The Melbourne Football Club has been embroiled in a fundraising scandal in the notorious Casey council’s election.
The Club’s captain Cameron Bruce and Club football manager Chris Connolly are listed as “celebrity guests” at a campaign fundraising event for controversial incumbent councillors Socialist Left aligned Wayne Smith, Janet Halsall and Liberal party member Lorraine Wreford. The three have combined as the “Three Amigos” in an attempt to assemble a massive campaign warchest.
All three voted in favour of a deal that effectively gave $1.4 million of ratepayers money to the Melbourne Football Club in a highly controversial arrangement that sees the club occupy council facilities rent-free for as long as thirty years.
Concerned ratepayers in Casey have told VEXNEWS that this arguably corrupt arrangement “smacks of payback”.
Legal experts have expressed fears that if the Melbourne football club is involved in helping promote the election of councillors who’d voted for massive financial benefits to the club that they might be in breach of Victorian law that prohibits influencing the decisions of councillors with inducements.
Councillor Halsall – linked to the Labor Party’s Socialist Left grouping – championed the funding to the Melbourne Football Club as Mayor. One of the benefits she listed when attempting to explain the controversial decision was:
Community identification with an elite AFL club, and subsequent increased community pride.
Other councillors like Labor moderate Kevin Bradford have expressed concerns over the expenditure of ratepayers’ funds on the debt-ridden football club. Bradford pushed for the re-allocation of the $1.4 million to residents of the Brooklands Green estate which has been poisoned by a Casey municipal landfill with the potentially lethal toxin methane gas.
His frequent opponent right-winger Steve Beardon – who works in a print-shop but claims to be a substantial property investor – has been a loud supporter of the million-dollar gift pack to the football club.
â€œIâ€™m hearing the community saying â€˜we want an AFL club in Casey’â€ Cr Beardon told a council meeting. When challenged to name one community group or ratepayer who wanted to spend millions to benefit an elite AFL football club, Beardon was silent.