The future of one of the longest running show societies has been cast into doubt with notification its showground will be acquired by the NSW Government to build a new football stadium.
The Department of Infrastructure sent the acquisition notice for the 177-year-old, 11-hectare site to Penrith Show's chief executive officer, Tash Greentree, on Monday, July 4, which she said blindsided the community organisation.
"The acquisition notice has come without a plan for the continuity of the show society in place, despite Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres assuring us it would be," Ms Greentree said.
"He had indicated a 'win-win' would be reached in any negotiations.
"We feel the government has arbitrarily made decisions about our future and acquired land before a plan has even been endorsed.
"It appears that no consideration is being given to assist us to continue operations in any way.
"It's not just about the future, this is hurting us now.
"With the future of their jobs uncertain, we have people leaving our organisation for jobs with security.
"We have staff who have been here for 40 years and 34 years respectively who have no clue about what their future holds.
"We are extremely disappointed that things have moved this way.
"They can't just sacrifice 177 years of history like this."
The showgrounds hosts six harness events a month, weekly Wednesday markets, as well as other important community events throughout the year.
Ms Greentree is fearful that the compulsory acquisition will not provide the monies needed for the society to relocate.
"We want to be able to provide the community and stakeholders with the services we do currently," she said.
We want to be able to provide the community and stakeholders with the services we do currently.- Tash Greentree, Penrith Showgrounds CEO
"We are not sure that we will receive the money required to purchase new land and build the same infrastructure which is at the current site.
"We want to be able to continue to stage race meetings, hold markets and to protect the wages of our staff.
"We can't say to 100 people to please wait a year and then come back to us.
"We have lost confidence that our protection is being thought of."
The showground has been working with Penrith Council since 2018 to come up with a proposal to come up with an appropriate proposal for the site or to rezone and create a fit-for-purpose new home.
The Department of Infrastructure has said the standard NSW Government process for property acquisition will be followed, but when asked about why the land is being acquired before a plan is in place and what considerations are being made to assist the show society to relocate, they preferred to talk about the state-of-the-art new stadium.
Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Western Sydney failed to comment when asked.
AgShows NSW president Peter Gooch, who himself has had an association with the Penrith Show for more than 55 years, said the treatment of Penrith Showgrounds is becoming an all too familiar story.
Mr Gooch believes the show plays an important role in the community.
"This show started in 1843 and is the second oldest show society in NSW," he said.
"I started as a 15-year-old member of Epping Junior Farmers and continue to exhibit and judge poultry.
"They have at least 15 schools participate and I have judged the poultry section for it, it's a fantastic event for young people."
Mr Gooch has concerns around the future of the Penrith Show.
"There is a genuine concern for this great old community showground," he said.
"It has never been on freehold land and I'm not sure it's a legitimate way of using the compulsory acquisition legislation for a sporting code activity.
"The New Crown Lands Management Act of 2016 is not working for us and transferring the control to the Local Government Act where councils control the showgrounds is turning into a nightmare for some show societies.
"Its starting to be a problem particularly for metropolitan showgrounds, but is now spreading to the bush in centres like Kempsey, Kiama and The Rock to name a few."
"I'm going to meet with Crown Lands Minister Kevin Anderson to have him fix what his previous colleagues and the now resigned Crown Lands Commissioner professor Richard Bush couldn't."
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