The man who hopes to be the next premier of New South Wales has threatened to sack Sydney shock jock Alan Jones from a plum community role he’s held for 30 years.
Michael Daley appeared on 2GB this morning to discuss the government’s contentious $729 million plan to demolish and rebuild Allianz Stadium.
Sydney Cricket Ground Trust supports the move and Jones serves on its Board, but Labor claims the project is a waste of taxpayer money and that the facility should be refurbished instead, at a significantly lower cost.
Mr Daley said the SCG Trust, which operates the stadium in Moore Park, has inflated the apparent fire and safety risks of the existing facility.
“That’s one of the reasons, Alan, I’m going to sack the Board,” Mr Daley said in a heated exchange with Jones this morning.
“If I’m elected, the Board will go. I know you’ve been on that Board for 30 years.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has faced growing opposition to the huge spend required and criticism over the messy decision-making process.
Jones invoked the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 people were killed and 766 injured during a human crush at an FA Cup match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the stadium in Sheffield, England.
The broadcaster claimed Allianz Stadium as it was lacked proper fire safety and emergency exit requirements and therefore should be knocked down and replaced.
But as Mr Daley pointed out, two members stands at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground next door also failed to meet safety standards.
“But we don’t knock them down,” the Labor Opposition leader said.
Opinion: New stadium plans show blatant disrespect to people of Sydney
Jones seemed unperturbed by the threat to remove him and the rest of the SCG Trust Board from their high-profile roles, saying they did the job without compensation.
“Yeah, we do the job for nothing. Don’t worry. We don’t mind. That’s your job.”
Mr Daley ended the tense interview by saying: “Thanks for your service.”
It’s been a rough year for Jones, who lost a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, attracted controversy by attacking the boss of the Sydney Opera House and ignited fury for using the N word on air.
In the wake of today’s interview, SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd hit back at Mr Daley’s criticism and told The Australian that the remarks were “unfair”.
“I have got a lot of feedback from the Trustees … we were treated quite unfairly,” Mr Shepherd told the newspaper.
“If that’s what he wants, that’s what he wants,’’ Mr Shepherd said. “We respect the right [of governments].’’
However, the Labor leader’s implications were that the Board was “incompetent”, saying the experience of those who served was enviable.
“We run it on a competent basis. It’s not a social thing for us,” Mr Shepherd said.
The new stadium will be a 45,000 seat-venue and is expected to be completed by 2021, with designs revealed last year by Cox Architecture.
Since the plan to knock down and replace the existing site was announced, the Liberal Government has faced increasing pressure to justify its spending priorities.
A court-ordered suspension of demolition works ahead of the March 23 poll has put the fate of Allianz Stadium on hold for now, pending the outcome of the election.
Labor has pledged to scrap the project if it seizes power later this month.
Rugby legend, journalist and author Peter FitzSimons is a staunch opponent of the $1.5 billion stadiums plan, which also includes the upgrade of ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park.
He has described the project as a “gross waste of precious resources” and said there was “zero public demand to replace” Allianz.
Mr FitzSimons launched a petition that has gathered more than 218,000 signatures.
“We, the undersigned concerned citizens of NSW, believe our money could be better spent with the likes of 100 X $10 million projects being funded across the state, so towns, suburbs and regions could see a thousand fields, pools, courts and arenas bloom, doing something for the wider people of NSW and not merely the tiny percentage involved in elite sport,” it reads.
“We believe some of the money could be used to lower registration fees for kids playing a variety of sports, to remove the obstacles that prevent so many from participating.
“This would still allow nearly a billion dollars left over to refurbish the current stadiums, and put much-needed money into other community resources, like schools, hospitals, theatres, galleries, homeless shelters and the like.”
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