Design & Development

Brisbane Mayor resigns from Olympic Forum over Gabba plan

Featured image credit: The Gabba

Featured image credit: The Gabba

Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner has resigned from the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Intergovernmental Leaders’ Forum and criticised the Queensland Government’s plans to redevelop The Gabba ahead of the Games.

In a statement published over the weekend, Schrinner said he would be resigning from the forum with immediate effect, adding that he will no longer “fall in line” and support the Government’s current plans for The Gabba.

Last month, plans for a complete redevelopment of The Gabba ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Games were approved, with the Queensland Government now seeking out design and construction partners. The project is expected to cost A$2.7bn (£1.4bn/€1.7bn/$1.8bn), with construction work set to take place between 2025 and 2030.

Last week, the Queensland Government announced a A$137m redevelopment of the RNA Showgrounds’ Main Arena, with a view to it becoming the temporary home of the AFL’s Brisbane Lions and Queensland Cricket while The Gabba is redeveloped.

Queensland Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe thanked Schrinner for his backing of the RNA Showgrounds plans, but the Mayor said that he was “taken by surprise” by the announcement, adding that it was the state’s responsibility to find a new home for the Lions and Queensland Cricket.

Schrinner has now made his feelings clear on the Queensland Government’s venue plans and asserted that there “must be better options” than demolishing and rebuilding The Gabba.

Schrinner also described the Intergovernmental Leaders’ Forum as a “dysfunctional farce” and a “pointless talkfest” that has been established to placate key stakeholders while the State Government makes all the “real decisions” behind closed doors. The forum includes representatives from all levels of government and partners of the Games.

In a statement, Schrinner said: “The Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Brisbane and Queensland. But unless the State Government’s approach changes, this opportunity will be squandered through mismanagement. I believe that the Government has completely lost its way on the road to the Games.

“This has put the promised legacy for our city, our region and our state in serious jeopardy. Ever since the Premier and I travelled to Tokyo together to secure the 2032 Games, I have been a committed team player, despite numerous setbacks and political differences.

“I have done this because I strongly believed that only by working together can we stage the best-ever Games and deliver a legacy that benefits all residents. However, it’s clear that the Games have become more about over-priced stadiums rather than the promise of vital transport solutions.

“The State Government’s ham-fisted and foolish attempt to extort Brisbane ratepayers for tens of millions of dollars for a new RNA stadium was the final straw. This truly bizarre approach was undertaken because I had the temerity to back local fans and say Brisbane teams should play in Brisbane while The Gabba is torn down and rebuilt. How utterly absurd. I will never be bullied out of fighting for Brisbane residents.”

Hinchliffe has described Schrinner’s resignation as “a bit bewildering”, adding that the Mayor has previously supported the redevelopment of The Gabba.

Schrinner added: “Minister Stirling Hinchliffe’s blatant attempt to shake-down our Council with ridiculous demands for a sports stadium certainly won’t stop me.

“Hosting the Games is a privilege, but this sad episode is just the latest example of the State’s determination to use the event as their own personal political plaything. First was the State’s last-minute decision, without consultation, to redevelop The Gabba for supposedly A$1bn and then every decision that has happened with The Gabba since.

“Then came the State’s decision to junk the promised independent coordination authority that was supposed to oversee Games infrastructure planning and delivery. Friday’s farcical demands over the RNA stadium aptly demonstrated that the State is not interested in team work and that the Gabba rebuild should be independently re-evaluated.”

In other news, the 2026 Commonwealth Games are unlikely to be held in Australia after the Mayor of Gold Coast Tom Tate said that a co-hosting model between his city and Perth in Western Australia would not be backed by the government at state and federal level.

The Games had initially been due to take place in Victoria but the state withdrew from hosting back in July, citing the rising costs involved. The state later agreed a compensation deal worth A$380m with the Commonwealth Games Federation, Commonwealth Games Federation Partnerships (CGFP) and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA).

Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Games, had been put forward as a potential destination for a “streamlined” version of the event in 2026, but Tate has said that his city’s vision does not align with that of the state or federal governments.

CGA chief executive Craig Phillips has now said that the CGF should “seriously consider” staging the event outside of Australia.