BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has quit the inter-governmental committee charged with organizing the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, calling it a “pointless talkfest” and “dysfunctional farce.”
It's the first significant split for the organizers of the bid which was selected in 2021 by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2032 Games.
The so-called Leaders' Forum comprises representatives from all three levels of government and other agencies and is designed to deliver the Olympics and create a legacy for Queensland. Its brief is to work with the Queensland state government of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to “progress the significant venues, villages and transport infrastructure” for the Games.
But Schrinner said the group was only 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 said on Sunday.
He called for the establishment of an independent authority, similar to the one which oversaw preparations for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2012 London Olympics, to get planning “back on track.”
“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, set to be demolished and rebuilt, in inner-city Brisbane is intended to be the centerpiece of an Olympics that will have venues across southeast Queensland. But Schrinner called for other options to be considered.
He especially balked at the state government's plans for Brisbane City Council to help cover an estimated $91 million in costs to upgrade another local stadium, the RNA Showgrounds, to host cricket and Australian Rules football while the Gabba is re-developed.
Plans are for a 20,000 stadium to be incorporated in the showgrounds to accommodate the Brisbane Lions AFL teams and Brisbane Heat cricket franchise for five years. The state government's statement calling for the city's financial contribution for a temporary cricket and AFL venue triggered Schrinner's resignation.
“The state government’s game playing is jeopardizing the games and they are quickly losing the support of the people of Queensland,” Schrinner said. “It’s clear that the games have become more about overpriced stadiums rather than the promise of vital transport solutions."
Queensland Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he was bewildered by Schrinner’s decision to quit. A seat would be kept for him should he decide to rejoin.
Council elections are set to be held next March in Queensland state. 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, wouldn't support the demolition and rebuild of the Gabba. He described it as a “deplorable waste of money and a bad deal for our city.”
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The Associated Press