By Aaron Goodwin
It’s estimated that hosting the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane will bring around $8.1 billion of economic and social benefits to Queensland, including the creation of around 90,000 jobs.
But the point that’s been raised throughout the campaign is whether regional centres like Bundaberg will actually experience these benefits.
Olympic and Paralympic events will be held primarily in Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast locations.
Some larger regional centres – including Cairns, Toowoomba and Townsville – will host football preliminary rounds.
Eighty-four per cent of proposed Games venues are existing or temporary, with the proposed new venues to be developed in line with existing long term infrastructure planning requirements and to deliver legacy outcomes for the community and the economy.
CQUniversity economist Professor John Rolfe says regional Queensland has 11 years to prepare for the flow-on effects of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games and should start planning now.
He said there was some potential for regional Queensland to host some Olympic events and athletes if they had suitable facilities and infrastructure.
“While the direct benefits for the regions will probably be limited, depending on the number of training events held in the regions, the larger benefits to the regions will come from the indirect effects of increased inbound tourism to the state,” Prof Rolfe said.
“It is very likely that large numbers of overseas visitors will come to the event and then stay on as tourists, and those effects will be more widely spread across the regions.”
“Essentially the regions have been given an eleven-year planning window to identify opportunities for training events and tourism activities, and to mount a case where additional investment is needed.
“I think there are some good intentions to host training activities in the regions, but the quality of facilities is likely to be a key factor in capitalising on these opportunities.”
He said the logistics of hosting Olympic events in the regions were “tricky”.
“The best opportunities will be where a regional area already has superior facilities and staging an event there will save infrastructure costs in South-East Queensland,” Prof Rolfe said.
“The next best possibility is where a region can argue that it makes better sense to build new facilities and host an event in their region rather than commit more investment in south-east Queensland.”
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett plans on ramping up the bid for Elliott Heads to host kitesurfing at the 2032 Olympic Games.
“Sadly the response from the Premier has been lacking so far, with the Palaszczuk Government already having a tunnel-vision focus on the South East corner,” Mr Bennett said.
“The Premier has stated that they have already nominated Alexandra Headland in the Sunshine Coast for the sport.
“But we are not taking no for an answer.
“I have written to the executive director of the 2032 Taskforce, requesting they also nominate Elliott Heads.
“Elliott Heads remains the best location for the sport and to rule it out from the beginning would be a detrimental move.
“I’m calling on the Premier to play fair and nominate Elliott Heads as well.”
Bundaberg MP Tom Smith is excited about the possibility of hosting Olympic teams in preparation for the games, but said the real benefit will be bringing tourism.
“We know that through the investment of infrastructure required to host the games we will see a supply chain of job creation and development right throughout the regions,” Mr Smith said.
“Being the number one tourism destination within the Brisbane drive market, we are going to see both domestic and international visitors flocking to what we know is the best part of Queensland.
“Our local investment into sporting and social infrastructure gives us every chance of attracting visiting international teams as they ready themselves to capture their Olympic dreams.”
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the Games will mean a massive infrastructure investment in the South East Corner but this must not come at the expense of regional Queensland.
“Regional Queensland has existing infrastructure upgrades which need a commitment from the Queensland State Labor Government and they need to happen regardless of the successful Olympic Games bid,” Mr Pitt said.
“I hope our region will benefit from the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, whether it’s hosting visiting athletes as they prepare for the competition or attracting tourists to stay a while longer after the closing ceremony.
”In my view, the first priority for the Premier for this region needs to be Paradise Dam, followed by a Level 5 Hospital in Bundaberg.
”The State Government can also start on the Hinkler Regional Deal projects right now.”