Collie Motorplex hits back at political accusations

Collie Motorplex: South West Motoring Group board vice chairman Terry Massara and manager Anna Farrell. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

Collie Motorplex: South West Motoring Group board vice chairman Terry Massara and manager Anna Farrell. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

The Collie Motorplex Board has hit back at accusations from Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray that it is 'dysfunctional' and a 'disgrace'.

The Collie Mail published a story last week about Mr Murray's explosive comments, which came during a parliamentary debate also involving Nationals WA MP Peter Rundle.

The board said it was "disappointed that they have been dragged into a political dispute between Mr Murray and Mr Rundle".

"It is a shame that Mr Murray and Mr Rundle had not asked to meet with the board, as we would be very happy to work with any interested parties," it said.

The board said it was "astonished" it had been accused of "sitting on its bum" by Mr Murray.

It said it accomplished several important tasks in the past financial year, including:

  • A 90 per cent resurface and improvement of the original short track
  • The planning, coordination and execution of 73 events midweek and weekends (this does not include the seven events which were cancelled due to the track resurface or four confidential private hires) including a National Historic Motorcycling event.
  • Facilitation of a financial audit in accordance with Collie Motorplex becoming a Tier 2 association
  • Provided sponsorship to WA Disabled Sports Association, University of WA, Curtin University, Asthma WA, Driftability and two junior motorcycle racers.

The board said the comments made my Mr Murray were simply untrue.

"The 24 participants and trainers (from the Aboriginal Work Group referred to) were openly welcomed by the board and staff, and remained on site for 12 weeks," it said.

"This arrangement was set up by a solely private training company with no involvement from Collie Motorplex, apart from generously letting them train at our facility free of charge.

"Following the success of this course, two more courses were conducted at Collie Motorplex, both for the duration of 12 weeks, and the mutual benefits received by all parties was an overall pleasing result.

"The prisoners were utilised to assist with constructing tyre barriers for the extended track."

According to the board, the Collie Motorplex has also created job opportunities by employing five local people in full-time positions for five months.

"We also continue to support the 'Adult Justice System' who have attended the site 10 times since January, with 37 people assisting and a total of 50 hours community work performed."

The biggest claim made by Mr Murray, however, was that the board was not using grant funds provided by the state government.

Representing Mr Murray in parliament, Sue Ellery said the WA government had spent $1.314 million from Royalties for Regions and $1.67 million from sport and recreational grants since 2016. Mr Murray said he had asked the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries to investigate why the group had not spent the funding for its intended purpose.

During the state election, the government committed $314,000 to the Collie Motorplex to upgrade the safety of the facility to ensure it would receive its licence to host the 2019 Australian Historic Road Racing Championship, as well as $15,000 to help promote the historic motorcycle races and $100,000 for promotion of the motorplex itself.

However the board dispute this and said Mr Murray was ill-informed.

"With regard to the $314,000.00 we were not made aware of it until the week it was announced, and the funds were not made available immediately as stated," the board said.

"We were encouraged by Mick Murray to apply to the Federal BBRF program, which made sense because the Commonwealth would match dollar for dollar. This was not a premeditated strategy, rather an opportunity to gain some much-needed additional funding.

"The $15,000 funding to help promote the historic motorcycle race, was not for advertising of the event, nor was it granted to Collie Motorplex," it said.

"This was granted to the Historic Competition Motorcycle Club of WA who, as per the agreement, were required to utilise it on marquees, generators, toilets, fuel trailer, and lighting."

It claimed advertising of the event was extensive, including flyers and posters in towns between Bunbury and Perth, social media advertising, and TV and Radio promotion throughout the South-West and Perth during the four weeks prior to the event.

The board said the $100,000 in funding had been invested into a complete marketing strategy, which was currently in the planning process.

"The Motorplex has developed a Marketing Plan Proposal, incorporating branding, marketing brochures, website, digital content, merchandising, membership program, regional marketing links, sponsorship, and event marketing," it said.

"An Expression of Interest for this strategy is arranged to go out for a second round... to both local and national marketing contractors and a contract to be awarded before the end of 2019."

A Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries spokesperson confirmed that an investigation would go ahead.

"Following significant state government investment into the Collie Motorplex, minister Murray has requested the department engage with Motoring South West to determine that the investment outcomes meet government and public expectations," he said.

"This includes ensuring grant agreement requirements have been met and all money spent appropriately."

The spokesperson said it was withholding a final $50,000 from the Shire of Collie's track improvement grant agreement with the motorplex while it waits for evidence of project completion and expenditure.

The Collie Mail has published the board's full response here