Kennett launches attack over Hawks’ facility upgrade
Hawthorn's $100m world-class training base at Dingley will take shape from early next year, with the federal government set to kick in $15m.
But it has come as Hawks president Jeff Kennett accused the state government of "playing politics" at the expense of the community in Melbourne's ever-expanding southeast by rejecting its funding proposals for the new facilities.
Mr Kennett told the Herald Sun he is "absolutely'' certain his stinging criticism of the Andrews Government's bungled hotel quarantine system cost the club its anticipated funding.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack will announce the cash injections at the future site of the state-of-the-art Kennedy Community Centre in Dingley Village.
The centre, named after club legend John Kennedy Sr., who died in June, aged 91, will include facilities for the local community and women's sport.
Mr Kennett said he was grateful for the Federal Government's support, but took a swipe at the State Government for overlooking their proposal, despite four other AFL clubs receiving funding for their home bases in the past week.
But he has no regrets over his criticism, saying: "There are some things in life that are more important than money."
"There are principles of good governance and principles of good government. There were 800 lives lost through administrative foul-ups and I have no qualms at all about saying someone has to highlight the failings of the government and the inner cabinet."
Mr Kennett said the Hawks had been assured they were "at the top of the list for getting approval", but wasn't surprised when the club was left empty-handed.
"It would be true to say I am disappointed ... but the (state) government has decided for reasons of its own that they don't want to give us the money," he said.
"I accept this is because of my continued questioning of the government over their handling of the coronavirus (pandemic).
"I understand politics and at times politics can be very vindictive and personal, so I am not complaining. We expect it and we get on with the job.
"They are playing politics against me, but in real terms they are playing politics against the community of the southeast."
He said the club had been told it could yet receive some funding next May, but he doubts it will happen given the state's rising debt.
When it is completed, Hawthorn's Kennedy Community Centre will include a pavilion and oval built to ensure gender equal facilities and public amenities.
It will also include education spaces, an indoor stadium for community basketball, netball, volleyball, and wheelchair AFL and a main oval and elite training centre to be shared by all Hawthorn teams equally.
It comes as the club continues to lobby for a team in the AFLW competition in 2022.
Mr Frydenberg said of the new facility: "The Kennedy Community Centre will be a great tribute to John Kennedy, who so famously coached the club to its inaugural premiership win in 1961. These facilities, supported by the Morrison Government, will be an important community asset for those living across Melbourne's southeast."
Mr McCormack said the community aspect was a key factor in the Federal Government's funds allocation.
"I know how important it is to have an inclusive, accessible centre that caters for all levels of athletes, including teams in the AFL, AFLW, VFL and VFLW," he said.
"This is why the Australian Government has unlocked the funding to help create a facility with a community pavilion and oval built to AFLW specifications, featuring gender-equal facilities and amenities, as well as flexible education and learning spaces.
Mr Kennett said the Dingley project would future-proof the club deep, as well as provide much-needed facilities for the community.
"This announcement is a significant step forward in our plans to create a facility in the southeastern suburbs that the entire community can benefit from and embrace," he said.
HAWTHORN'S KENNEDY COMMUNITY CENTRE WILL FEATURE
• A community pavilion and oval built to ensure gender equal facilities and public amenities, specifically for community use and engagement
• Flexible education and learning spaces enabling delivery of flagship, partnered programs that mentor, lead, educate and inspire
• An indoor stadium for community basketball, netball, volleyball, and wheelchair AFL
• A main oval and the Harris Elite Training and Administration Facility which will cater for all Hawthorn teams equally
• Administrative spaces for community and not-for-profit organisations to share the club's resources, creating a healthy, inclusive, and cohesive culture through participation and sport
Originally published as Kennett launches attack over Hawks' facility upgrade