Liberal Tangney candidate Ben Morton courts votes with Treasurer Scott Morrison at Willetton Basketball Association


Liberal candidate for Tangney Ben Morton, Willetton Basketball Association chairman Phil Nixon and Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison discuss plans for a WBA expansion.
Liberal candidate for Tangney Ben Morton, Willetton Basketball Association chairman Phil Nixon and Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison discuss plans for a WBA expansion.

FEDERAL Treasurer Scott Morrison dropped in on the Willetton Basketball Association (WBA) to hear about the club’s $10.4 million expansion plans as part of a three-day tour of Perth last week.

Accompanied by Liberal candidate for Tangney Ben Morton, Mr Morrison met WBA chairman Phil Nixon and an assortment of staff and volunteers to review plans for the long-awaited project.

Mr Morrison stopped short of promising the $5.2 million the club hopes to receive through the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF), but said it was always useful to review potential applicants in person.

“Today was an opportunity for me to see first-hand what is involved with the project, but there is proper process for considering any applications,” he said.

“A good local member will make sure that those sitting around the Cabinet table have a good first-hand knowledge of projects in there region.

“The most impressive part of the (WBA) proposal is that they have been able to raise $650,000 themselves and will commit to more.

“The missing link to get the application to the next stage is to get a clear view out of the council (on its funding commitment).”

City of Canning councillors will decide on whether to take out a $2.2 million loan to commit to the expansion at their council meeting on June 21.

That amount will then be matched by the State Government, with the WBA to provide $800,000 as well as 30 per cent of the City of Canning’s interest payments for the term of the loan.

It is hoped the Federal Government would then support an application to fund the remainder of the project.

Mr Morton said if elected he would advocate for the expansion in Canberra but his first priority was ensuring the Canning council got behind the project.

“If the council decides not to support this, I’ll be looking through every line item of the Canning budget to find the money for them in the first instance,” he said.

“Once they put in, I’ll be able to go to Canberra and really support that NSRF application funding as well.”

Mr Nixon said the expansion had been in the pipeline since 2003 and the WBA’s more than 3500 registered players meant the current facilities were stretched well beyond their limit.

“We constantly have a waiting list that is typically anywhere from 100 to nearly 200 and they are people who are prepared to pay $20 just to be on the waiting list,” he said.

“It is a constant battle.

“We already operate on three other sites on Saturdays that are catering to 800 kids.

“In 2013, we went and took out some courts at Striker Leeming thinking they would last us maybe six months, but we filled them in a month.

“Then it was exactly the same scenario when we went to All Saints College, and now also Courtside in Canning Vale.”