Show holiday in danger
Groups join forces to tell pollies: help us or lose us
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.