The Queensland Olympics bid success has sparked mixed reactions from the state’s regions, with some seeking involvement and others strongly opposed to the financial costs.
Leader of the Katter Australia Party Robbie Katter went as far as to say that the news was devastating to regional and remote Queenslanders.
“I’m pretty angry every time I hear about the Olympics bid because I know there’s an insatiable appetite by modern governments of any persuasion to distract the public with large social infrastructure,” he said.
“The problem with it 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.
“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 they’re committing money to large social infrastructure projects, well that makes me pretty cranky.”
Mr Katter said the bid would lead to fewer resources in regional and remote regions.
“You might see a slight increase in outback tourism, but that is just nonsense to think the benefit outside south-east Queensland would be commensurate with the imposition it will put on us in the future,” he said.
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President and IOC Vice-President John Coates said Queensland would need financial assistance from the federal government.
“South East Queensland needs this money to manage growth in the region, Mr Coates said.
“I’m sure this will accelerate that.”
Toowoomba resident Melinda Browne said she would attend the Games and it was something positive to look forward to after a difficult period during the pandemic.
Donna Marshall said it was a lot of money to spend and would prefer some simpler infrastructure upgrades.
“I just wish they’d fix the buses up,” said the Toowoomba resident.
“But if we could have some of the events up here that would be good.”
And pensioner Henry Hefner, also from Toowoomba, was apathetic and said the announcement didn’t excite him at all.
“I won’t be going, that’s one thing,” he said.
Geoff Reid said it was “pretty exciting” but said he had other concerns on his mind at the moment including COVID-19 and the end of JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments.
“But who knows what 2032 is going to be like, so it could be a master stroke,” he said.
Richmond Shire Mayor John Wharton said he thought Mr Katter was “playing a bit of politics” and that the successful bid would be good for Queensland.
“Australia’s sitting at the bottom of the world and we have a great country and we need to put it out there,” Cr Wharton said.
“There’s a big focus on the south-east, but you know when you live in the north-west there’s a big focus on the south-east every day.
Clarke McKay is the President of Rockhampton Hockey Association, and said all the focus should not be on the south-east region’s infrastructure.
In 2018, Rockhampton hosted the Oceania Cup, an Olympic qualifier event, with hockey teams from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific nations.
“We have a world-class facility here, and I think we could kick some goals if we were given the opportunity,” Mr McKay said.
“We’ve spent five million dollars over the past 10 years putting in the facility — it’s got world-class lighting and surfaces.”
Rockhampton Mayor Tony Williams said the city could be considered as a training venue for international athletes and agreed with Mr McKay’s view about hockey opportunities.
The Fitzroy River has previously hosted national rowing teams preparing for world titles.
“Rowing is one that has been mentioned previously with the Fitzroy River and the opportunity to host rowing,” Cr Williams said.
“The other one would be hockey, the hockey complex that we have now — the velodrome — I am sure there are many other opportunities there.”
Less than two hours west of Brisbane, Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said the announcement was the greatest boost the area had seen in a long time.
He said he would push hard for fast rail to the region as well as upgrading of venues.
“We’ve got to fight hard for the necessary infrastructure that will include Toowoomba in the events for the Olympic Games,” Cr Antonio said.
Ex-Olympic swimming medallist and chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games organising committee Mark Stockwell said the Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games set a precedent for the 2032 bid.
“It goes back to our success at the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast and how we staged that,” he said.
Mr Stockwell said Gold Coast City Council Mayor Tom Tate should “get behind” the Games.
“Tom was great during the Commonwealth Games and we need successive leadership over the next decade to really get the best value out of it,” he said.
The Gold Coast’s established hotel and accommodation inventory is expected to be an asset for the city’s inclusion in the Games.
Event chairman at the Whitsunday Sailing and Airlie Beach race week principal race officer Ross Chisholm said the Australian Olympic Committee had reached out about the possibility of hosting sailing events in the region.
“Mid last year we were approached by the AOC to investigate whether we could if we could run some sailing events and what sort of areas could we use,” Mr Chisholm said.
“We put together a couple of options for the AOC.”
Mr. Chisholm said although there would be fierce competition to host sailing events, the Whitsundays had several distinct advantages.
“Pioneer Bay is large enough to conduct several course areas all at the same time in traditionally very ideal sailing conditions — flat water, strong breezes, everything that yachties (sailors) like to see,” he said.
Federal MP Ted O’Brien, who has been spearheading the federal government’s involvement in the bid, said the announcement was exciting but there was a lot more work to do.
“We’re not there yet and we’ve got to make sure we temper our celebration,” Mr O’Brien said.
“But this puts us in the box seat to be hosting the 2032 Olympic Games.”
The Member for Fairfax said the south-east had “demonstrable expertise” when it comes to hosting sporting events.
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