Brisbane’s highest profile event of all time – the G20 Leaders Summit – will have the city running in overdrive in November. Brad Foster previews what can be expected and the planning that has gone into it.

Barring a global catastrophe, international leaders and finance ministers from throughout the developed world will be in Brisbane next month for the premier forum for global economic cooperation. Probably the biggest and most high profile will be the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Activity around the event is intensifying as Brisbane, the federal government and the host venue, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, prepare to put out the welcome mat for an anticipated 4000 delegates including the leaders and their delegations and key officials from international organisations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.

On top of that there are expected to be around 3000 political, business and finance media from around the world.

A G20 spokesperson said the previous federal government has allocated $366 million to be utilised by the 10 Commonwealth Government departments and agencies involved in delivering the entire G20 host year, headed by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Treasury.

“By the time of the Summit a peak workforce of around 2500 staff, contractors and volunteers will be helping deliver this major event,” the spokesperson said.

“While the G20 Taskforce is based in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, many other agencies have been involved in the host year. These include the Treasury, the Department of Employment, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a number of other Commonwealth departments.

“Agencies involved in delivering operational and security services and support include the Department of Finance, the Attorney General’s Department, ASIO, the Department of Defence, the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Customs and Border Protection Service, AQIS, Airservices Australia and others.

“The Australian government has worked closely with state governments and jurisdictional police throughout the host year, in particular the Queensland government and Queensland Police Service, in preparation for the Summit. The Brisbane City Council will also play an important role in supporting the leaders’ meeting in November.”

Last month the BCEC unveiled giant banners celebrating the event as it chalked up, at the time of going to press, more than 321 hours or 148 site visits by participating countries and organisations.

At the unveiling, BCEC general manager, Bob O’Keeffe, acknowledged the unique opportunity of being chosen as host venue for the event.

“This is without doubt the best opportunity we will ever have to showcase the calibre and quality of the world-class facilities and expertise of the centre to an international audience,” he said.

“Hosting the G20 will place the centre and Brisbane at the forefront of international attention resulting in global positioning and profile for the centre and the city and providing a boost for the business events industry well into the future.”

Already the decision to host the G20 is having a positive effect, with O’Keeffe saying there has been increased interest in the centre because of the G20 Summit. He expects that to gather momentum further following the event.

“We will continue to target key international science, technology and research conferences and there are plans in place for increased activity in those sectors post G20,” he said.

Brisbane’s lord mayor, Graham Quirk, recently launched a Team Brisbane campaign to promote the city which, according to O’Keeffe, has had a unifying effect on city businesses and communities, with the centre strongly supporting the campaign.

A strong focus for Brisbane Marketing and the Queensland government has been community engagement. In the middle of this month (October 15) community information forums are scheduled for City Hall featuring speakers from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s G20 Taskforce, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet G20 State Coordination Unit, Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Police Service G20 Group.

The forums are designed to provide the latest information on event planning and city impacts, and show how organisers are working with the local community to deliver a successful summit.

Earlier it was decided that Friday, November 14, would be declared a public holiday, which is the day when the majority of the world leaders arrive in the city.

To ensure visitors are made to feel welcome, the G20 Taskforce spokesperson said 2000 hospitality and tourism staff were being trained as ‘destination hosts’ by Brisbane City Council. In addition, up to 700 volunteers, many from Brisbane, will lend a hand during the Summit.

Just weeks before the G20 the state government held a one-day G20 Queensland Trade and Investment Summit. The Treasurer and Minister for Trade, Tim Nicholls, and the Assistant Minister to the Premier, Deb Frecklington, both addressed the summit, which was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Kerry O’Brien, one of Australia’s most revered journalists, MC’d the event, and Bernard Salt, KPMG Partner, demographer and social commentator was the luncheon speaker.

Business opportunities
Brisbane’s G20 program began last year when the lord mayor briefed 450 business leaders on the city’s plans to capitalise on hosting the G20 Leaders Summit. He outlined the G20 Brisbane Opportunities Program featuring a series of six key initiatives:

1. Brisbane Global Cafe – A thought-leadership forum focusing on key sectors and issues important to our future and our place in the world. Brisbane Global Cafe has so far existed online but will culminate in a two-day thought-leadership event at City Hall on November 12 and 13. The Cafe’s themes are Improving Human Life, Powering Future Economies, Digital Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Tourism’s New Frontiers and Cities of the Future.

2. Choose Brisbane campaign – The highly successful Choose Brisbane media campaign, delivered in key international markets, has been extended to ensure Brisbane’s position as a serious player in business, research and study continues to grow. This year’s focus leveraged celebrity opportunities created by the city hosting of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

3. Social media campaign – Since February 2014, Brisbane Marketing has targeted G20 member nations, media, business leaders and the people of Brisbane with G20 host city updates, utilising key social media and other digital platforms including and #G20Brisbane.

4. International media visits – Brisbane Marketing has been hosting international journalist delegations to Brisbane throughout the year to maximise the opportunity offered by the G20 Leaders Summit.

5. Team Brisbane – Brisbane’s G20 year provided an ideal opportunity to stage a civic pride program. The campaign was launched by the Lord Mayor in August. The faces of the launch phase were influential business, sporting, scientific, cultural and industry leaders who have made their mark in Brisbane.

6. Brisbane Welcomes the World – The city continues to grow its reputation as one of the friendliest and most accessible cities in the world through its Brisbane Welcomes the World program for service staff and city volunteers.

Security spearheaded
Queensland Police say the security operation for the G20 Leaders Summit will be larger than any Olympic Games effort and the biggest operation Brisbane and Australia has ever seen.

Senior sergeant Scott Harris, G20 group business and critical engagement manager, said security arrangements during the summit were well advanced, as were traffic and transport plans for the city to accommodate the movement and security of visiting world leaders, delegates and the local community.

Changes to public transport and confirmation of road closures are being announced this month. Senior sergeant Harris did confirm that Central railway station would remain open during the summit and CityCats and ferries would also continue to operate.

Motorcade activity from November 14 to 16 will mean the closure of some roads to and from Brisbane Airport, with 35 separate parties arriving, travelling back and forth to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition centre and returning to the airport after the summit.

Police expect CBD retailers and restaurants to be very busy in the week leading up to the summit and over the three-day weekend.

Cultural program
A G20 Cultural Celebrations program designed to highlight Queensland on the world stage and invite the community to celebrate G20 in the lead-up to the Leaders’ Summit in November, gets underway this month.

From October 24 to November 16 the G20 cultural celebrations will offer a three-week program of events in Brisbane including Colour Me Brisbane and Brisbane on Parade.

Accommodation boom
More than 30 state aircraft are expected to arrive in Brisbane for the meeting. To cater for the thousands of expected visitors, more than 60 hotels have been contracted to provide the necessary accommodation. m

Australia was named as 2014 host of the G20 Leaders Summit in November 2011. The G20 Taskforce was established in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2012 to lead and coordinate policy and operations across the G20 host year.  In 2013 Australia became a member of the “troika”(comprised of the immediate past, the current and the next year’s host). It will remain a member of the troika, as immediate past president, when Turkey assumes the Presidency of the G20 after the Brisbane Summit. micenet AUSTRALIA will feature a follow-up to the event in its December 2014 edition.