Southeast Queensland’s tentative bid to host the 2028 Olympics should be a serious state election issue, according to Toowoomba’s mayor.
Paul Antonio, the acting chair for the SEQ council of mayors, has declared the proposed bid alive and well despite a lack of support from two of the area’s three biggest councils.
Both Gold Coast and Logan city councils have declined to foot their part of the bill for a $2.5 million feasibility study into the bid, which is due to be completed before a formal bid needs to be made in 2019.
But Mr Antonio on Tuesday denied the shortfall – believed to be around $600,000 – would be an issue, suggesting the private sector help make up the difference rather than the nine supporting SEQ councils.
Brisbane City Council has committed $870,000.
Mr Antonio said there was immense private interest while it was also critical to have the support of both the state and federal governments to ensure a world-class bid.
Queensland’s Labor government has failed to show its hand but has regularly stated its focus was on delivering the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said five months ago she did not think an SEQ Olympics bid was realistic “at this stage”.
Queenslanders are due to go to the polls by May 2018, but the state election is expected to be called this year.
Mr Antonio admitted there would be bigger issues for voters but the Olympics “deserved to be on the agenda” before a formal decision is required in early 2019.
“It’s the sort of thing that people dream about – you dream about going to the Olympics – and it links in with our infrastructure needs,” the Toowoomba mayor said.
“We need to spend more time working with the state government on the future of Toowoomba and every other area that is involved as well.
“This could be a major impetus to building some of the infrastructure that is so desperately needed.”
With the astronomical cost being the major obstacle to holding the Olympics, the SEQ council of mayors has been heartened by an American study backing Los Angeles’ 2024 Games bid.
The University of California study shows the 2024 Olympic Games could increase economic output by up to $11.2 billion in Los Angeles, creating more than 70,000 full-time jobs in the region, by maximising existing venues.
Mr Antonio said potential benefits were also achievable in SEQ due to the region’s ability to reuse existing venues, such as Suncorp Stadium, and facilities built for the Commonwealth Games.