Cracks beginning to show as Gold Coast demands a seat at the Olympics table

The Gold Coast, humiliatingly rejected from the powerful organising committee for the south-east Queensland Olympic Games, is calling for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to legislate to guarantee the city a seat at the table.

Dec 01, 2021, updated Dec 01, 2021
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

In the latest blow up in the fractious preparations for the 2032 Olympics to be held in Brisbane and across south-east Queensland, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate has demanded the State Government step in over a “flawed” decision to lock the Gold Coast out of preparations amid petty politicking and Brisbane power plays.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner late last week officially passed over the Gold Coast in favour of appointing Redlands Mayor Karen Williams to the 20-person organising committee board, sparking the furious response from Tate on behalf of the co-host city.

Tate claimed the move was payback for the Gold Coast for pulling out of the Council of Mayors, South East Queensland (COMSEQ) ahead of the Olympic host city announcement in July to go it alone in lobbying for city deals.

“As we both know, the Gold Coast is being punished for not being a member of the Council of Mayors,” Tate wrote in a letter to the Premier.

Tate said while he respected Mayor Williams, he had raised “that insipid and short-sighted decision” to not appoint a Gold Coast representative directly with Schrinner. Schrinner told News Corp that Tate had ruled himself out of a role as he was not a COMSEQ member.

However, Tate said the Gold Coast was contributing more assets to the 2032 Games than any other city, including Brisbane.

“Given those facts, I find it incongruous that the Gold Coast would not formally command a position on a Board of 20 people,” Tate told the Premier.

“In my view, residents of the Gold Coast will quite rightly see this as a slight on our city and a classic case of ‘Brisbane knows what is best for the Gold Coast’.”

He called on the State Government to ensure the Gold Coast’s involvement or risk justification for the appointments being “rightly seen by the Gold Coast population as empty words able to be manipulated at will for petty political interests.”

The spat over the makeup of the organising committee has been simmering since June, when the Gold Coast officially pulled out of the key COMSEQ group.

The deal-breaker that triggered the rift and the Gold Coast’s exit from the COMSEQ was Schrinner foreshadowing back then that there would be no room on the organising committee for Tate.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the chair of the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group, Schrinner wrote that he was not only appointing himself to lead the committee’s mayoral representation, but he would personally be nominating two other representatives.

Tate shot back saying south-east Queensland would not even be in a position to launch an Olympic bid if it was not for the success of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Rather than stay in the Olympic alliance, that he accused of systematically dumping the regions and morphing into ‘Brisbane 2032’, he said the Gold Coast would go it alone to secure city deals for city projects and lock in state and federal funding in the lead up to the Games.

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“The Council of Mayors for nine years has been lobbying Federal and State for city deals. You haven’t achieved any of them. I want to leave the team that keeps batting ducks,” Tate said in July.

Tate said today that the Gold Coast would not rejoin COMSEQ.

“As it stands, we have no intention on rejoining COMSEQ as the annual membership fee for our council was around $350,000 and I can’t see that as value-for-money for our ratepayers,’’ he said.

“I will continue to lobby for a seat on the SEQ Olympic board. It simply defies logic that our city, with its Commonwealth Games history and experience, would not have a seat.

“When our city is compared with Brisbane, we are actually contributing more council-owned and run venues for 2032 than Brisbane. The Brisbane facilities are largely State-owned so we have more skin in the game than Brisbane.’’

The make up and leadership of the organisation that will deliver the 2032 Olympics has caused frenzied speculation throughout Queensland.

Legislation to form the body and establish its functions and powers is before parliament.

The prized gigs will be announced before Christmas as the organising committee needs to be stood up within five months of Brisbane being awarded the Games.

The announcement of the winning bid was made on July 21 in Tokyo.

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