Relocating Gold Coast events would be ruin of Games: Clarke

Relocating Gold Coast events would be ruin of Games: Clarke

Allegations of a lack of commitment from Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to the 2018 Commonwealth Games sparks fears key events could be moved to Brisbane.

Gold Coast
THE FUTURE of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast has fallen under a cloud, with the Queensland state government refusing to rule out the possibility of relocating several major events to Brisbane in an effort to reduce the costs associated with hosting the competition.

Former Gold Coast City Council Mayor and Olympic legend Ron Clarke claims that the planned relocation of key Commonwealth Games events to existing facilities in Brisbane would be “the ruin of the Games” and would make the Gold Coast “an appendage rather than the main venue”. Clarke was a key member of the successful bid team that won the right to host the Commonwealth Games during his previous tenure as the city’s mayor.

Tourism and Commonwealth Games Minister Jan Stuckey, a Gold Coast based member of parliament, did not reject Clarke’s accusations and does not deny that plans are being considered to hold swimming events on the outskirts of Brisbane rather than investing in an upgrade of facilities on the Gold Coast.

The potential appropriation of the Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games by the state capital has provoked outrage, with community anger largely directed at recently elected Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, whose alleged lack of commitment to providing council funding and securing critical infrastructure is being blamed for compromising the city’s ability to host the 2018 Games.

Former Gold Coast City Councillor and Mayoral candidate Susie Douglas told Australian Times that community feeling on the Gold Coast is that Mayor Tate is concentrating on projects that have no relevance to the Games and that infrastructure projects such as the athletes village and swimming pool have been put in the ‘too hard basket’ by the Council.

“We are the sixth largest city in Australia and it is time we acted like a major city and fought hard for what we need. The Games is a Gold Coast event and we must have world class facilities,” Douglas said.

“I think the Mayor is misreading community opinion on this issue. The Commonwealth Games announcement attracted tens of thousands of people to a public event. I’m not seeing this level of support for his “five” casinos idea.”

Tate has been a vocal advocate for an increase in the number of casinos on the Gold Coast since his election early this year, with plans to build these facilities in both the city’s central business district and on the popular Wavebreak Island.

Tate has also proceeded with long-debated plans to build a cruise-ship terminal on the Gold Coast, earlier this month committing $1.7 million to the project despite public pressure to scrap plans that community groups claim will destroy the environment and forever alter the city’s coastline.

Douglas said: “The council has not been neglecting its duties, they merely seem to have the wrong priorities. Residents wanted their council to address the basics whereas the new council is currently diverted on trying to build such things as a cruise ship terminal. Correctly they need to look long term with a vision that builds real permanent jobs and lots of them.

“(Mayor Tate) needs to rebuild confidence that the council can do their job.”

Tate’s management of the Gold Coast City Council has been described as ‘arrogant’ by many community leaders in recent months, with the Gold Coast Bulletin recently blacklisting the mayor and refusing to mention his name in print until he made an effort to respond to public concerns about his agenda.

Editor of the Gold Coast Bulletin Peter Gleeson wrote: “It seems anyone who disagrees with Cr Tate is dismissed as irrelevant. The reality is that Cr Tate must be held accountable and that’s our job.

“Today we take the unprecedented step of not recognising his power and influence.”

The danger of many Commonwealth Games events being held in Brisbane rather than on the Gold Coast in 2018 is heightened by the city council’s inability to negotiate with the Queensland state government in regards to funding for the upcoming 2014 Pan-Pacific Games.

While swimming events were intended to be held at a redeveloped Southport Pool on the Gold Coast, squabbling between council and the state government has led to the competition being moved to the ageing Chandler Swimming Complex on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Concern over the cost of hosting the Games comes at a difficult time for the Queensland state government, with recently elected Liberal-National Party Premier Campbell Newman attempting to deliver on his mandate to slash the state budget and eliminate unnecessary financial expenditure. This cost-cutting has resulted in significant redundancies within the public service and has attracted criticism from unions.

(AAP Photo/Dave Hunt)

Paul Bleakley

Paul Bleakley

Paul Bleakley is a journalist and academic raised on Queensland's Gold Coast. After graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism, he went on to teach high school English and History in his hometown. Paul's work on democratic revolutions is featured in the book 'The Cultivation of Peace'. He loves reality TV, wandering aimlessly and wearing thongs (flip flops) on cold days.