28 March 2024

Letter from the Editor: Matilda may be Myall option as Games takes mark to dry up remote infrastructure spend

| Lyndon Keane
Join the conversation

If the State Government is willing to dust off Matilda for a repeat of her 1982 Commonwealth Games performance in 2032, can exasperated Cape York residents borrow her as a remote infrastructure solution after the athletes and dignitaries head home? Photo: Brisbane City Council.

I’m going to say it loudly for those of you in the back: regional and remote Queensland can put a dirty red line through vital infrastructure projects if Brisbane ends up hosting the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

They say you can’t put a price on happiness, but you can certainly whack a price sticker on the cost of backslapping and self-adulation for some of our state’s elected leaders. For those playing along at home, that price tag reads $7.1 billion, a figure that’s an almost certainty to blow out over the next eight years.

That’s the eye-watering sum the State Government is willing to commit taxpayers to for Brisbane to host the quadrennial gathering of athletic greatness, most of which will be eaten up by upgrades to venues like the Gabba, Suncorp Stadium and the seen-better-days mess that is the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC), located about as far from public transport as one could imagine. There are actually numerous track events in which athletes will cover less ground than patrons attempting to get to the venue from the current bus and train network.

READ ALSO Games cannot be at expense of ‘generational infrastructure’ for FNQ: Crisafulli

It’s fitting the QSAC, constructed in 1975 and the venue for the 1982 Commonwealth Games, features in the 2032 equation, because I’m going to offer a cost-saving solution involving one of the stars from 42 years ago. If implemented, this plan will allow the government to perhaps throw a few infrastructure bucks at Cape York assets in desperate need of the levels of affection Premier Steven Miles is giving to Games-themed projects in his backyard.

Remember Matilda, the 13-metre winking fibreglass kangaroo that wowed the crowd as she made her way around the QSAC back in September 1982? For those of you not of that vintage, she was the benchmark of sporting mascots for decades to come, especially after 20 kids (unsurprisingly dressed like joeys) bounced out of her gargantuan pouch to perform a trampoline routine. Hey, it clearly took less to captivate a global audience back then.

Matilda’s now enjoying retirement standing guard outside a service station on the Bruce Highway, not far from Gympie, meaning she’s the ideal candidate to show Brisbane to the world in 2032. There’s no need to thank me, Mr Premier, we’ll just take any money allocated for mascot design and divert it to continuing the seal of the Peninsula Development Road. Or building a more suitable bridge over Myall Creek. Or the McLeod River. Or Shelley’s Crossing at Laura. For that matter, the Little Annan River crossing could probably do with being a few feet higher, too.

To get some idea just how disconnected from reality our State Government is, you only need to flick through the pages of the recently-released Sport Venue Review, an allegedly independent look at venue infrastructure for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I say allegedly because the review was led by former Brisbane lord mayor and self-confessed Games aficionado Graham Quirk.

READ ALSO Olympics needs a legacy outside of south-east Queensland

One of the 30 recommendations Mr Quirk and his team made was to scrap plans to rebuild the Gabba – at a likely cost of $3b – in favour of a new stadium at Victoria Park with a “marginally more expensive” price tag of up to $3.4b. Yes, you read that right. According to those in power, $400 million is now considered only a minor price difference. And you wonder how multi-billion-dollar cost blowouts occur when you leave politicians alone with the cheque book and the Kool-Aid.

What will those who call Cape York and the Torres Strait get for the $7.1b spend? Realistically, absolutely nothing. Any significant commitments to much-needed projects like the final stages of the Cape York Regional Package will be benched for south-east Queensland infrastructure to allow egotistical politicians to pose for selfies with the world’s best athletes, have their moment in the sun at official functions, and create social media content that will make everyone but them and their party sycophants cringe. Anyone who genuinely believes the spin that the events will create a tourism flow-on for this part of the world need to seek urgent medical advice.

I implore Premier Miles to consider my plan to give Matilda an opportunity to be at the centre of the sporting universe once again. Not only will it save spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to design a mascot for 2032, those of us on Cape York will be able to borrow her as a quasi infrastructure solution once the athletes and dignitaries have gone home. With a bit of luck, she’s just tall enough to tip over, position on top of the existing Myall Creek bridge and drive over. It’s far from a perfect plan, but I suspect it’s one of the few wins remote infrastructure up this way will have between now and the opening ceremony.

Rather than spend a forecast $7.1 billion on venues for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, perhaps our elected leaders could divert the money to infrastructure projects of more vital need, like finally sealing the PDR. Photo: Cape York Weekly.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.