Govt’s 2032 venue decision swayed by IOC submission

Savannah Meacham, Keira Jenkins and Laine Clark |

The Queensland government has ditched a controversial Gabba rebuild.
The Queensland government has ditched a controversial Gabba rebuild.

An Olympic powerbroker has influenced the Queensland government’s decision to ignore a Brisbane 2032 infrastructure review’s key recommendations.

Premier Steven Miles on Tuesday said he opted for a $1.6 billion Games project which the review considered “very hard to justify” based on International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates’ advice.

The majority of the infrastructure review’s 30 recommendations were accepted by the government on Monday, ensuring a controversial Gabba rebuild was scrapped.

However the premier ruled out some major findings, shutting down a plan to build a $3.4 billion stadium in an inner Brisbane park as the 2032 Games centrepiece.

Instead the government will look at an upgraded Suncorp Stadium and Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC) to host drawcard events, despite the review’s warnings.

The premier said it was a “tough decision” to rule out the review’s call to build a new world-class stadium in inner-city Victoria Park.

But he backed a plan for Suncorp Stadium to host the opening and closing ceremonies and for track and field events to be held at the 49-year-old QSAC based on Mr Coates’ advice.

A file photo of John Coates'
The premier said his infrastructure decision was based on IOC vice-president John Coates’ advice. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Miles said the IOC vice-president had told the 60-day review that his preference was to upgrade existing facilities for the 2032 Games. 

“I will stand by and support the proposal … that was in the submission that John Coates made to the (review) inquiry,” Mr Miles told parliament on Tuesday.

“That’s because speaking as a representative of the IOC, he could be clear about what the requirements for an Olympic and Paralympic Games would be. 

“And he wanted to be clear that we did not need a new $3.4 billion stadium, that we could deliver the Games with our existing stadiums.”

The review, led by former lord mayor Graham Quirk, said QSAC – a 1982 Commonwealth Games venue – would require a $1.6 billion redevelopment but believed it would be “very hard to justify” and would not demonstrate value for money.

The Miles government said Olympic upgrades to Suncorp Stadium and the Gabba would overall cost about $1 billion.

Alan Graham, Steven Miles (centre) and Wally Lewis at Suncorp Stadium
Premier Steven Miles (C) said he couldn’t justify building a $3.4 billion stadium at Victoria Park. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“We will put every cent we can into delivering for (Queenslanders) rather than committing nearly a billion dollars more just to deliver a stadium that the IOC in their submission said we did not need,” Mr Miles said.

“Brisbane is going to put on the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games. Our legacy will be upgraded venues across the state.”

Brisbane Olympic organising committee president Andrew Liveris backed the decision to upgrade existing infrastructure but called for swift action.

“We acknowledge the Queensland government’s actions in accepting the majority of the panel’s recommendations and urge due diligence across venues and infrastructure to be completed quickly and in consultation with stakeholders,” he said in a statement.

“Time and cost estimates are of the essence and progress must move swiftly.”

An independent authority will be introduced mid-year to deliver the venues under their funding budget.