Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


AFL Gather Round

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:31): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the positive impacts of the AFL Gather Round in South Australian regional communities?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:32): I thank the honourable member for his question. The AFL Gather Round here in South Australia was an absolutely resounding success with sold-out matches at fantastic venues and thousands of passionate supporters from all AFL clubs and from every part of Australia all having the opportunity to experience the wonderful things that our great state has to offer—and didn't they love it, and didn't we love it too?

An honourable member: Was the opposition leader there?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I don't know if the opposition leader was there, given that he had expressed discomfort, I think perhaps was his word, around the Gather Round. Maybe I'm misquoting him there, but it was certainly the opposite of wholehearted support for what ended up being a huge boon to our economy, especially to our hospitality venues.

One of the many great features of the Gather Round was the atmosphere. This was noticeable in the Adelaide CBD, in Norwood and in Mount Barker, with each of these locations equally able to participate in the Gather Round. Of course, many regions across the state also had the opportunity to participate and join in the excitement, with the AFL Gather Round Community Roadshow visiting over 20 locations from Murray Bridge, Mount Gambier, the Riverland, Mid North, Yorke Peninsula, West Coast and, of course, many places in between.

As part of these visits to the regions, sporting clinics and community barbecues were held in local schools and clubs. I understand that 10,000 footballs were handed out, notably to junior clubs. Of course, as was often spoken about during the week leading up to the Gather Round, this was also a fantastic event in terms of bringing economic activity to the regions, as many thousands of Victorians and others travelled across the borders. Whether on the coastal route through Mount Gambier, the Riverland route, or the route through Bordertown, the influx of travellers meant that so many local and small businesses experienced these benefits.

Many of these regions, of course, were still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, so to be able to open their towns and regional cities up to such an influx of people pumping money into local economies was very welcome indeed. It was just so heartening to hear stories from small businesses, such as bakeries, wineries, hospitality venues and many others, who reported a fantastic trade on the back of a busy Easter period that was able to continue right through to the Gather Round and then to the LIV Golf tournament. As a state, we can be proud of putting our hand up to hold events like Gather Round and I am personally proud that regional South Australia had such an important part in the success of these past weeks.

I am very confident that the next three Gather Rounds in South Australia, with even more time to plan, and the potential for games to be played in other locations, will be incredibly beneficial to regional communities and provide even more opportunities for our country communities.