Grainy new pictures show bulldozers tearing through the turf — where so many great sporting memories were made — in of one of Sydney’s most famous arenas.
Now resembling a WestConnex construction zone, it looks and sounds as if the divisive $730 million plans to knock down and rebuild Sydney’s Allianz Stadium in the city’s east are well under way.
However, the images — taken just yesterday — have stoked anger as an injunction preventing “hard demolition” of the stadiums walls and roof remains in place until 5pm today.
And as the NSW election looms, the images of a so-called “soft demolition” taking place inside the stadium have prompted the state opposition to ask: Why can’t the government just wait?
Opposition Leader Michael Daley said he could hear the “bashing and smashing” behind him as he descended Moore Park yesterday — calling for demolition works to be delayed until the state election.
“The injunction hasn’t run out yet, you can hear the bashing and smashing and destruction and crashing behind us now, so there’s a bit of explaining to do,” Mr Daley told reporters yesterday.
“No one knows what’s happening inside there, just like the light rail — I can’t answer the question because no one is allowed in.
“Only a government dripping with arrogance would proceed to knock down this stadium against the wishes of the people with 16 days to go.’’
Voters see the government’s divisive stadiums plans, which include $730 million for Allianz, $810 million for a reconfiguration of ANZ Stadium and the Parramatta Stadium project, as a key issue in the election.
Simon Millar, a 26-year-old from Padstow Heights, which lies in one the state’s most marginal seat, East Hills in the city’s southwest, was just one of many residents who told news.com.au the plans have left them frustrated at the Coalition.
“We really need that money here in East Hills, because the roads are getting real s**tty, the hospital’s run down and there’s not enough schools,” he said.
“I’m not happy about it and a lot people I know around here are not happy about it.”
Another resident from Panania, again in the ultra-marginal seat, asked: “Can’t they just wait until we’ve voted on it before knocking it down?”
The resumption of demolition work comes amid the news that a court order outlawing major demolition works at the stadium may be extended or immediately lifted by a judge.
The temporary injunction — put in place in February to allow a challenge to the $730 million project in the Land and Environment Court — is due to expire at 5pm today.
But those behind the failed challenge want it extended until Monday, when they head to the Court of Appeal in another attempt to stop the controversial project.
Land and Environment Court Justice Nicola Pain is expected to announce her decision this morning.
Justice Pain on Wednesday threw out a community group’s three-pronged challenge over the planning process to rebuild the city’s biggest rectangular stadium.
Local Democracy Matters had argued Planning Minister Anthony Roberts hadn’t considered “design excellence” or soil contamination before approving the project and his government hadn’t exhibited the demolition proposal for long enough.
They’re appealing Justice Pain’s decision to the Court of Appeal. Local Democracy Matters spokesman Chris Maltby, who is an IT specialist for the Greens, said it would be an outrage if the bulldozers were sent in before Monday.
“If the government does proceed like that, it says everything you need to know about how they’ve carried out this project,” he said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian was asked numerous times on Thursday whether her government would proceed with hard demolition works if the court injunction was lifted but refused to give a direct answer.
Instead, she told reporters “it’s business as usual”.
— with wires