Zero appetite for new 2032 Games stadium, inquiry told

The Queensland government indicated it wouldn't build a new 2032 Olympic stadium before an infrastructure review was completed, an inquiry has heard.

The Queensland government indicated it wouldn't build a new 2032 Olympic stadium before an infrastructure review was completed, an inquiry has heard. Photo: AAP

The man who led a 2032 Olympic infrastructure review says he was blindsided by the Queensland government’s controversial decision to ignore their key finding.

But Graham Quirk has told a Senate inquiry that he got a feeling the government had “zero appetite” for building a new Brisbane Games stadium before handing down their report.

The former Brisbane lord mayor led the 60-day venue probe earlier this year, recommending a new $3.4 billion stadium be built at Victoria Park in inner Brisbane as the 2032 centrepiece.

Premier Steven Miles copped widespread criticism for disregarding it, instead opting for the Gabba, Suncorp Stadium and the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre to be upgraded.

“The (review) panel did not know that at all, it was a complete blindside for us,”  Quirk told the inquiry into Australia’s Olympic preparedness.

But Quirk said he got an inkling that the government was not keen on a new stadium before the review was completed.

“About a week or so out…the panel were advised that the government probably didn’t have a very strong appetite for a stadium,” he said.

The review also recommended that QSAC not be used for 2032 track and field events due to accessibility and transport issues.

Miles also ignored that call, saying he had opted for a QSAC upgrade after advice from International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates.

Coates on Wednesday reiterated to the inquiry that QSAC was his preferred Brisbane Games athletics venue.

Coates also confirmed he became aware of the government’s QSAC position days before the review was handed down.

He said inquiries were being made outside of the review by the state infrastructure department after being probed by inquiry chair Matt Canavan.

Miles had ruled out spending billions on a new stadium due to the current cost of living crisis with the October state election looming.

But Quirk said that should not be a consideration.”Even during the Great Depression, people were looking for hope … people need to know that there is something coming in the city to be proud of,” he said.

The state government introduced laws to establish an independent Games delivery authority on Wednesday.

It will deliver new, upgraded Games infrastructure and community legacy benefits, following a similar model to Sydney 2000 and London 2012.

“It’s expected that the authority will be established by mid-year and will feature a board of up to seven members recommended by Games delivery partners,” Miles told parliament.

“We will ensure it delivers results quickly with the legislation requiring the authority to develop a transport and mobility strategy within its first 18 months.”

Quirk believes the independent authority needs to get to work, saying “time is ticking” to deliver the 2032 Games.

“I did say every day during this review to any public servant that will listen to me, is you cannot do business as usual for these Games – you will not make it in time,” he said.


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