In 2021, Brisbane officially won the bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and a number of South Brisbane locations have already been announced:
- THE GABBA: The State and Federal Government have announced a whopping $1 billion to demolish and rebuild the Gabba as the main Olympic Stadium, increasing its capacity from 42,000 to 50,000.
- EAST BRISBANE STATE SCHOOL: EBSS is right next to the Gabba Stadium and will obviously be heavily impacted. The government is yet to release the final plans for the school, but visualisations show EBSS completely transformed. You can check out the digital depiction here.
- RAYMOND PARK: Brisbane City Council and the State Government have confirmed plans for Raymond Park in Kangaroo Point to be the location of the warm-up facilities for athletics events held at the Gabba. Notably, Olympics warm-up facilities for athletics usually consist of an eight-lane, 400m circuit warm up track and field – which would take up an area of around 17 000m2. Locals have raised concerns that to fit this infrastructure into Raymond park, it would require acquisition of homes and the removal of many established trees.
- WOOLLOONGABBA CROSS RIVER RAIL SITE: The government is yet to make clear what the Olympics will mean for the Woolloongabba Cross River Rail site. Announcements and visualisations have indicated it will become a ‘pedestrian plaza’ over Main Street, to connect the station with the stadium. In the lead up to the 2020 election, the Labor government also committed to at least 50% green space at this site.
- RIVERFRONT PARKLAND ALONG MONTAGUE ROAD: The Lord Mayor announced that 7 hectares of land along Montague Road will be bought by the government to host the media centre for the games. After the games, they have committed to turning this into what they’re calling ‘multi-use parland and suburban renewal precinct.’ Turning these old industrial sites along Montague Road into parkland is something locals and community groups have long been calling for and is very welcomed – but we’ll need to keep a close eye to make sure proper consultation takes place and this site remains in public hands following the games.
What I’ve been working on in Parliament:
Queensland Labor has failed to conduct any proper community consultation during the bidding process for Brisbane to host the 2032 Olympic. So, I've been using my time in Parliament to call out this lack of transparency.
- Lack of consultation: During budget estimates in 2021 I asked the Premier, “While other cities around the world have held people’s votes to determine community consent for hosting the Olympics, what community consultation has been held with respect to the 2032 Olympics and what resources are being allocated to community consultation going forward?” The Premier responded, “I think there has been a lot of public awareness that Queensland is on the cusp of securing the Olympics. I think it has been broadly in the media: it has been through newspapers, it has been through radio, it has been through television. There have been a number of steps…” I was pretty disappointed the Premier couldn’t give an example of any community consultation the government had conducted or was planning to do – media stories are not consultation. You can find this exchange on page 29 of the Hansard here.
- Protection of East Brisbane State School: I also asked the director general during budget estimates whether the government could guarantee the protection of EBSS and what investigations had been made into establishing QEII as the main stadium, as an alternative to the Gabba. I was told the details around EBSS were a matter for the 2032 Talskforce and that time frames could not be advised. No information was provided about QEII, despite the fact that its purpose built for athletics and already has nearby warm-up facilities. This non answer can be found on page 11 of the Hansard here.
- Budget: The Sydney Olympics cost almost twice as much as we expected and did little to increase tourism. Olympic Games run on average 172% over budget. The finances of the Brisbane Games will need to be held to public scrutiny, or we could end up forking out billions in cost overruns, with no idea what we’ll get in return. In May 2021, I asked the Premier for a more detailed breakdown of the figures the government has published on the economic benefits for Queensland, and was simply told the benefits would come from tourism and trade, as well as other vague areas like health, the utilisation of volunteers, and resident benefits. If you’re interested, you can read the exchange here.
- Impacts on housing: I asked the Premier during estimates in 2022 about what work was being done to protect communities during the Olympics, given the evidence of impacts on house prices as rents. We've suggested the need for rent caps, regulation of short-term accommodation, and a massive build of social housing. The Premier said that the government will be building athletes accommodation, and investigating urban renewal - but nothing it seems to look after existing residents. You can read the question and answer here.
- Olympics Committee & lack of transparency: I made this submission to the Economics and Governance Committee regarding the 'Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games Arrangements Bill 2021', that will set out the committee and governance arrangements for the 2032 Olympics, which you can read here.
What I’ve been working on in the community:
- Given the government has no plans to consult the community, I’ve been working with Councillor Jonathan Sri to fill this gap, hosting community meetings and running a community survey.
- So far we’ve heard from locals that they are concerned about the loss of green space, in particular Raymond Park, the impacts on EBSS, and the possibility of rising rents and community displacements. After all, last time Brisbane hosted a mega event it was Expo '88, which saw real estate prices increasing by 58% across West End, and many long term residents priced out of the neighbourhood.
- Many residents in our local community also see the Olympics as an opportunity to finally get proper investment in jobs, infrastructure and public facilities that the community have been demanding for years, including greenspace, social and public housing, and active and public transport.
- Our community will be one of the most impacted by the Games so to ensure we actually get some positive outcomes, it’s crucial we get in early and make clear community demands. This can only happen through proper consultation and solidarity among local residents keen to protect and fight for our neighbourhood.
- Max Chandler-Mather, Jonathan Sri and I also wrote to the Federal Sports, Education and Infrastructure Ministers in July 2022, which you can read here.
I will be continuing to work with the local community to develop a local Community Vision for the games and would love to get your feedback – What’s important to you? What would you like to see included?