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Let the Games begin in Southeast Queensland

Comment by Ipswich City Council interim administrator Greg Chemello

The Council of Mayors has made a landmark announcement that Southeast Queensland should push on with determining whether a 2032 Olympic bid is feasible.

This is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the region. But it cannot be underestimated just how significant this could be for Ipswich.

There are many real transport benefits, economic benefits, legacy benefits, tourism benefits. The list goes on.

Between now and whenever it’s decided whether to formally lodge a bid for the Olympics, there will be plenty of debate and negotiations I’m sure.

Importantly though, it means we’re having the right discussions – right now. And if an Olympic bid helps put hard deadlines on key infrastructure the Ipswich community needs such as a Norman St Bridge, a rail line from Springfield to Ripley to Ipswich Central, and fast rail which connects residents of Ipswich to Brisbane City within 20 minutes, then that’s a great outcome.

The Council of Mayors, of which I’m a member, is stressing a couple of really important points.

One point is that the transport plan for Southeast Queensland is not reliant on an Olympic bid. Regardless of whether the world’s sporting talent converges on our region in 13 years’ time or not, the infrastructure laid out in the transport plan should already have been built – because it is needed by this community and it makes sense to build it.

It makes sense to build fast rail. It makes sense to create connectivity to Ipswich Central. It makes sense to improve public transport. And it is common sense to improve our road and cycle networks.

Another point which arose from the feasibility study is that quality sporting facilities will also not be reliant on an Olympic bid – because again these are needed by this community and it makes sense for us to push the case for quality facilities, stadiums and infrastructure in one of Australia’s fastest growing cities.

By the time 2032 comes around, Ipswich will have grown exponentially. We’ll have more than 450,000 people. We’ll be a place even more people want to visit. We’ll be a hub for innovation, health, logistics and defence. And Ipswich Central will have been a thriving business, health, retail and community hub for well over a decade.

An Olympics, if it happens, amplifies these factors to the world.

It shows why people are discovering our national parks and trails. It shares all the things we already know are great about our city.

And it creates legacy. It potentially does for the region what Expo 88 did for Brisbane.

That we could well be granted an opportunity to witness the world’s best athletes over the best part of a month is, in my view, secondary to the tangible and lasting economic benefits which will make Ipswich an even greater place to live and grow.

There is much work to be done before the state and local leaders decide to lodge a bid. But if the feasibility case stacks up – as early figures indicate it will – then I do believe that all Ipswich residents will be winners.

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