Show hol­i­day in dan­ger

Groups join forces to tell pol­lies: help us or lose us

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - PAUL WESTON

RES­I­DENTS could lose their show hol­i­day next year un­less the major po­lit­i­cal par­ties step up and help find a new home for the Gold Coast Show and har­ness rac­ing.

La­bor and the LNP will be put on no­tice by sport­ing and com­mu­nity groups as a cam­paign is ramped up in the leadup to the Novem­ber 25 state poll to find a new venue.

The Bul­letin has learned both the Gold Coast Show So­ci­ety and Gold Coast Har­ness Rac­ing have joined forces and plan to lodge a com­plaint with the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion high­light­ing lack of gov­ern­ment sup­port.

Both or­gan­i­sa­tions were made home­less when the Gov­ern­ment closed Park­lands in 2013 to build the Games ath­letes vil­lage, lead­ing to the show so­ci­ety mov­ing to a smaller venue at the Gold Coast Turf Club, and to the har­ness rac­ing body seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion.

Gold Coast Har­ness Rac­ing pres­i­dent Barry Grim­sey told the Bul­letin: “It’s past time for gov­ern­ment to find an ap­pro­pri­ate site in the heart of the Gold Coast where we can reestab­lish rac­ing fa­cil­i­ties, a ded­i­cated show­ground and a com­mu­nity events hub.

“Har­ness and grey­hounds are owed promised state com­pen­sa­tion of $10 mil­lion each and have been work­ing with the coun­cil and Rac­ing Queens­land on a so­lu­tion.

“We’ve joined with the other dis­en­fran­chised groups such as the show to also seek over­ar­ch­ing state fund­ing for a new Park­lands for all.

“But it seems eas­ier to find $17 mil­lion for coun­try race clubs – an an­nounce­ment was made this week – than pro­vide a new com­mu­nity hub for Aus­tralia’s sixth largest city.”

Af­ter the forced clo­sure of the Coast show­grounds for the ath­letes’ vil­lage, the Gov­ern­ment failed to de­liver on a prom­ise of a new home, forc­ing har­ness rac­ing of­fi­cials to take Supreme Court ac­tion.

Gold Coast Show So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Syd­ney Boese con­firmed the show could not con­tinue at Bun­dall, which placed doubt over whether all res­i­dents will be granted an an­nual one-day pub­lic hol­i­day.

“If the show does not re­ceive ur­gent as­sis­tance there will not be a 2018 show. As a re­sult, the Gold Coast might lose its show hol­i­day,” he said.

“Since the show’s re­lo­ca­tion from Park­lands to the Gold Coast Turf Club, oper­a­tional costs are up nearly 50 per cent and rev­enue down al­most 30 per cent. It sim­ply hasn’t worked and we can­not stay.

“There are also many other com­mu­nity groups that used Park­lands for an­nual cel­e­bra­tions, as it had pretty well ev­ery­thing they needed from car park­ing to util­i­ties, build­ings and all-weather fa­cil­i­ties.”

Mr Boese sus­pected other users would have been con­fronted with the same blowout in oper­a­tional costs at other lo­ca­tions.

“We need a new Gold Coast City Show­ground that can house all of us and we need it now,” he said.

Mr Boese said major po­lit­i­cal par­ties had to un­der­stand show pa­trons had not em­braced the turf club as a venue.

“They keep telling us they don’t want to come here. Add to that we have tried dif­fer­ent lay­outs for the last four shows but we just can’t make it work on this site. Traf­fic man­age­ment, tem­po­rary in­fra­struc­ture and lack of space are all killing us,” he said.

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