The region’s government and business leaders explored how the Sunshine Coast can play to its strengths when the 2032 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games come to town, at the sixth annual Combined Government & Business Forum hosted by the Sunshine Coast Business Council this week.
A strong theme at the event — held at USC’s Innovation Centre — was the need for the Sunshine Coast to attract funding and investment to guarantee significant improvement to the road, rail and air transport systems and sporting facilities ensuring the Games experience for tourists, athletes, and residents is exceptional.
Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said while there was not absolute agreement yet on the transport approach, there was a lot of common ground and an understanding that the Coast needs to be on the front foot and proactive in working with State and Federal government to communicate the region’s transport and other priorities.
“With 70 of the region’s leaders in the room across all levels of government and the business community, this forum provided an opportunity for positive debate to informed conversation on how to prepare and work collaboratively towards 2032,” Mrs Zubrinich said.
“While 11 years may sound like a long time, it really isn’t when it comes to planning for and building the major infrastructure it will take to both deliver events and efficiently get people into the region and moving easily within the region once the Games commence.
“Another topic high on the agenda was accommodation requirements for workers in the lead up to games as well as all levels of resort accommodation to welcome athletes, their families and visitors to the region and housing supply in general. This is an ongoing concern for our region and while the Olympics is not a solution, it does provide a catalyst for us to attract additional funding and investment in the years ahead.”
Those presenting at the invitation-only event — which is hosted annually by the Sunshine Coast Business Council — included federal and state members, regional councillors and representatives from some of the most influential businesses and largest employers in the region.
“The political leaders provided an expansive view of the benefits the Games will bring to Australia, Queensland and the Sunshine Coast region and the importance of collaboration between all three tiers of government in the lead up to the Games,” Ms Zubrinich said.
“Unity, community involvement and making sure all sections of the community have a great Games experience were sentiments that were present throughout the discussions.
“Our business spokespeople included the Andrew Brodie from the Sunshine Coast Airport and Murray McCarthy from Walker Corporation who will be responsible for bringing the Maroochydore CBD to life in the lead up to the 2032 Games.
Chair of the Sunshine Coast Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN) Jacqui Price said it was invaluable to hear from all levels of government and key businesses about their vision for the next decade and how the region can leverage this opportunity to gain economic, political and social benefits.
“The discussion around the proposed transformative projects that will leave a lasting legacy for our community was insightful and inspiring,” Ms Price said.
“The energy in the room gave me every confidence that this was the start of a collaborative approach for the betterment of our region, not only in the lead up to the Games but well into the future. It was evident the benefits of securing the Games was not just about sporting facilities and transport infrastructure, there are far-reaching opportunities for our community when business and government can be creative, collaborative and unified.”
Ms Zubrinich agreed that the region was very well positioned to use this milestone as an opportunity to create legacy infrastructure that helps us reach our vision for the region for many decades to come.
“I’d like to thank all those who attended the forum for their contribution and appreciate the Queensland Minister for Tourism, Innovation and Sport Stirling Hinchliffe MP for participating and reinforcing the benefits of this event for the state,” Ms Zubrinich said.
“Our annual Combined Government & Business Forum is always very well attended with robust discussion undertaken in the spirit intended — energetic, challenged and debated.”
The forum included presentations by Ted O’Brien MP, Andrew Wallace MP, Mayors Mark Jamieson and Clare Stewart, as well as Cr Rick Baberowski, Murray McCarthy from Walker Corporation, Andrew Brodie from Sunshine Coast Airport and James Ruprai from Sunshine Coast Council. There were also two Q&A sessions as part of the agenda.
For more information, please visit www.scbusinesscouncil.com.au.