TAB sale threatens Rockingham and Kwinana grassroots sports

Hayley Goddard

The region's local governments fear privatising the WA Government-owned TAB to recover State debt could damage the future of grassroots sport.

The cities of Rockingham and Kwinana and Rockingham MLA Mark McGowan have mirrored concerns from WA's peak independent sports body, claiming selling the TAB would rip the heart out of community sport and recreation by robbing it of about a third of its State funding.

WA Sports Federation chief executive Rob Thompson said privatising the TAB would almost certainly mean the Sports Wagering Account, which made up 32 per cent of community sport allocations, would cease to exist.

City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said funding which helped the community engage in sport and recreation was "extremely valuable to the region".

"Removing grants will reduce participation opportunities for people who relied on funding programs to be part of the community, such as KidSport," he said.

City of Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams said she was concerned the sale could draw funds away from community sport and hoped the State Government would continue to support the sector in the same capacity it has been, even if the TAB was sold.

A Department of Sport and Recreation spokesman said it invested a significant amount of money into community sport and recreation through the account, which received money from profits and unclaimed winnings from the TAB.

In the past three years more than $11 million was funnelled from the account to fund physical activities, research and initiatives to increase participation.

State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said if the sale went ahead "it could be a huge blow for local junior and social sport".

"Supporting local sport and recreation organisations is not something that should be taken lightly," he said.