in to assist where it can.

“I’m very concerned about where country football and netball will end up and I believe there’s a role for the Andrews Labor Government to assist.

“Indeed when a similar issue rose to prominence in the mid-2000’s the then Labor Government instituted a parliamentary inquiry which, among other things, resulted in the introduction of the successful Country Football and Netball Funding Program.

“This time however, Martin Pakula has completely washed his hands of issue and says it is a matter for AFL Victoria.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said this was in stark contrast to the Labor Government’s approach to the AFL.

“When the AFL came knocking last year looking for taxpayers dollars to renovate Marvel Stadium, Daniel Andrews fell over himself in the rush to hand over the cash.

“We then saw $225 million of taxpayers funds go to the wealthiest sporting organisation in the country.

“Unfortunately it seems both the Andrews Labor Government and the AFL are ignoring grassroots footy and netball, and if not addressed, this will ultimately have huge ramifications for the sports and also for our regional communities.

“I don’t want to consider what our small towns would be like without a footy and netball club and although the problems are many and varied I am happy to assist with any solutions that the state government can help with.”