Football to continue at Darwin stadium while ICAC probes safety compliance issues

A match is seen being played at TIO Stadium during sunset.

Football fans will continue to stream into Darwin’s major sports stadium while the facility is under investigation by the Northern Territory’s anti-corruption watchdog over safety compliance issues.

Key points:

  • ICAC is investigating the NT government over outstanding safety compliance issues relating to Darwin’s Marrara Stadium
  • Infrastructure Minister Eva Lawler says the stadium is safe, and that it will be certified as soon as possible
  • The Opposition is calling for Ms Lawler to stand down while the ICAC investigation is underway

The NT government has insisted the Marrara Stadium is safe, and that the government is attempting to rectify a longstanding issue with a key safety certificate.

A spokeswoman for AFL NT said spectators would still be welcome at the facility.

“Football will go ahead as planned this weekend,” she said.

The NT’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) confirmed on Thursday his office was investigating the NT government over the stadium’s lack of occupancy certification.

The Opposition has called for Infrastructure Minister Eva Lawler to stand down while the investigation is underway.

The sporting ground, owned by the NT government, was never issued an occupancy permit when it was constructed in 1990.

According to the NT Building Act 1993, people cannot occupy a building without an occupancy permit or until a certificate is issued declaring it “fit for occupation”.

The issue was placed under the spotlight again on Wednesday when Ms Lawler issued a special gazette declaring the stadium temporarily exempt from certification.

Certification proves that items affecting health, safety and amenity, such as water supply and handrails, are fully operational and safe to use.

A match is seen being played at TIO Stadium during sunset.
Marrara Stadium is the home of major AFL and NRL games, and part of the Marrara Sports Complex.(Supplied: Celina Whan / AFLNT)

In a statement on Thursday, Ms Lawler said the exemption was designed to give the building certifier time to assess the facility and provide the required certificate.

This week, the government awarded a new $37,000 tender to a company to complete the final compliance checks.

The tender comes two years after the government first insisted the stadium was safe, and admitted it did not have the required occupancy certificate.

At the time, the government awarded a separate $23,000 contract to an engineering company to deliver status reports relating to mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and fire protection services.

Opposition calls for the minister to stand down

Gerard Maley, deputy leader of the Country Liberal Party, has called on Ms Lawler to immediately stand down while the ICAC investigation is underway.

Speaking to the ABC, Mr Maley said the decision to exempt the stadium from requiring an occupancy certificate set a poor precedent for private developers in the Territory.

“If you build a home, you can’t move in until you get a certificate of occupancy, and you can’t get insurance until you get a certificate of occupancy,” he said.

Mr Maley also raised concerns around insurance arrangements if the stadium was found to be unsafe.

“Is it a fire thing? Is it an emergency exit? Is it a structural thing?” he said.

“It concerns me that instead of fixing the problem, they’ve just moved to exempt it.”

Ms Lawler said the government would cooperate with any ICAC inquiry.



Author: Ivan Robinson