The Gold Coast is gearing up for its biggest ever event. The Commonwealth Games will be staged in the sunny city for on 4-15 April 2018.
It will be the fifth time the event has been held in Australia, but only the first time it will be staged outside of a capital city.
Both the Gold Coast City Council and the Queensland State Government are playing the event for all it is worth. Controversial pro-development mayor Tom Tate is using the Games as a tool to beat up the Labor State Government.
In June he criticised Games Chairman, former Labor Premier Peter Beattie, telling him to “control his mouth” after Beattie made comments about Council CEO Dale Dickson buying tickets for council staff before they are available to the general public. There has since been very public bickering over the issue.
In a statement marking the six month countdown, Queensland Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones said the Games will achieve “a lasting and positive legacy for Queensland well beyond the 11 days of sporting competition.”
But she could not help reminding people that “it was a Labor Government that bid for the Games because we knew it would grow jobs, infrastructure and tourism.”
The Games were awarded to the Gold Coast back in November 2011, with the Gold Coast beating a rival bid from the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota. It was very much a joint effort by then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Gold Coast Mayor, former Olympian and world record holding runner Ron Clarke. Clarke was mayor from 2004 to 2012, and died in 2015.
Jones said the Games will inject more than $4 billion into Queensland’s economy, “supporting thousands of jobs and delivering world-class sporting facilities that will benefit Queenslanders for years to come.
“More than 15,000 workers have been engaged in the construction of venues and the Games village alone, with almost 90 percent of construction contracts awarded to Queensland companies.”
She said one of the major legacies will be the new Gold Coast Health and Knowledge precinct, a 200 hectare site which is home to the Gold Coast University Hospital, a private hospital, Griffith University and the Games Village. The Games have driven substantial other infrastructure investment, including a substantial light rail system.
“It will become a thriving hub for world-class biomedical and health technology, and cutting-edge research, and is expected to inject more than $1 billion into the local economy and create up to 26,000 jobs at its peak,” she said.
Jones pointedly did not refer to the Gold Coast City Council in her statement.
The Council did not choose to mark the six months-to-go timeframe, but has consistently used the Games to highlight the city’s increasing maturity and importance. With a population of 640,000 people, it is easily the largest city in Australia outside of the Big Five mainland state capitals.
“Post Games will be challenging but we have a plan to launch the biggest jobs-generating program from this council in decades, said Mayor Tate. “We will look at what civic infrastructure is needed and get it built and this will keep our Coast tradies busy.”
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