Qld cross bench unites in call to cap Olympics spending

Fraser Barton |

Amy MacMahon says the crossbenchers believe Queenslanders should be put first in Games spending.
Amy MacMahon says the crossbenchers believe Queenslanders should be put first in Games spending.

Queensland’s crossbenchers have united in a rare move, calling on the state government to cap its budget for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics amid soaring housing costs and infrastructure spending.

Greens MP Amy MacMahon, members from Katter’s Australia Party, One Nation’s Stephen Andrew and independent Sandy Bolton signed a statement calling for a raft of commitments from the government over the event.

Ms MacMahon has underlying concerns over the future of East Brisbane State School in her electorate, with development of the Gabba stadium set to move the historic school elsewhere.

The state government will spend $3.7 billion over the next decade with the federal government adding $3.4b. 

The crossbenchers don’t want spending to go beyond that figure.

“Despite our differences on the cross bench we all agree that Queenslanders should be put first, not the two-week Olympic Games,” she told reporters at parliament on Tuesday.

“In my community we’re also set to lose an active state primary school and an inner city park for a two-week event that the majority of people in our electorates won’t be able to afford to go.

“This joint statement today calls on the government to put a hard cap on the budget for the Olympic Games, to have a comprehensive plan to deal with increased house prices that come from the Olympic Games and to scrap the $2.7b Gabba rebuild to protect the school.”

Signatories are seeking equivalent spending in regions that will not receive any Olympic infrastructure and for any purpose-built athlete accommodation to be transferred to public or community housing after the Games.

They are also want the Olympic and Paralympic Games moved to a more appropriate location, such as Carrara on the Gold Coast. 

“That $7b could be going to things Queenslander’s really need – housing, health care, education,” Ms MacMahon said.

Robbie Katter labelled the $7b funding a “vortex” that would suck available resources, labour and infrastructure exclusively to the state’s southeast.

“When we need to build that new bridge or road, there’s just no capacity to do it in the future,” he said.

“We’re a little bit sick of asking for renal units in our towns, CT scanners and being told there’s no money for it, when they can find money for brand new stadiums.”

The government said its investment in the Olympic and Paralympic Games paled in comparison to ongoing education, health, housing and infrastructure funding.

“Nothing is built solely for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is our golden opportunity to attract and deliver investment that sets the state up for decades to come,” a representative said in a statement. 

“More than half of the government’s $15.5b infrastructure spending is outside of Brisbane.

“Ninety five per cent of our $62b energy and jobs plan is spent in regional Queensland.”

AAP