Mayor Bob Abbot with Sports Minister Phil Reeves after he announced $1.5 million funding for the Girraween Sports Precinct in Noosa.
Mayor Bob Abbot with Sports Minister Phil Reeves after he announced $1.5 million funding for the Girraween Sports Precinct in Noosa. John Mccutcheonne

Turf war over Girraween ovals

It is shaping as a turf war at Noosa’s new Girraween Sports Precinct, with claims the Sunshine Coast council has sanctioned the use of an inferior grade of grass covering for its ovals that could lead to serious sporting injuries.

Turf supplier Oz Tuff has called for an immediate halt to the $7 million project on the grounds that the use of cheaper turf could lead to the same sort of notorious footing problems experienced when grass was first laid at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, which had a number of rugby league clubs claiming the surface was dangerous to play on.

“When the multi-million dollar tender was let earlier this year, it was specifically stipulated that turf to be installed had to be a special type highly suited to the wear and tear of regular, high-intensity competitive sports,” Oz Tuff said in a prepared statement.

“The turf selected was a variety known as Oz Tuff.

“However, it has been learned that an inferior grade of turf – sourced at a substantially cheaper price than the originally specified product – has now been sanctioned by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, despite concerns about its ability to meet the demands of its intended use.”

Oz Tuff believes the tender was amended without a probity audit and wants an inquiry into the matter.

The supplier alleges the turf replacement could be half the price of the Oz Tuff product, yet ratepayers will not pocket the $92,000 saving because the overall project tender price agreed to by council remains the same.

“Of greater concern, though, is the public liability threat to council if sports people injure themselves on a turf which is substandard for the purpose, and decide to sue for compensation,” said Oz Tuff supplier Bill Morrow.

“It is my understanding that the alternative turf is about to be laid, which makes this an urgent issue.

“I would like to discuss this with the mayor (Bob Abbot) and full council, because I just feel something is not right and should be investigated by someone independent of the decision-making process,” Mr Morrow said.

A Sunshine Coast council spokeswoman said the project had been awarded to Shadforth, a local business with an excellent reputation.

“The turf supplied will be TifSport turf, which Agri-Science Queensland has confirmed is an equivalent quality turf to Oz Tuff, and easier to maintain – it will be supplied from a local turf farm,” the spokeswoman said.

She said under the terms of the contract, council could accept a variation, including changes to the turf supplied.

“TifSport turf has been tested on numerous sporting fields across South East Queensland...Agri-Science Queensland has also indicated that TifSport turf has been specifically designed for sporting fields, including soccer and rugby.

“Full probity has been followed throughout the process. As part of that probity we sought expert advice from Agri-Science Queensland.

“TifSport turf has been used more widely than Oz Tuff throughout sporting fields across South East Queensland and has developed a reputation over a number of years as being a premium sports turf across the region. It is of equivalent quality and is better value for money than Oz Tuff. There will be no additional cost to the ratepayer for the alternative turf.”


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