Labor vows to scrap Marshall’s Riverbank Arena project

The Labor Party will scrap plans to build a 15,000-seat arena on the Riverbank if it wins the next state election in 2022, citing the need to invest more money in the state’s health system to address hospital overcrowding and ambulance ramping.

Jun 24, 2021, updated Jun 24, 2021
Image: State Government

Image: State Government

The $662.5 million basketball stadium and conference centre, announced in March as a centrepiece of the Marshall Government’s re-election bid, will be located directly west of the Morphett Street bridge on the Torrens and act as an extension of the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Tuesday’s State Budget showed funds for the project are not due to roll in until the 2022-23 financial year – after the March 2022 state election – with early site works not anticipated until 2025-26.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas announced this morning the Labor Party will scrap the proposal if elected next year, saying the government has failed to make the case for why the investment is necessary.

He said the stadium is “simply not the right priority” given the state of South Australia’s health system.

“At the next election, South Australians will have a clear choice: Steven Marshall and his $662 million Basketball Stadium or a Malinauskas Labor Government which will instead invest in our health system to help address hospital overcrowding and ambulance ramping,” he said.

“There’s no point focussing on a flashy new basketball stadium when South Australians can’t guarantee they’ll get an ambulance when they call triple zero in an emergency. People are dying – this is literally a matter of life and death.”

The opposition leader on Wednesday attacked the State Government’s health budget, claiming 39 jobs from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital would be lost as part of a cull of 371 positions across the health sector.

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Health Minister Stephen Wade said the government has continually promised that “no doctor or nurse will be sacked as a result of savings outlined in the budget”.

Labor’s decision to scrap the Riverbank Arena comes after Premier Steven Marshall was forced to correct the record on Wednesday about the expected revenue and operating costs of the stadium.

Adelaide Venue Management Corporation CEO Anthony Kirchner had told the Budget and Finance parliamentary committee on Monday that the stadium would cost $80 million a year to run and generate $100 million in revenue per annum.

The premier told parliament on Wednesday the figures were wrong and the stadium is forecast to generate $49.2 million in revenue per annum while costing $34.5 million to operate.

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