Prime Minister Julia Gillard formally announced today in Queensland that Brisbane had won the right to host the G20 summit in the year 2014. This was greeted with much appreciation and even gloating from Queensland politicians at different levels of government. Brisbane beat all other cities that put in a submission to be able to host this potentially very lucrative meeting of the world’s 19 biggest nations and the European Union. The event will have some definite positives for the Queensland economy when it is held in November 2014.
Brisbane won the event over the much bigger cities of Sydney and Melbourne, with politicians from both states and including Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle sticking the boot into the Gillard Government over the awarding to Brisbane of the summit.
Both states think that their cities have better facilities and they certainly do, with sizeable airports and convention centre facilities, not to mention terrific accommodation available.
That’s not to say that Brisbane doesn’t, it certainly does and the city has been working hard to develop world class facilities and attempting to grow a reputation worldwide as a true “world city”. The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre facilities are not to be sneezed at and are well and truly capable of hosting such a large and important meeting of world leaders.
Politicians from both NSW and Victoria and many in the media immediately upon hearing of Brisbane being made the host of the G20 immediately put the announcement down to politics. The ALP Government are finished in Queensland in particular and will be, on recent poll results, all but wiped out if an election were held in the near future.
So, of course it follows that speculation would immediately turn to the move by federal Labor being a so-called “vote-buying” initiative before the next federal election due to be held some time around mid-to late 2013.
But is it really reasonable to assume that Brisbane playing host to world leaders for the summit in 2014 would actually win votes? The answer is almost certainly not.
The event will likely have economic benefits for the economy of the city of Brisbane, bringing in what is estimated to be $50 million for the local economy over the course of the visit by international delegations. Though at the same time, much of the city would probably be in lockdown for such high-level visits so benefits, particularly to retail might not be so high.
On the other hand, hotels will be rubbing their collective hands together with glee at today’s announcement, particularly with tourism, a usually strong performer in the state of Queensland having been hit so bad because of the floods and the Global Financial Crisis
Brisbane having world leaders, including the US President visiting will also possibly have some impact on the broader tourism market, spurring confidence that things in Queensland have returned to a more stable position, but this is less certain and probably of much less benefit than many have been quick to assume today.
The potential too for world leaders discussing possible future business investment in and trade with the Queensland and Australian economy is a very important long-term prospect.
But all this will count for very little when it comes to the ballot box. International meetings of world leaders, though great in their own special way have never actually stayed with the thoughts of voters as potential election winners, or at the very least as the ALP was probably hoping against all hope, vote buyers of some face-saving repute.
There will never be a time when the exit polls say that a summit was any kind of factor in the electoral success of a political party.