What price fun and games?
It’s a great place, the Gold Coast, and a key element of Queensland’s identity. But should it be treated as the jewel in our crown? Not so sure about that, especially since bikie gangs appear to have made an unchallenged take-over bid some time back.
What prompts this musing is the 2018 Commonwealth Games which the Gold Coast won in a competitive bid. Of course, they had a helping hand thanks to our dear departed former premier, Anna Bligh who, regrettably, had her other hand in our hip pockets to snitch the bucks necessary to make this event happen. And we’re not talking just a few smackers here: the estimated cost is $2 billion. And, as every long-suffering taxpayer can painfully acknowledge, the starting price of major infrastructure projects is NEVER anywhere near what they finally end up costing.
Such was Bligh’s determination to leave her stamp on the Coast that you have to wonder if she thought she’d still be Premier in 2018 when the festivities are due to get out of the starting blocks. Given how she seemed to think she was doing a great job of running Queensland, such delusion appears true to form. Maybe she thought we would just lump in this spare two thousand million dollars into her overall debt legacy of around $65 thousand million dollars? But, no, we’ve got a choice to make.
It’s a wonder new premier, Can Do Newman, has not feasted his hungry cost-cutting eyes on the Coast Games as he pursues his manic determination to rein-in Labor’s decade of unbridled spending. Of course, scrapping the Games entirely is not an option. Having told the world we would, we do have a moral obligation to proceed but what if we cut them back to a $1 billion black hole rather than one twice the size. Many Coasters might find this not to their liking but they should take a deep breath and consider a cold hard reality. The simple fact is that the difference between a Rolls-Royce games and a Toyota version represents a personal donation of around $300 for every single taxpayer in Queensland. And that is if they were delivered at anywhere near the mooted starting price which hasn’t happened since treasurers substituted billions instead of millions in their annual budgets.
Coasters might like to think they were going to get a lovely gift from everyone else in the Sunshine State to boost their regional economy but the fact is that we ALL pick up the tab. Do Coasters really want to lavish $663 million on first-class accommodation for a couple of weeks for a bunch of athletes, most of whom would never experience anything so good at home? And if you believe the hype that this accommodation will be sold off at a profit to you and me, the taxpayers, you’d be pulling out your own molars for the tooth fairy.
Even though Can Do’s new LNP colleagues ‘own’ every seat on the Gold Coast, it is hard to imagine he would not have already decided to sharply prune plans for the Games. He knows he owes a debt of gratitude – and obligation – to Queenslanders in every corner of this state and fixing Labor’s fiscal fiasco was top of his responsibility list. Don’t be surprised if the secateurs become a chainsaw.
Let us know what you think should be done about the Games and what we might do with the savings if we do the sensible thing and make them affordable.