The man who spearheaded the Gold Coast’s successful bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games has been dumped as chairman of the organising committee.
The Liberal National Party state government confirmed the new board would not include developer Mark Stockwell, a former Olympic swimming medallist and past president of the Property Council’s Queensland division.
The move comes in the wake of a rumoured disagreement between Mr Stockwell and senior LNP figures over the planned location for the athletes’ village.
In April, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported there was significant opposition to housing the village at Parklands, with the Gold Coast Harness Racing Club, the Gold Coast Show Society and Big Day Out organisers among those calling for a different location to be chosen.
But Mr Stockwell dug in on the location, telling the newspaper the bid was too advanced and contracts had already been signed.
He argued Parklands was big enough to host the village and the homes would have a strong resale value given it was close to key infrastructure.
Commonwealth Games Minister Jann Stuckey made no mention of the matter in her media statement, instead saying it was time to “transition to a board that has the confidence of the government, the Commonwealth Games Association, and the public”.
She said she would not put Mr Stockwell’s name forward for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games board due to be considered by Cabinet tomorrow because it was time for “a fresh start”.
The board would include four nominees from the state government and four nominees from the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.
The confirmation of Mr Stockwell’s exclusion comes two months after Ms Stuckey appeared to endorse him shortly after she was sworn in as a minister.
“As the Minister for the Commonwealth Games, I look forward to working closely with chairman Mark Stockwell and his team to ensure the event sees the Gold Coast, and Queensland, shine as a major tourism, sporting, events and business destination,” she said in a media release on April 4.
In her latest statement, Ms Stuckey acknowledged Mr Stockwell’s role in successfully steering the bid for the Gold Coast games, but said the government was working hard “to strike the right balance” with the new board.
While Mr Stockwell has played a significant role in the early stages of the Games, it is now time to move to the next phase and transition to a board that has the confidence of the government, the Commonwealth Games Association, and the public.
“To ensure that these games are delivered on time, and importantly on budget, the LNP Newman government needs to put in place a board that will quickly get on with the major infrastructure planning and delivery of this billion dollar event,” she said.
“What is needed now for the Gold Coast Games are well-credentialled people who have qualifications in law, finance, development, and the commercial sector along with prominent sporting people who can make a significant contribution in the building and operations of the games.”
In December, the former Labor government announced the appointment of Mr Stockwell as chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, in the wake of his success heading the bid.
The former government said he was appointed on the recommendation of then-premier Anna Bligh and the President of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday called on the Newman government to better explain its decision to dump Mr Stockwell.
“I sincerely hope that the decision did not rest on the fact Mr Stockwell was appointed by the previous government,” she said.
“Mr Stockwell is highly regarded in the business and sporting arenas, which just adds to the need for a fuller explanation from the government.
“Queenslanders and other Australians need to know that vital decisions about the 2018 Games are being taken on a sound and objective basis.”
The list of appointees to the board is due to go to Cabinet tomorrow and is expected to be made public after being endorsed at an Executive Council meeting on Thursday.
Comment has been sought from Mr Stockwell.