Ashley Robinson OAM

Short-sighted leasing policy may hamper region’s Olympic plans

THE Sunshine Coast may miss out on opportunities to host international Olympic teams unless the region’s sporting clubs are granted the freedom and security to plan their futures, according to mayoral candidate Ashley Robinson.

Mt Robinson, OAM, called on Sunshine Coast Council to overhaul its policy of granting sporting clubs only short leases over their venues.

He said clubs like Wanderers Football Club had only a one-year lease over its Ballinger Road, Buderim, premises, despite having maintained, developed and played at the venue for decades.

“How can clubs have the certainty to even sign a player on a two-year contract, let alone invest in facilities?” he said. “If elected mayor on March 16, I commit to a full review of all council sporting club leases with the intent of giving them that certainty.

Mr Robinson promised to consult with local bodies who have lived and breathed their sport for years so the Sunshine Coast can best benefit from the 2032 Olympic Games.

“They know where opportunity sits in the big picture and how to maximise the legacy benefit of the Games through collaboration with business which can deliver the investment the council can’t afford,” he said.

“Certainty over lease arrangement is essential for clubs to be freed up to maximise opportunities and to develop long-term growth and financial sustainability.”

Mr Robinson said the clock was fast ticking down to the Olympics with demand for world class facilities expected within five years.

“Countries will start arriving in Australia looking to acclimatise elite teams and athletes, to accommodate them and to prepare for competition,” he said.

Mr Robinson met with executives of the 1500-member Wanderers Football Club, who told him they were being stymied by the uncertainty of operating under a one-year council lease.

Club president Glen Duncan said Wanderers were ready to move forward with expansion plans that would give the club the financial sustainability to help keep kids off the streets, playing sport at a low cost and creating pathways to excellence for those who want to pursue the game to that level.

“We have the plans to do so but need certainty over our lease to allow that to happen,” Mr Duncan said.

Mr Duncan said Wanderers would come to the new council with a bid to secure a long-term lease on sports fields the council was establishing on land in Honey Farm Road, opposite Corbould Park racecourse.

The club has private investment interest in developing the site as a multi-sport centre supported by world class training facilities, clubhouse and playing arenas. Once established, it would generate the funding needed to redevelop Wanderers’ Ballinger Road home into a first-class local sports facility.

Mr Duncan said Mr Robinson’s experience as a sports administrator meant he understood the issues and knew the solution. Mr Robinson has been a successful business operator on the Sunshine Coast for the past 35 years with a heavy involvement in sporting clubs and charity organisations. 

He was co-founder of the Island Charity Swim which supports three special schools in the region and is the chairman of the Sunshine Coast Falcons Rugby League Club, which fields men’s and women’s teams as well as under 18s and 16s teams at state level.

The Falcons collaboration with Melbourne Storm was directly responsible for bringing NRL matches to the Sunshine Coast, NRL teams to train here and for the Sunshine Coast Lighting netball team to base itself here. Mr Robinson has also managed the Alex Surf Club for the past 13 years ensuring its financial health and bolstering the involvement of female athletes.

He has committed to a full review of council finances to ensure ratepayers were getting value for money and to reduce cost of living pressure.