Andrew Barr has launched a last-minute attempt to sway a federal government review into keeping the AIS in Canberra, declaring "the ship has sailed" on moving the facility to Queensland in time for the 2032 Olympic Games.
The ACT Chief Minister also found an unlikely ally in Queensland LNP senator Matt Canavan on Monday, who told The Canberra Times he was "very suspicious" of the Albanese government-ordered review and insisted "not everything has to be in Queensland".
Submissions into the review, which is examining the future of the AIS in Canberra and relocation options, are due on Tuesday.
But a spokesperson for Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk said the Queensland government had declined the opportunity to pitch for a $1 billion relocation of the Bruce campus, easing fears of an interstate fight for the AIS.
Even so, the ACT government has scheduled a second meeting with the review panel members to reinforce its desire to revitalise the precinct and jointly funding new facilities and a stadium refurbishment.
The federal and Queensland governments are already locked in a stoush over infrastructure, with Mr Canavan the chair of a separate Senate committee examining Australia's preparedness to host the Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Breaking from Queensland parochialism, Senator Canavan declared his state was already getting enough and may struggle with extra infrastructure associated with a home Olympics and Paralympics.
"I'm very suspicious. I don't think governments tend to start reviews like this unless they know what the answer is or what the answer they'd like to be. And it seems very strange," he said.
"Speaking as a Queensland senator, I think we've got enough in Queensland. Not desperate for it, but I note the nation's Treasurer is from Queensland, the Sports Minister is from Queensland. Maybe the fix is in here on this?
"I reckon the Parliament House should be moved to the Gold Coast before the AIS. I would love to spend 20 weeks a year on the coast."
Political and sporting figures, including former Australia Olympic Committee president John Coates, have come out to urge that the "national home of sport" stays in the national capital.
The Australian Sports Commission, which administers the AIS, has highlighted a $1 billion price tag and an additional four-year time frame for moving the facility to south-east Queensland ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics.
The Albanese government insists it is seeking a "clear-eyed view" of the AIS with an independent review of its "optimal" location, facilities, and required investment. The two-and-a-half month, two-person review is being undertaken by the chair of the National Intermodal Corporation Erin Flaherty and the chief executive of Sport Inclusion Australia and Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee board member Robyn Smith.
Senator Canavan - a former Canberra resident before his move into politics - said on cost alone relocating the AIS did not add up and the elite training facility was not wanted up north.
"I don't want to poach everything from every other state. And this institution has worked well here in the ACT. It is something all Australians can be proud of," Senator Canavan said.
"We're going to be struggling in south-east Queensland to build the infrastructure we need just for the games. And given the short time-frames now I think adding this on top just poses another risk here of not getting this done."
The federal government has hit troubled waters with the Queensland Labor government over cuts to the state's infrastructure funding in last week's federal infrastructure overhaul.
Mr Barr told a hearing in Canberra on Monday that any possible AIS move can't be justified for both economic and planning reasons.
"The relocation options are far more expensive, far more uncertain. And we are eight to nine years out from the Brisbane Olympics," the Chief Minister said.
"If the idea or purpose or rationale for moving the AIS to south-east Queensland was for those Olympics, that ship has sailed. It's too late."
Queensland officials have been lobbying to move the AIS to south-east Queensland for several years ahead of the Brisbane Games and they have been backed by former Sports Commission chairman John Wylie who has criticised the location and age of the Bruce campus.
Mr Coates, the Opposition's infrastructure spokesperson Bridget McKenzie, former Australian Sports Commission head Jim Ferguson, and Canberra figures such as the Chief Minister, independent ACT senator David Pocock, federal Labor MPs Andrew Leigh, David Smith and Alicia Payne want the AIS to stay in the ACT despite the uncertainty of location raised by the review.
There was also the same high cost and risk associated with decentralising the AIS functions across various states and territories. Ultimately, the commission, headed by swimming legend Kieren Perkins, chose the option of staying in Canberra but spending $200 million to upgrade existing facilities.
Senator Canavan said a permanent decision for the AIS should not be based on temporary factors such as a one-off international sporting event.
"Not everything has to be in Queensland. I love Queensland, but we are getting the Olympics and a lot of other related infrastructure for that," he said
"I think the AIS has worked really well in Canberra. The Sports Commission wants to keep it in Canberra. And I think we should back them and make the necessary investments to generate another generation of successful Australian athletes."
The Canberra Times reached out to the Federal Infrastructure Minister, but Catherine King declined to comment.
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