NQ infrastructure the loser from Olympic bid: Katter

Brisbane Olympic bid figures questioned amid NQ push-back


Economists have joined Katter's Australian Party leader Robbie Katter in questioning the value of Brisbane's 2032 Olympic Games bid, in the wake of it being given 'preferred city' status last week.


Economists have joined Katter's Australian Party leader Robbie Katter in questioning the value of Brisbane's 2032 Olympic Games bid, in the wake of it being given 'preferred city' status last week.

Mr Katter was quick to describe it as another example of the state government pandering to the south east of the state, which regional Queenslanders would shoulder the burden for when "the inevitable cost blow-out occurs".

"Every single person knows what an outrageous lie it is that the Olympics will generate $10 billion for regional communities," he said.

"We'll be left carrying the can. People outside of the south east corner will cop another kick in the guts and as for the tourism spin-off - you'll make more in a week in coal mines than you'll see from that."

One of the big losses Mr Katter saw for North Queensland was in major infrastructure projects as spending was directed to social infrastructure in the south east, a point of view supported by North Queensland economist Colin Dwyer.

In a message to his mailing list last week, Mr Dwyer said a south east Queensland 2032 Olympics would crowd out regional infrastructure projects for a long time.

Mr Dwyer, who has been an LNP candidate for Mundingburra and a KAP candidate for Herbert, and is the founder of Our Fair Share, said a successful bid was likely to experience large cost over-runs, blowing out state debt.

Brisbane-based economic consultant Gene Tunny said on Sunday he was also concerned about cost over-runs, saying it appeared to him that the state government hadn't properly crunched the numbers.

"All the state government appears to have published is a 24-page Value Proposition Assessment Executive Summary, which it released early last year," he said.

"I suspect it didn't publish the full report because it would raise too many questions about the merits of the Olympics bid.

"The report does not provide any tabulations of expected costs, both operational and capital costs, to compare with expected benefits.

"The government hasn't shown its calculations or its underlying assumptions supporting its confidence the Olympics will be a net positive for the state."

Government assurance

The Palaszczuk government's Regional Development Minister Glenn Butcher said if Queensland was successful in its bid, an estimated 130,000 direct jobs and $20 billion in increased visitor expenditure would be generated.

He said half of that would be spent in regional Queensland.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said it was government policy that the Olympics, if held, would need to deliver a legacy for communities across the state.

"Townsville could benefit from a range of opportunities, including Games hosting, pre-Games training, increased tourism and business and supply chain opportunities," he said.

Mr Katter said while there might be a slight increase in outback tourism, the benefit outside south east Queensland would be minute compared to the financial burden.

"We're sick of producing the wealth for Queensland so Brisbane can have a party. This is what the Olympics will amount to for them," he said.

"We can't even get adequate health services in the regions, like proper dialysis facilities. It seems there's an insatiable appetite by modern governments of any persuasion to distract the public with large social infrastructure.

"The problem with the Olympics is it's expensive, it costs us our taxes, and if they're spending money on these large social infrastructure projects, it means there's no money for our hospitals and schools.

"Labor needs to end its self-indulgence with the south east and divert bid funding for game-changing infrastructure projects that will accelerate the north.

"It infuriates me when I've got hospitals being downgraded in Julia Creek and upgrades needed in hospitals throughout the region and dams to be built that can't be funded because the government is committing money to large social infrastructure projects."

Continuing the theme of cost blow-outs, Mr Katter pointed to the $US15 billion for London 2012 and $US21.9 billion figure for Sochi in 2014.

"There's every chance that could happen if the Olympics come to Brisbane - and the majority of Queensland will be poorer for it."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the successful hosting of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games had shown what the state could do.

"We built no white elephants and it returned money to Treasury," she said in a social media post on the announcement.

Gene Tunny said the state government's assertion that the Olympics would be cost neutral only applied to the Games' operating budget, not to new venues, venue upgrades, or other infrastructure built for the Games, which could amount to seven new venues.

"It's clear that the state government committed to bidding for the Olympics without having a firm idea what it would ultimately cost Queensland taxpayers," he said. "Anyone who has seen how investment decisions are made in private sector companies would be appalled by this lack of feasibility analysis and due diligence."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among those to welcome the decision by the International Olympic Committee last week to enter into exclusive negotiations for the 2032 Games.

He said Queensland's bid had long been supported by all levels of government.

Opposition Infrastructure spokeswoman Fiona Simpson said that to host any major event, infrastructure projects need to be accelerated.

"But it has to be generational infrastructure, built by Queenslanders, and throughout the state," she said.

The operational cost of running the games in Queensland would be offset by a minimum $2.5 billion contribution from the IOC, plus sponsorship and ticket sales.

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