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Put it this way, the 2032 Olympic Games is now ours to lose

Opinion

The IOC has just asked Australia to form a winning relay team with three levels of government and the spendthrift voter, writes Sean Parnell

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As much as south-east Queensland’s Olympic bid is a shot at sustainability, after past hosts paid the price, the region just doesn’t have the transport infrastructure to support it. Not yet, anyway.

That has always been the key to this bid, that the Olympics could be delivered without great expense provided governments chipped in to upgrade roads, public transport and facilities. The infrastructure is needed anyway, so shouldn’t count towards the cost of the games, and becomes the legacy of the games – or so the argument goes.

But even before COVID-19 brought a pandemic and recession, the three levels of government – federal, state and local – were loath to spend money. A much-hyped SEQ City Deal, meant to be the linchpin for the bid, was put off as the Morrison and Palaszczuk governments watched their budgets go into the red and deeper into debt.

The proponents of the bid have talked up the prospect of faster train services to the Gold and Sunshine coasts, and even Toowoomba, to better connect the region and the thousands of sporting types and tourists who will want to come here in 2032. The International Olympic Committee has heard the sales pitch without seeing a signed contract.

Even this morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk seemed to play down the prospect of faster train services. Perhaps she is managing expectations.

The powers that be in Canberra like to choose which projects to support – the Morrison government has funded a study into Brisbane’s North-West Transport Corridor even though the federal Liberals for years refused to contribute to Cross River Rail.

For their part, Palaszczuk, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, and even Australian Olympic boss John Coates have sought to promote their teamwork to date, and the prospect of pulling off a great win. To get this far is commendable.

Coates revealed that Palaszczuk last month talked up Queensland’s resilience, and strong record on COVID-19, to Olympic officials. The required infrastructure upgrades are now being portrayed as economic stimulus, to boost the region in the years to come. Is this the time to shine?

In the coming months, even if the IOC is satisfied by the proposed hosting arrangements, any suggestion that south-east Queensland is unprepared could still see other world cities come into contention. That’s the nature of the game.

The race isn’t over yet but south-east Queensland is in a strong position.

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