SENATOR THE HON BRIDGET MCKENZIE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
LEADER OF THE NATIONALS IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
SENATOR THE HON ANNE RUSTON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SPORT
SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
18 January 2024
LABOR FINALLY ADMIT STADIUM SPLURGE NEEDS A RETHINK
The Albanese Government have been forced to relent as the Queensland Government accept a commonsense approach recommended previously by a Senate Inquiry.
On Thursday the Queensland Government announced a 60-day infrastructure review into Olympic infrastructure planning, following their decision to implement an independent oversight body after repeated calls from the Coalition which the Albanese Government dismissed as “political-point scoring.”
Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie said Labor have had an embarrassing false start to their Olympic infrastructure spend, with their Brisbane Live project not even lasting one year before a review is called for.
“For all their grandstanding on responsible spending, the Albanese Government has been forced into a review process on their big-ticket project,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Labor governments have yielded to calls from the community, industry experts, sporting bodies and the Coalition, and have hit pause on two very problematic projects, rather than stubbornly proceeding at any cost.
“With the $2.5 billion Brisbane Live Arena facing the axe from the Queensland Premier’s Review, after 20 months the only new infrastructure commitment the PM can point to is a stadium in Tasmania.”
Shadow Minister for Sport, Senator Anne Ruston said the Coalition has spoken to athletes, sporting bodies and local sporting organisations throughout the Senate Inquiry who have all expressed the importance of proper consultation on these important sporting infrastructure decisions, which should not be based on the political interests of state premiers.
“It is appropriate that the Queensland Government has belatedly, but finally taken action to improve oversight into these important funding decisions, but it is incredibly disappointing that the Albanese Government failed to stand up to Anastasia Palaszczuk and achieve this sooner,” Senator Ruston said.
“The Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games is an exciting opportunity for our world-class athletes to compete on home soil and to create a legacy of sporting infrastructure, but it is critical that the Albanese Government shows greater leadership to ensure these opportunities are seized for the benefit of all aspiring Australian athletes.”
The Senate Committee examining Australia’s preparedness to host Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games made recommendations supporting a rethink on infrastructure spending and priorities.
Recommendation 5 – First Interim Report
The committee recommends the Australian Government works with the Queensland Government, affected communities and Olympics Games organising bodies to urgently review the decision to host Athletics events at the Gabba stadium and the associated plans to demolish the East Brisbane State School and temporarily remove community access to Raymond Park. The review should consider the feasibility of alternative options, including using existing infrastructure, and work to find a solution that is acceptable to these communities.
Recommendation 6 – First Interim Report
If the result of a review of the Gabba stadium decision still requires the demolition of the East Brisbane School, the Queensland Government should work with the local community to build a new school in closer proximity to the existing school than the proposed Coorparoo school.
Recommendation 1 – Second Interim Report
The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with the Queensland Government to undertake a review of the potential benefits and opportunities on offer across regional Queensland to support the Brisbane 2032 Games, improve sports outcomes, and subsequently boost regional development. This review should:
- include an audit of all sporting infrastructure in regional Queensland to assess the quality, size, and location of venues to maximise use of venues including through multi-use facilities, reduce duplication and identify infrastructure gaps that act as a barrier to sport participation and high-performance outcomes; and
- build on the work of the Local Government Association of Queensland’s sports inventory project.
Recommendation 3 – Second Interim Report
The committee reiterates its recommendation in the first interim report and recommends that the Australian Government works with the Queensland Government to halt the redevelopment of the Brisbane Cricket Ground (Gabba) until such time that a review of the business case and a socioeconomic cost benefit analysis of the decision to redevelop the Gabba has been completed. This business case should consider the costs of relocating the East Brisbane State School, as stated in the first interim report, as well as the additional costs of displacing sporting codes that currently use the Gabba.
Recommendation 7 – Second Interim Report
The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with the Queensland Government to explore options to improve transparency and accountability mechanisms. As part of this process, an independent and integrated Olympic Coordination Authority, with representation from all three levels of government should be considered as an alternative governance arrangement.