East Brisbane State School: The State and Federal Governments have announced a whopping $2.7 billion to demolish and rebuild the Gabba as the main Olympic Stadium, increasing its capacity from 42,000 to 50,000. To do this, the government are pushing ahead with plans to close East Brisbane State School, which shares a block with the Gabba. The school community have made it clear that there needs to be a state school within the catchment (you can see the results of their survey here). However, the Education Minsiter is now pushing ahead with sham consultation, with three options, all of which mean sending kids to schools outside of the catchment, leaving this fast growing area without a school. The Federal government have refused to fund the Gabba rebuild - they know this is a toxic, destructive project.
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. But we know that a warm-up track will not fit in the park. Despite months of lying to the community, and saying that no homes would be aquired, the government are now saying that homes will be affected.
The Gabba Priority Development Area: The state government has announced their plans to extend the Gabba ‘Priority Development Area’. Priority Development Areas (PDAs) are a huge planning loophole designed for the government to ram through controversial projects. If this goes ahead, huge sections of Woolloongabba, East Brisbane and South Brisbane could be redeveloped with next to no community consultation or input. You can see the extended map here.
Huge Cost Impacts: The government's budget for the Olympics Games has already blown out, and we can expect the budget to only get bigger. Olympic Games run over budget by on average 172% - that billions of dollars being redirected from healthcare, housing, education, into one mega-event. Let the government know that we need money for essential services - not the Olympics.
Riverfront parkland in Kurilpa/South Brisbane: 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 a ‘multi-use parkland 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 Olympics. 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: We've been working closely with the school community, who have made it clear that there needs to be a school within the catchment. 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 Taskforce and that time frames could not be advised. No information was provided about QEII, despite the fact that it's 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. In 2019, Labor commissioned a massive accounting firm, KPMG, to analyse the economic impact of the games. Initially, they estimated that the games would provide Queensland with $7.4 billion worth of ‘quantifiable economic benefits.’ Then in May, they updated their analysis, increasing this figure to $8.1 billion – but $3.5 billion of that is ambiguous ‘social benefits’ like ‘prestige’ and ‘civic pride'. Since then, infrastructure costs have further blown out. This is money that is being redicrected from schools, hospitals, housing, and other essential infrastrcture.
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', which 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 and MP for Griffith Max Chandler-Mather to fill this gap, hosting community meetings and running a community survey.
- We've held many community meetings, and a rally outside the school in 2022.
- 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, the last time Brisbane hosted a mega event 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.
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You can visit the official Olympics website here.
To see Brisbane City Council's page on the Olympics go here.
To see the QLD Government's page go here.