The matter I wish to raise is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the minister to correspond with the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust with a view to progressing the negotiations between the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) and the trust regarding the lease agreements. I understand the renewal of the agreements with the MRC will continue the long‑term operation of the racecourse, and I understand it is a complex process. Certainly it is important that the community get absolute maximum benefit out of this agreement. At the same time we also need to preserve the great racing history of Caulfield.
My major concern is with regard to the land at the centre of the racecourse, particularly around community and sporting purposes. Last year the minister and I launched a $1.8 million upgrade which was funded by the MRC. On the same day we had a fun run, attended by 1000 people from the local community and with 500 people doing the run, which raised $50 000 for local community charities. This particular upgrade included a barbecue, a jogging track, picnic areas, a small sportsground and a walking track. One of the things that this area does not have is an activated sporting area. No matter what we do — and we have certainly been very active, and it is something I have been working on since being elected — we cannot get people into the centre of the racecourse. We are desperately short of open space in the Caulfield and Glen Iris areas. Unfortunately, because of the racetracks and the difficulty in accessing the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve, it is very hard to get people into the centre of that racecourse.
We know, after lots of hard work, that the only way to do that is to activate it through sporting grounds. We need to allow football, soccer and even baseball and cricket clubs to use these facilities. I understand that the MRC has moved a long way since our first discussions and is keen to provide the sorts of sporting facilities that create a Happy Valley at Caulfield. If you think of Hong Kong and the Happy Valley Racecourse and how that activates the centre, you realise we have a great opportunity to activate the centre here in Caulfield at the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.
The big issue is that the longer these negotiations continue, the longer it is that the sporting clubs in my electorate are locked out of this valuable piece of land. We are locked out, and in fact we are landlocked in terms of sporting opportunities in my area. It is really important that we do something about it. I believe there have been three mediations and 12 months of negotiations — it has been a long, drawn‑out process — and I think now is the time to get some real action on this to ensure that we open that space for the sporting clubs in my area.