The West

Time to stop this game of political football
Time to stop this game of political football

From a karma perspective, Premier Colin Barnett deserves the clip he is getting from the State Opposition for his stadium costings and his choice of Burswood as a site.

As he set about cancelling out the work of the Langoulant stadium task force several years ago, then taking back the Carpenter government's decision to build a new 60,000 seat stadium at Kitchener Park in Subiaco, Mr Barnett delighted in referring to the project as the $1.1 billion stadium project rather than the $630 million the stadium construction was budgeted to cost.

So if he cops some flak for the fact that costings for his $700 million Burswood stadium are now $690 million (stadium) plus $70 million (for surrounding precinct work) plus $142.4 million (cost escalation through to 2018) plus at least $300 million (transport infrastructure), he can hardly blame critics for now referring to Burswood as his $1.2 billion stadium project.

That said, it is time for both the Government and Opposition to stop the silly "our stadium is better than your stadium" political game and get on with building it so voters get the best value for their money.

The four-year fixed terms a State government is elected for are called an election cycle, not a new major stadium site cycle.

The notion that WA voters will cop another change of site with another change of government is more likely to blow up in the Labor Party's face than work in its favour at the next State election.

Burswood was one of four sites shortlisted by the stadium task force and comes with its own set of advantages and issues, as does the Kitchener Park site. Both can work, both can fail.

Neither will ever be built if each party knocks over the other's project when it takes government.

What became clear yesterday is that the Barnett Government is aiming for national and world benchmarks in stadium quality.

Spectator views better than Etihad Stadium and more than twice the number of female toilets than Subiaco represent important steps forward for the WA sporting public.

New "field club" corporate boxes, a higher standard of general admission seats and a roof covering 85 per cent of spectators are equally significant advances for a WA sporting public which has suffered from Subiaco's poor facilities.

The focus of both political parties needs to shift to making sure those needs, and new benchmarks, are delivered in a timely fashion, without cost blowouts.

Anything else is political point scoring, not planning, and that is a game guaranteed to cost voters and spectators time and money.

The West Australian

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