ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry has slammed the "gendered approach" of the federal government, calling out the decision to keep the AIS Arena closed indefinitely as denying women's sport equal opportunity.
The arena was closed indefinitely in June, leaving the ACT without an indoor venue to accommodate large crowds for elite sport.
The Sunday Canberra Times last month revealed all event bookings this year had been cancelled, with no work to open the arena completed.
Ms Berry said the federal government's decision to close the arena left women's teams the Canberra Capitals and Giants Netball without a home and denied them the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
"It goes along with the whole sort of gendered approach of the Coalition government. We have an AIS Arena that was used predominantly by the Canberra Capitals and the Giants Netball; both those teams have now been displaced and don't have a home at the moment," she said.
"This is just another way that women aren't getting the same opportunities as men with the support from the Coalition government to actually get this facility going along while we look at another proposal."
She stopped short of saying the lack of action to reopen the arena was sexist, but said the Commonwealth wasn't supporting women's sport.
"If they really did want to take an approach that meant they were going to support women and women in sport, they would spend the time and resources on the arena to keep it going while we investigate other opportunities," she said.
Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck did not respond to questions about Ms Berry's comments but encouraged the ACT government to develop a modern arena to meet the needs of the city.
"The reality is the AIS Arena is 40 years old and is currently not fit-for-purpose," he said.
"Should the ACT government have a proposal to upgrade the AIS Arena, then I will carefully consider it.
"In the meantime, the federal government is continuing to examine the future needs of the broader AIS site, ensuring it is best equipped for Australia's high performance sport programs."
Giants Netball officials last week hit out at the inability to hold elite netball matches in the ACT, saying the closure of the AIS Arena with no alternative options was "embarrassing".
The team will play all home games in Sydney this season, despite a deal with the territory government to bring one game a season to Canberra.
The ACT government has maintained it would not buy the arena, but has repeatedly called for the Commonwealth to keep it running while it looked at alternatives.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr called on the Commonwealth to finish an upgrade of the arena which would allow the ACT time to build a new facility.
"We've determined that the ACT government will not be buying AIS Arena and so what we are looking at is the Commonwealth puts in place a small investment to keep it going for several more years as we contemplate our options for a new arena," Mr Barr said in August.
The last major sporting fixture at the arena was the WNBL grand final played between the Canberra Capitals and Southside Flyers in March last year, which attracted a crowd of more than 4400.
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