Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk remains committed to funneling cash out of regional Queensland and into the south-east corner with a bid for the 2032 Olympic Games. I sent a petition to the Labor government with more than 5,000 signatures calling on the Premier to cancel the 2032 Olympics bid and focus on more important priorities for regional Queensland and the State’s economy. In responding to the petition, Premier Palaszczuk refused to abandon the bid, saying only that discussions were “on hold” due to the Coronavirus impact and claiming the Commonwealth Games were a “great success”.

The Commonwealth Games, also hosted in the south-east corner, were anything but a great success. Those games and, in particular, the way athletes were treated at the closing ceremony were nothing but a joke, being roundly criticised by all and sundry, including the Premier herself, saying organisers should ‘hang their heads in shame’.

What’s worse is the Premier claiming in her response to the petition that the Commonwealth Games cost $1.507 billion for an estimated $2.5 billion boost to Queensland’s Gross State Product ($1.804 billion of which benefited the Gold Coast). You could get the same result standing on the street corner of Cavill Avenue with a wheelbarrow of cash, making it rain $100 bills. What little benefit spilled outside the Gold Coast didn’t make it past Brisbane but it was the whole state that had to fund that $1.5 billion photo opportunity.

The cost of an Olympic Games will be greater by a factor of about 10 and, given the State’s big money earners – mining and agriculture – are both being shut down by the Labor government, it doesn’t make sense to borrow that kind of money. The estimated average cost of hosting an Olympics since 1960 is $12.5 billion. That’s a big ask for regional Queensland to service that kind of debt, especially when any returns that come back to government from hosting the Games will only be used in campaigns against our regional economy.

Now is not the time for frivolities and political grand-standing, when scarce public funds should be directed towards essential services and long-term infrastructure, which will provide widespread economic benefits and permanent jobs. Ordinary people will benefit very little from hosting the Olympic Games.   The Commonwealth Games left the Gold Coast under-whelmed despite the promises that it would deliver for everyone. Regional Queensland was disadvantaged once again at the very time of natural disasters and the drought weighing heavily.

State funding should be prioritised towards education and health with a stronger focus on regional infrastructure like water for agriculture and rural communities, delivering basic bitumen roads, and support for volunteer rural fire brigades.