Transcript: Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News - 22 April 2024


INTERVIEW WITH Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

22 April 2024

Topics: Senate Inquiry into Olympics Games Preparedness, Brisbane 2032 infrastructure


Kieran Gilbert: The Shadow Sports Minister Anne Ruston joins me now. Thanks for your time. The Minister, Anika Wells, says that she takes her role as steward of the Olympic Games seriously. What's she doing wrong?

Anne Ruston: Well, she's actually doing nothing. That's the problem. So far, all we seem to have seen for the last couple of years is the Queensland Government just doing whatever it wants, and plainly they're not doing anything either. And I think that the Federal Government should step up, because this is our international legacy that's at stake here. I mean, we saw the Federal Government completely and utterly refuse to say anything when the Victorian Government blew up the Commonwealth Games and left us looking really stupid on an international sporting stage. So, we don't want to see that happen in Queensland because the Olympic Games are really, really important, not just for our international reputation, but the fantastic opportunity it delivers here in Australia for our athletes and for young aspiring athletes. So I'd say to the Minister, actually step up and make sure the Queensland Government is doing its job, because right now we have no infrastructure in place, we have no real plans, and last week we saw at the hearing that we're basically at the same place we were when we won the Olympic Games bid three years ago. Nothing's happened.

Gilbert: And just a reminder for our viewers as well, when we talk about the Federal Minister Anika Wells, it's important because it's a 50/50 split in terms of funding, isn't it?

Ruston: Absolutely. When we won the Games back in 2021 or when it was announced, part of the bid contingency was that the Federal Government would supply 50% of the infrastructure funding. We said, when we were in government at the time, that we wanted an independent oversight body so that we could make sure that the over $7 billion that's proposed to be spent on infrastructure had appropriate oversight. And so, making sure that we deliver on not only the legacy opportunities, but actually delivering on the efficient and effective spending of a lot of Australian taxpayers money is also something that I think the Federal Government should have oversight.

Gilbert: And well you're talking, as you rightly point out, this is not just - it's obviously a huge thing for Brisbane, a huge thing for Queensland - but as we saw from the Sydney Olympics, for those of us of an age that remember it vividly, it was a huge thing for our nation, as a country, Sydney Olympics 2000. So, when you say they're at risk of squandering it, how worried are you about the timeline we face ahead of 2032?

Ruston: Well, there's still plenty of time, if the Queensland Government and the Australian Government actually get off their collective tails and get on with the job. Because we were given an amazing opportunity with this particular Games, which is that we found out many, many years ahead of what we would normally find out that we actually had been successful with the bid. Normally, Olympic Games hosts only get, you know, six, seven, eight years of opportunity to be able to prepare for the Games. We got a massively big run up. We had 11 years. We've just squandered three years of it. But the really important thing is that we argued about the legacy opportunities of having that extra time, the opportunities for us to hold international events prior to the Games, the opportunity to be able to have infrastructure in place following the Games. I mean, so far, we've found out that Queensland intends to have a whole heap of temporary venues. What legacy is there in a temporary venue? I mean, a drop-in drop-out swimming pool? Seriously, no one can tell me there's any legacy in that. So, we need a united and comprehensive plan. Not just about the facilities, but all the transport and the other infrastructure that needs to be put in place to make a successful Games. And so far, we've seen the Queensland Government just continue to fight about this on a political basis. I mean, what Annastacia Palaszczuk wanted as her legacy seems to be a completely different thing that the now Premier Miles wants to have is his legacy. It's just a complete dog's breakfast and somebody has got to get it under control. And I'm saying to the Federal Government, maybe it's time for you to step up and make sure this Games is delivered for the benefit of all Australians.

Gilbert: Yeah, it's a point, I think, that would resonate with a lot of Australians. And you look at Queensland, such a sport loving state, many of our great swimmers - and you go across all the sports, it's a wonderful sport loving state. They would want these facilities on an ongoing basis for the juniors, for those coming through, as you mentioned the other day, the inspiration of say the Matildas. You've got so many young girls playing football now. How about having a legacy for that next generation as well?

Ruston: And I'd also take it one step further and argue that we need to make sure that all Australians are living active lifestyles, because if you are active, you're much more likely to be healthy. And right now, we're seeing so many challenges in our health system, not the least of which is, you know, we're seeing our hospital systems completely overrun. What we need to do is to use these opportunities to encourage people to be more active, because if they're more active, they're healthier, and they'll be less of a burden on our health system, as well as people are obviously happier when they're healthier. So, there is so much opportunity sitting here to inspire Australians, and yet what did they see last week on their TV news after the inquiry? The fact that we're just squandering that opportunity, having a fight about where some piece of infrastructure needs to be put. That should have been dealt with ages ago, and we should be getting on with delivery.

Gilbert: Well, let's hope that there is a bit more action than what we've seen thus far. We'll stay in touch on this one. Shadow Sports Minister Anne Ruston, appreciate it.


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