Transport Minister’s tunnel vision puts Tigers future in peril
Wednesday 3 February 2021
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne has slammed the Transport Minister Andrew Constance for his compulsory acquisition of the former Balmain Leagues Club site in Rozelle, saying the move will be the “final nail in the coffin for Balmain Tigers”.
Mayor Byrne said the revelation that approval of the Western Harbour Tunnel project and the acquisition of the former Balmain Leagues Club site could not have come at a worse time for the club.
“In his infinite wisdom, Minster Constance decided to deliver the bad news to the club a day before its 113th birthday as a foundation rugby league club. I really can’t think of a worst birthday present.
“The owner of the former Balmain Leagues Club site has an approved development application that would see the Tigers return to Rozelle. This is after nearly a decade of the State Government rejecting other development plans for the site.
“Now that the Government has decided to use it as a ‘dive site’ for the Western Harbour Tunnel, this development will never proceed, and the Tigers will never return to their spiritual home.
“Worst still the Government is outright refusing to offer a single cent of compensation, which would allow the Tigers to establish a leagues club at an alternative site in area.
“To date, the Transport Minister has declined to even talk to club about compensation for the compulsory acquisition of their home.
“When Barry O’Farrell was appointed Chair of Wests Tigers in 2019, I urged him to fight for the Tigers at the highest level of government to secure the Club’s future. Sadly, nothing came of it.
“Council has done everything in its power to ensure the best outcome for the community, Balmain Tigers and the former Balmain Leagues Club, now the State Government has snubbed its nose at the club and the community.
“This Western Harbour Tunnel project will also have enormous environmental; health and amenity impacts on the local community.
“In addition to the four massive smokestacks and enormous motorway interchange already being built in Rozelle as part of the Stage 3 of WestConnex, this would see all the spoil from the 6.5-kilometre tunnel being removed and trucked out on local streets,” he said.
“It is going to be like building a small mine in the middle of a densely populated inner-city suburb.
Simon Cook, CEO of Wests Ashfield, said the ongoing questions about Transport for NSW’s plans have left members frustrated and increasingly concerned that the compulsory acquisition of the site could jeopardise the future of their Club.
“Wests Ashfield’s Agreement for Lease, which we signed with the site owners Heworth, has provided our members with hope that their beloved Balmain Leagues Club would return ‘home’ to Rozelle. For further information please contact Bill Hawker on 0421 224 366.
“Any delay will impact the support of junior rugby league and it will also delay much needed support for local sporting and charitable organisations.
“We have heard very little from the Government who don’t seem to care about the long-suffering members, rugby league participants and supporters, and the wider Balmain Tigers community.
When will they stop kicking this Club in the guts and try to come up with a sensible solution?” he added.