Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Queensland state premier who headed Brisbane’s successful bid to host the 2032 Games, quit last weekend amid falling popularity and will be replaced by Steven Miles, who plans to establish an independent authority to review plans for the controversial Gabba stadium redevelopment that is one of the centerpieces of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
What was originally pitched as a refurbishment is now scheduled to be a costly demolition and rebuild of the Gabba, a legendary Australian cricket stadium. Miles last month as Queensland’s deputy premier announced the $1.8 billion redevelopment of the Gabba would go ahead after the government accepted a project validation report.
According to The Associated Press, critics have called for an overhaul of venue planning in the state capital after a blowout of projected costs. State Treasurer Cameron Dick said Olympic projects were on “pause” for two months.
Miles said he’d resumed consultations with Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and the Queensland government had flagged the review with the IOC and Brisbane 2032 organizers.
The news comes after last week’s announcement by Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner that he quit the inter-governmental committee charged with organizing the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, reportedly calling it a “pointless talkfest” and “dysfunctional farce.”
According to The Associated Press, Schrinner said the Leaders’ Forum, which has representatives from all three levels of government and is designed to deliver the Games, was being used to “placate key stakeholders while all the real decisions were made by the state government behind closed doors. … The reality is we always wanted to be team players. The state government wanted to play politics.”
Schrinner called for the establishment of an independent authority, similar to the one which oversaw preparations for the 2000 Games in Sydney and the 2012 Games in London. In February 2023, the Australian national and Queensland state governments have agreed to a funding split to build or remodel venues for the 2032 Games that were awarded to Brisbane in 2021.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese anounced the $4.8 billion agreement at the Queensland state capital Friday. The International Olympic Committee awarded the 2032 Games to Brisbane in July 2021 under a revamped procedure for choosing host cities in which a small group of IOC members identify and propose host cities to the board.
“We don’t need overpriced stadiums, we need better transport,” Schrinner said. “This week it became very apparent that the Intergovernmental Leaders’ Forum is a dysfunctional farce.”
A $2.7 billion redevelopment of the existing Gabba stadium in inner-city Brisbane is intended to be the centerpiece of an Olympics that will have venues across Queensland. Schrinner has called for other options to be considered.
Council elections are set to be held next March in Queensland. Schrinner’s conservative Liberal National Party coalition in city council and the opposition Australian Labor Party have previously supported the Gabba redevelopment. Jonathan Sriranganathan, the Greens candidate for mayor of Brisbane, has said his party, if elected, would not support the demolition and rebuild of the Gabba.
The news about Australia’s 2032 Games planning comes on the same weekend that the Gold Coast dropped its bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, citing a lack of government support.
Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips told The Associated Press on Monday while Australia has not given up on hosting, the Commonwealth Games Federation should “seriously consider” other offers.
The state of Victoria pulled out of hosting the 2026 event in July, citing cost increases. The Gold Coast had hosted the 2018 Games and was mooted as a potential replacement host in the wake of Victoria’s decision. Whether the 2026 Games goes on in yet another potential host region or is postponed has yet to be decided.
“It’s our preference to host here and we will keep going while we think we have got options to explore,” Phillips told the Australian Associated Press. “But if (the CFG) have a better option, then they should seriously consider it.”
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate announced Sunday the city will end to host the Games after failing to secure support from state or federal governments. Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and Perth had proposed a “streamlined” 2026 event, costing about $700 million.
“We did our best,” Tate said in a statement. “Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains. In simple terms, it seems our Games’ vision doesn’t align with the vision of the state or federal governments.”