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Brisbane 2032 - Olympic-sized white elephants

By Scott Prasser - posted Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Last week Prime Minister Albanese flew into Brisbane to announce the Commonwealth contribution of $3.5 billion towards the $7 billion cost of the infrastructure for 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games.

This is $2 billion more than the original estimate of $5 billion - a 40 per cent escalation.

It is just one of the many cost overruns already starting that plague most Olympic Games.


Expect many more.

The Brisbane Olympic Games will be our own very big white elephant project – you know those projects that cost so much and deliver so little and serve no real useful purpose – which we can all see as it grows and grows in front of our very eyes.

And remember, Brisbane only got the Games because we were the only mug left in the international competition to hold this expensive sporting extravaganza.

Of course, we already knew that the planned rebuild of the Gabba stadium has blown out in just two years from $1billion to $2.7 billion – a mere 170 per cent increase – almost treble original cost estimates.

All for an extra 8,000 seats we are told.

Lest we forget the Gabba was redeveloped in six stages which was completed in 2005 at a cost of $128 million, with an additional refurbishment at a cost of $35 million only completed in 2020. Chicken feed in comparison to what is now on the table.


So if you think these will be the final figures for this stadium and whatever other pieces of infrastructure that is going to be built for these Olympics you are kidding yourself.

Promises that Olympic Games are bonanzas for host cities and countries do not hold up in terms of economic or other touted benefits.

Independent researchers highlight cost overruns haunt all recent Olympic Games.

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Scott Prasser is co-editor with David Gration and Bruce Kingston of White Elephant Stampede: Case Studies in Policy and Management Failures (Connor Court 2022) and this article relies on one of its chapters. To purchase click here.

This article was first publshed on Policy Insights.



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About the Author

Dr Scott Prasser has worked on senior policy and research roles in federal and state governments. His recent publications include:Royal Commissions and Public Inquiries in Australia (2021); The Whitlam Era with David Clune (2022) and the edited New directions in royal commission and public inquiries: Do we need them?. His forthcoming publication is The Art of Opposition reviewing oppositions across Australia and internationally. .

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