Peter Malinauskas’ $155 million pool sinks hopes

Thursday 22 June, 2023

A devastated 87-year-old man living with disability who uses the Adelaide Aquatic Centre every day is one of thousands who will lose access to the facility for at least 16 months to accommodate Peter Malinauskas’ project blowout that includes a new $55 million waterslide.

The long closure is despite the Malinauskas Labor Government promising otherwise, saying the transition from the old facility to the new one would be seamless.

Water Polo SA is amongst a range of groups also concerned there may not be suitable pools available for them during the long closure.

They are seeking help from the Malinauskas Labor Government to understand a “number of design aspects not finalised” and assistance with “temporary arrangements” to support user groups.

The old aquatic centre will be closed in August 2024 with the new facility not expected to be completed until December 2025 – the early shutdown will also impact 126 employees.

A community meeting will be held with Adelaide MP Lucy Hood tonight and is expected to draw a strong crowd including parents whose children will now be uprooted from swimming lessons.

It comes amid revelations that the new pool - which won’t even reach international competition standard - has now blown out even further to $155 million, with Adelaide City Council set to approve $20 million in ratepayer funds for demolishment of the old site.

Leader of the Opposition David Speirs slammed Peter Malinauskas for being “all show with no substance”.

“Poolside Pete was quick to rip off his shirt when Labor guaranteed it was going to deliver a new aquatic centre by the start of 2026, but he was careful not to mention that thousands of pool users would lose their home for 16 months,” Mr Speirs said.

“The Liberal Party is supportive of a redeveloped aquatic centre but before the election this project was going to cost South Australian taxpayers $25 million, that’s blown out by more than $100 million and regular users of the aquatic centre are being left in the lurch.

“This is another clear example of Peter Malinauskas and Labor breaking promises and the losers in this are the young, elderly, those with disabilities and sports groups who were guaranteed the aquatic centre wouldn’t close. Now they’ve got nowhere to go.

“The project also raises serious question marks over Peter Malinauskas’ priorities - he’s favoured spending an extra $55 million on a waterslide over fixing ramping and providing broad cost of living relief to South Australians who are now $20,000 worse off under Labor.”

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Vincent Tarzia, said he has heard from a large number of groups in the community that are devastated by the closure.

“People want answers because they’ve been blindsided by Labor’s aquatic centre closure announcement and Lucy Hood needs to come to tonight’s meeting with solutions to this problem that is impacting thousands of people,” Mr Tarzia said.

“Adelaide Aquatic Centre users have been left in the lurch because Peter Malinauskas can’t manage the budget and decided spending an extra $55 million on a waterslide was a bright idea during a cost of living crisis and when our health system is on its knees.

“There are so many groups that will be impacted by this 16-month closure, including children who are learning to swim and disabled community members who use the facility to keep fit and mobile through crucial programs like Aquarobics.

“Then on the other hand we have athletes, like those from Water Polo SA, who may not be able to continue doing what they love because they’re being kicked out.”