Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has resigned from the Olympic and Paralympic Games Intergovernmental Leaders Forum describing it as a “dysfunctional farce”.
Schrinner said the State Government was “quickly losing the support of the people of Queensland” over its handling of the Gabba redevelopment.
“This week it became very apparent that the Intergovernmental Leaders’ Forum is a dysfunctional farce, a pointless talkfest established to placate key stakeholders while all the real decisions are made by the State Government behind closed doors,” he said in a statement.
“It has also become clear that there must be better options than demolishing and rebuilding the Gabba.
“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.”
Describing himself as “a committed team player”, the Mayor said the Government had “completely lost its way on the road to the Games”.
“It’s clear that the Games have become more about over-priced stadiums rather than the promise of vital transport solutions,” he said
“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.”
Schrinner called for an independent body to look at alternative plans for the stadium.
“I have no doubt there are good alternatives to the full demolition and rebuilding of the Gabba, but the State Government has never genuinely looked for them with an open mind,” he said.
“If they won’t do it, let’s appoint an independent body that will.”
The surprise announcement by Schrinner follows the government’s $46 million pledge to upgrade Brisbane’s showgrounds with a temporary 20,000-seat stadium to act as a temporary home for both AFL and cricket while the Gabba was rebuilt.
The deal was dependent on the remaining $91 million cost be shared by Brisbane city council, AFL and cricket authorities and the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.
Queensland’s Tourism and Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he was “bewildered” by Schrinner’s resignation.
“It is not very long ago he was … supporting the Gabba redevelopment, and the opportunity of the whole precinct redevelopment that that represents,” he said. “It’s a bit bewildering, but I’m starting to expect backflips from the lord mayor.”