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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
Australia’s preparedness to host Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games

MOTU, Ms Kigan, Sport and Community Liaison Officer, Magpies Sporting Club


CHAIR: I now welcome Ms Kigan Motu from the Magpies Sporting Club. I'm pretty sure you've received information about parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses. Thanks for hosting me at your club a few weeks ago. It was great to see your wonderful sporting facilities. There are so many good sporting facilities here in Mackay. Would you like to make an opening statement before we have questions?

Ms Motu : Yes, I would. Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to the elders past and present. I want to take this time to give a bit of a background on Magpies Sporting Club. As we approach 40 years in business, we celebrate the connection that has formed through our commitment to deliver and develop, prioritising the needs of our 22,000 members, 2,300 active sporting participants across nine affiliated clubs, and their committees, families and supporters. Magpies has also demonstrated this commitment through our 135 employees. These numbers of staff and sporting participants have doubled in the last 10 years. With the economic engine room of the Bowen Basin mines, we foresee continued growth in all aspects of our business and sporting commitments in the next decade.

We've demonstrated competence in managing and developing our business and sporting facilities over the years. Our oval has hosted junior national cricket competitions. Whilst the playing surface is first class, investment is needed in change rooms and field lighting, to take them to a national standard. Our rectangular field, Sologinkin Oval, has been utilised for training camps by teams from national competitions and is a facility capable of handling state and national competition events.

The growth of our people and culture ensures the quality of the facilities is met with coaching and skills development, giving our grassroots athletes the opportunity to flourish and aspire to reach the next level. Mackay Regional Council is in the process of doing an audit of current facilities in our region, and we eagerly await the results of this audit, which will be available in February 2024. It should be noted that Mackay Regional Council have identified our land as a location for an indoor facility in their sport and recreation strategy. With a population of 180,000 in the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac regions, there is only one indoor stadium, which has five courts, none of which are to the Olympic or Paralympic standard. Today we propose that there is an opportunity to develop such a facility that would not only enhance Australia's capacity to host Olympic and Paralympic Games but also leave a legacy for the region, offering quality sporting facilities for generations to come. This aligns with the vision of the legacy plan of creating a better future, inclusive society and connected region.

Magpies Sporting Club would, in consultation with Mackay Regional Council and other major stakeholders, look forward to exploring opportunities that lie ahead to continue to grow our community involvement and allow us to deliver quality facilities through sustainable practices. What we have delivered today is a concept that we feel fits into the Mackay Regional Council's strategic plan, delivers Olympic- and Paralympic-standard facilities and leaves a legacy for our community well past 2032.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Ms Motu. It's a very useful submission, so thank you for that. Has this plan you're putting forward been costed at this stage? Do you have a cost?

Ms Motu : It hasn't been costed. We have talked about estimates, and they would sit somewhere between $20 million and $30 million.

CHAIR: For the indoor facility, did you say how many courts? I think you said there are currently five.

Ms Motu : I don't know if you were sent—

CHAIR: I've got the submission in front of me—or maybe not.

Ms Motu : There was a design sent through with our submission as well.

CHAIR: Yes, I think I have been sent that. I might just not have it open at the moment.

Ms Motu : There are eight courts plus a futsal court which would be suitable for wheelchair basketball, goalball and things like that.

CHAIR: In terms of helping to prepare for or support an Olympics, what are the key attributes you think this facility could help with?

Ms Motu : Obviously, as a training facility first, but I guess for now it would have an immediate impact on the facility gap in the Mackay region and in community sport.

Senator ROBERTS: Excuse me—on what kind of gap?

Ms Motu : The facility gap in the Mackay region. Having both netball and basketball coming in and playing in the one indoor stadium means that premier netball for next year has already been displaced from using the stadium over here. There's just not the availability for them to fit in anymore. So, from a community point of view, there is a need now.

Senator McKENZIE: Is premier netball a club or is it the actual grade?

Ms Motu : Premier is a grade. They play in indoor matches throughout the year. There are the outdoor courts where the clubs play as well, so there is still a demand for outdoor courts, but the major gap is the indoor facilities and not having any all-abilities access at all. There is a massive need for it now, and this would obviously help our local sports men and women prepare to be at that elite level without having to leave their families or travel for it.

CHAIR: We hadn't heard about this council audit before. So that's going to report back early next year, is it?

Ms Motu : Yes.

CHAIR: And what you're proposing to us is a submission to that as well, or—

Ms Motu : Obviously, we're a part of that audit, being some of the facilities in Mackay, and I think that the audit will just support what we're presenting today—that there is a gap. It's recognised across all clubs in Mackay that are playing in that space. It's just hard paperwork that says: 'This is what it is. This is where we're lacking. This is what we need.'

CHAIR: I do have it in front of me now, thank you, Ms Motu. Now I realise, in considering my next question, that Harrup Park doesn't have a right of reply. Is it different from—or does it supplement—the stage 2 gear? Have you looked at that? It sounds a little bit similar in terms of the Paralympic indoor facilities. Is it one or the other, or can that—

Ms Motu : I don't think so. I don't think that there is such a thing as 'us and them'. We're one community. Harrup does service a lot of the South Mackay area, and there are no sporting facilities to this standard, even, in the north of the region. We are part of a growth population and, obviously, housing development is on the rise, so I believe any injection of infrastructure into this region will be welcomed, whether it be in the south and the north or in one or the other. We welcome it, however that ends up being.

CHAIR: Putting aside the redevelopment, what has been your club's experience with hosting teams for competitions and stuff like that? Have you done that in the past?

Ms Motu : With cricket, I know that we've hosted the under-17s and the under-19s national side for a match. We were open to host the all-abilities cricket early next year, but I think that that has been postponed. Over at the rectangle oval, they have held national championships. I don't have on me what teams they played there, but it is at a standard that it can continue to do that—like the rugby sevens that have been discussed by rugby and things like that.

CHAIR: One of the things that's come from both the blueprint of the games and also this committee is the need to make sure that we use the Olympics to improve our relationships with Pacific island nations and Oceania. Has your club got any connections with Pacific islands people or countries, given that there are a lot of Pacific island people in this region?

Ms Motu : We do hold the South Sea Islander Kanaka cup every year over at Magpies. So that's a connection that we have within the region. With Oceania, we're definitely on board with opening the doorway to that. Obviously, we've got a very similar climate and smaller communities, and it's much easier to adapt into when you're coming across, so we're open to any opportunities that exist that will create a legacy for not only our members but also the wider community of Mackay.

CHAIR: Thank you. Senator McKenzie.

Senator McKENZIE: I note that, in your plan, you talk about para sports. Do you offer para options currently?

Ms Motu : No. In terms of a lot of the facilities that we host, we have all-abilities access to all our grounds, but we don't offer any all-abilities sports, but that is something that we want to open the door to, moving forward.

Senator McKENZIE: Is there anywhere locally?

Ms Motu : I don't believe so.

Senator McKENZIE: Given that's an area of focus, one of the issues this committee has heard about with the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games by Victoria was that that was a huge opportunity for para athletes to actually get their classifications done et cetera so that they're ready for the Paralympics in 2032. Have you had any discussions?

Ms Motu : We've had no direct discussions, and we're presenting a concept that is a tangible item for you guys to say, 'This is what could be.' We're open to taking some of that operational baggage that the council talked about—when we erect infrastructure in places like regional Queensland and then local governments are left with that operational baggage. We're willing to contribute to carrying that load and making sure that the facilities are maintained and held to a standard for more than just the Olympics—for years and years after. When we came up with this concept, it was important that we had it accessible to all abilities because why build something to this standard and not have that opportunity for everybody.

CHAIR: Senator Roberts.

Senator ROBERTS: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Ms Motu, for being here. Tell me something about the audit that the Mackay Regional Council is conducting, please. What's its scope?

Ms Motu : Sports and recreation are going through the audit, and I believe it's indoor and outdoor facilities. They're just going through and seeing what they have and at what standard they're at, throughout the Mackay region. They've got external auditors coming in to do that and then they'll formulate a report to say, 'This is what is currently available within the region,' and, I guess, work towards their strategic plan of where they need to focus.

Senator ROBERTS: Will that also fuel or inform any proposal they put to the games organising committee?

Ms Motu : Possibly. I would think that it would be in line with the Olympics coming to town—or to the state, I should say. But I think it's also just not been done before. It's not just for local government owned facilities; it's for all facilities within the Mackay region.

Senator ROBERTS: So they can market the Mackay regional area.

Ms Motu : Yes.

Senator ROBERTS: You've mentioned that you could offer training facilities and also that you hope to get onto the Olympic radar by closing the facility gap.

Ms Motu : Yes.

Senator ROBERTS: What have you done in terms of reaching out to the state government? Have you reached out?

Ms Motu : There have been initial conversations on the local level. With state government, there has been no formal conversation. Visits from the MPs are about as far as it's gone. This is our first, I guess, opportunity to present our stance on where we sit and what we'd like to be a part of.

Senator ROBERTS: Broadening away from Magpies Sporting Club, what are the opportunities and the risks and your concerns about the Olympics in general—it's impact on Mackay and on your club?

Ms Motu : The risks and concerns are that we won't have the same opportunities for sports men and women in the regional areas that are otherwise available in the cities, that it will stay centralised to Brisbane and that some of those temporary facilities that are being discussed—which I would actually call redundant facilities—will just be a waste of money. You've got people and gaps here now that need it, so all that money being pulled into something that's going to be pulled down later, and not creating something such as a legacy, is one of the major risks that I see.

Senator ROBERTS: So you're offering for them to build the temporary pool here in Mackay.

Ms Motu : We wouldn't want it to be temporary.

Senator ROBERTS: No, but then you could keep it.

Ms Motu : Yes, exactly. I know that the rugby guys spoke really well about it, but community legacy and inspiring grassroots to have something to develop towards, and then to look back on for years to come, are really important for regional areas.

Senator ROBERTS: You've been in touch with the community around you and around your club. Are people seeing that this area pumps a lot of money into revenues for Queensland but doesn't get much back?

Ms Motu : Absolutely. I think that that's probably a given. You've got 50 per cent of the population working in the mining industry, as Councillor May said, so of course they see the tax money that they pay and then the lack of road repairs or upgrades and things like that. Especially when it comes to sporting and infrastructure, not having that money pushed back into the community is evident.

Senator ROBERTS: So the Olympics would be a really first-class way of the state government fixing its reputation—

Ms Motu : It'd be a good start.

Senator ROBERTS: if they shared it out here?

Ms Motu : It'd be a really good start. I think that it's a good opportunity to mend some of those bridges. It would be seen as a legacy, which is what we want. That money that's going out would be seen as coming back in.

Senator ROBERTS: Thank you. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR:  Senator Allman-Payne.

Senator ALLMAN-PAYNE: While you've been talking, Ms Motu, I've been doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation, and, according to my calculation, if the government didn't knock down and rebuild the Gabba—if we just took that as one project, which is going to cost $7.2 billion—that would allow them to provide 150 grants, worth $18 million, of the type that you're asking for.

Unidentified speaker: That's right.

Senator ALLMAN-PAYNE: What impact would it have, in your view, on regional Queensland and places like this, if multiple communities around the state were able to get the sorts of grants that you and the people who gave us evidence before were asking for?

Ms Motu : You'd have a connected society. You'd have investment from grassroots. You would have volunteers willing to put their time into something, because it's not just, 'Let's play sport until the end of school.' There's a future for all of the community past a certain date or a certain event. I can't even quantify the difference that that would make to not only Mackay but Townsville, Cairns or Emerald. It doesn't have to be the same standard across the board, but that investment in these regions—they service more than just the cities. I lived in Glenden for 11 years and travelled two hours each way for sport, so I know that, as it's a gateway to the mines, there are areas outside of just the cities that will benefit from this, and people won't have to travel 12 hours to Brisbane.

Senator ALLMAN-PAYNE: Thank you. That's it.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Allman-Payne. Thanks again, Ms Motu, for your evidence. I don't think you took anything on notice, but, if you have any information to provide to us, we're asking for that to be back by 30 November. Thank you everybody who appeared this morning. It's been a long but very informative morning—very helpful for us. We're going to break for lunch.

Proceedings suspended from 13:30 to 14:16