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Letter to Premier: Impact of Olympics on South Brisbane Residents

Dear Premier,

I write with regards to last night’s announcement that Brisbane will host the 2032 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

I appreciate that a huge amount of time and effort has gone into preparing Brisbane’s bid, and preliminary planning for facilities and infrastructure. 

However, what has been missing to date is any consultation with Queenslanders, and particularly those Queenslanders who live in the neighbourhoods surrounding the Gabba Stadium. I asked in the estimates hearing on 16 July what consultation has happened to date, and your response was that there has been a lot of media coverage in Brisbane’s bid to date. As someone who has professional experience in community engagement, and now in-depth experience engaging and consulting with the South Brisbane community on a range of issues, media coverage does not at all constitute consultation. 

I note that evidence from other host cities shows both positive and negative outcomes for local communities. There is limited evidence to support claims of significant tourism boosts, and evidence that cost estimates for host cities tend to balloon on average by 172 per cent. 

Many in the South Brisbane community see the Olympics as an opportunity to finally get proper investment in jobs, infrastructure and public facilities that the community have been calling for for years, including greenspace, social and public housing, and active and public transport. I feel that these measures are not just an opportunity, but an imperative for the community that will be most affected by the Games, and the lead-up planning and construction. 

Alongside Cr Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba Ward, I have been engaging the South Brisbane community to discuss the 2032 Olympics, including two public community meetings (17 July and 24 July) and a survey with 428 responses to date. We will be continuing to engage the community, and provide this feedback to the government to incorporate into your planning.

Key concerns raised by community members (with demonstrative quotes in footnotes) included:

  • The Olympics demand the allocation of huge amounts of public money
  • The lack of community consultation to date
  • Risk of rising rents, housing affordability and community displacements
  • Investment in Olympics infrastructure at the expense of other essential infrastructure
  • Negative environmental impacts
  • Loss of greenspace and Raymond Park
  • The risk to East Brisbane State School

While expected benefits included:

  • Jobs and boosts to local economy
  • Upgrades to local infrastructure and legacy infrastructure
  • Promotion of sports and South East Queensland

Based on this preliminary, ongoing consultation, I call on the government to make these commitments to the South Brisbane community:

  • A community ‘seat at the table’ for full consultation at every step of the process, and all aspects of the Olympics planning and running
  • A commitment to engage with First Nations elders and communities
  • Urgent measures to maintain affordability and cost of living in the surrounding neighbourhoods, including rate caps, rent caps, and investment in social housing
  • A commitment to existing residents that they won’t be priced out of the neighbourhood
  • A guarantee that East Brisbane State School will not only be maintained, but enhanced, and included as part of Gabba redevelopment planning.
  • A commitment that Raymond Park be returned to the community as a park and sports facility as soon as possible after the games, and additional greenspace of an equivalent size and quality provided to the East Brisbane and Kangaroo Point community
  • Investment in further greenspace for the Woolloongabba, Kangaroo Point and East Brisbane community
  • Ensuring the Cross-River Rail station site in Woolloongabba is developed in line with community needs and expectations, including public greenspace, social housing and community facilities, and the whole site to stay in public hands
  • Any development in the neighbourhood must adhere to neighbourhood plans, with a focus on sustainable affordable housing
  • Investment in public and active transport, including bike lanes, and cross-neighbourhood bus services
  • Ensuring that new infrastructure stays in public hands, and designed for ongoing public use, including housing and accommodation
  • Protection of nearby heritage sites, including the Broadway Hotel and East Brisbane Bowls Club
  • Jobs and employment opportunities for local residents, with a focus on long-term, sustainable jobs. 
  • A commitment to ongoing reporting and transparency regarding investment of public money
  • Ongoing social and economic monitoring regarding the impacts of Games planning and implementation
  • A commitment to sustainable, long-term housing for any people sleeping rough, rather than employing ‘move-on’ techniques as seen during the Commonwealth Games and G20

I note a number of issues and gaps in the KPMG economic, social and environmental analysis that I will be seeking clarification on, including:

  • The evidence base for projected tourism numbers, given the KPMG lists mixed data, including evidence of neutral or negative impacts on tourist visit?
  • Evidence regarding support for small business, given the experience of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games?
  • The evidence base for the health benefits, including the reduced risk of falls and reductions in crime - what evidence is there of this from other cities that have hosted the Olympic games?
  • What is the breakdown of the $4.6bn and $3.5bn in economic and social benefits?
  • Will the government commit to publishing any binding agreements between the IOC and the Queensland Government before they're signed, and commit to putting those agreements to a vote in Parliament before they're signed given they'll bind future governments?
  • Will the government commit to a transparent and democratic process for delivering the Games which includes genuine input from local residents?
  • What is the maximum penalty under the Host agreements which Queensland and Brisbane are liable to pay if the Games cannot go ahead as planned or if the IOC is not satisfied with our implementation of the agreements?
  • What is the breakdown of venue upgrade / construction costs for all Olympic venues?
  • Will you release the full version of the 2021 KPMG report on the benefits?

I look forward to working closely with yourself, and the Minister for Sport, as consultation and planning proceeds, to get the best outcomes for Queensland and the South Brisbane community.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office on 3724 9100 if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail.

Kind regards,

Amy MacMahon

Member for South Brisbane

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