People at top seem intent on spoiling Games party,
The Gold Coast’s winning bid promised a fun-filled, laid-back event, but allowing PC police to run rampant has seen enthusiasm drain from locals
THE Gold Coast Bulletin editorial on Saturday January 27 ‘We need to put fun back into Games’ summed up the feelings of many Gold Coasters who are of the view the PC police are hijacking the Commonwealth Games and sanitising them to the extent that we locals cannot be ourselves.
The Gold Coast won the bid to host the Games amidst promises of a fun-filled, world class event boasting bright blue skies, golden beaches, sparkling waters and a bunch of welcoming, laid-back Aussies.
Excitement for the GC2018 Games should be gushing from the ground up, but the people at the top seem intent on spoiling the party. These are the ‘Friendly Games’ and I, like so many other Gold Coasters, want them to be magnificent, to be fun, to be memorable and our athletes to be hugely successful. And we want to be able to deliver our unique Gold Coast hospitality to all of our Games visitors.
Instead of laying down the law about how we should act during the Games, officials should be ramping up the local flavour and embracing us, not crushing our identity and enthusiasm bit by bit.
As the longest serving 2018 Commonwealth Games minister and having the once-in-a-lifetime honour of going to Glasgow and delivering a speech at the 2014 Games ceremonies, I am genuinely concerned that ‘our’ Games have been sabotaged, and that our gregarious, friendly nature is being stifled by this ever increasing scourge of political correctness. And it is dampening excitement and even turning our very own locals away.
Only a fool would underestimate the powerful effect volunteers and locals have in shaping visitors’ and competitors’ lasting memories of these Games. Apart from the thrill of seeing elite athletes compete, the welcoming nature of the Scots and English in Glasgow was all-embracing and etched in my mind forever.
Their ‘Scottishness’ and ‘Englishness’ were pivotal in promoting Games culture and festivities. They epitomised their Games slogan – People Make Glasgow. Their weather may be miserable and the landscape not as spectacular as ours but they made up for it with incredible friendliness and common local language.
Every volunteer we met was brimming with pride and couldn’t wait to tell us about their homeland, the Games, and how pleased they were to welcome us. As visitors we wanted to immerse ourselves in their culture, not some strained politically correct behaviours.
At the time of my trip to Glasgow ‘Famous for Fun’ was the marketing campaign on the Gold Coast. We decided to promote our famous surf and beaches culture by transforming a Glasgow restaurant into a Qld Surf Lifesaving Club. After all, this is who we are. Our SLSCs are iconic and we should have them front and centre stage during the Games. Even the Meter Maids made the trip to Glasgow in a cardboard cutout form and created quite a following. But here we are
less than two months from the Games and volunteers have been advised not to say ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, or mother and father; tradies were told to hop on their bicycles to get to work; Invasion Day BBQs were planned by GOLDOC staff; children are encouraged to design a republic; and some volunteers were told they have to work on Good Friday.
Contracts are going to interstate and overseas businesses – even the bus contract went to Wangaratta coach lines. Furniture for the Games Village went to a company based in Asia and our small businesses are not getting the information they need.
The Opening Ceremony contract went to an overseas company, sponsorships are not filled, and last week there were more than 185,000 tickets still to be sold.
Through all this the Premier and the minister have remained almost totally silent, absolving themselves of any responsibility, yet this is two billion dollars of taxpayers’ money being spent.
Peter Beattie’s response is to tell us all to just “suck it up.” Well I think it’s time they sucked it up and showed some leadership and some understanding. There’s less than 60 days to go.
We are Queenslanders! Please stop treating us with contempt, listen to us, trust us and let us show you just how amazing we are!