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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13850


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (12:14): I rise to speak on an important issue for residents in my electorate—that is, the recent announcement that the Balyana pool will be permanently closed from April 2013. This is an issue that I have received many emails and phone calls about recently. Almost every family in the Mitcham Council area has had children learn to swim in this pool.

The Balyana pool is located in Clapham, a suburb in my electorate. It is a four-lane, 25-metre heated indoor public pool. The pool is owned by Bedford Industries, who are based in my electorate and do great work in the area of employment and training for people with a disability. They are an organisation I have had much to do with over my 16 years as the local member.

The Balyana pool has been operating for 42 years and currently has up to 1,300 people using the pool each week. Bedford Industries lease the pool to community groups, schools, and clubs including Novita Children's Services and Anglicare. The Panorama Swim School also operates from the Balyana pool and teaches more than 750 students, and employ 23 casual staff.

Unfortunately, the rising maintenance, upgrade, and operating costs mean that Bedford Industries can no longer afford to keep open a pool which does not fall within their core business structure. Bedford Industries have claimed that a total refurbishment would cost upwards of $600,000 to bring the pool back to an acceptable standard. This issue has been foreshadowed by Bedford Industries for a number of years, and yet the Mitcham Council have done nothing about it as it has played out. It is an issue which I wrote to Bedford Industries and the Mitcham Council about back in July of 2009 seeking details of their plan to mitigate and prepare for what has now become a reality.

The Balyana pool is the only public pool in the Mitcham Council area and its closure will leave residents in the Mitcham Council without local access to a public swimming pool. By contrast, neighbouring Marion Council showed leadership and vision in bringing the state aquatic centre to their own area and have actually kept open the open-air Marion pool.

The mayor of Mitcham has ruled out the council developing a new public pool but has since been silent on whether the Mitcham Council will move to help support the maintenance of the Balyana pool. I call on the Mitcham Council to pull their weight and show leadership in this area when the mayor of Marion and myself and others, including the South Australian government, helped to put together the state aquatic centre at Marion. We did not imagine that other neighbouring councils would not be doing their bit.

It is very disappointing that Bedford Industries have decided there is no choice other than to close the Balyana pool, but we need the Mitcham Council to step into the breach and look at maintaining this pool as they do not have any publicly accessible pool in their local government area.