Some of you who read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch a bit of tele may have heard Prime Minister Julia Gillard announce that Brisbane will be hosting the G20 Leaders Summit in 2014 (see page 10-11).
Some of you also may have heard the NSW Government claim that as Australia’s so-called “gateway city” Sydney should have been given the nod to host the event. This is despite the fact that the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre will be closed during this period for redevelopment.
The NSW Government Planning Minister Brad Hazzard denied this was the reason Sydney missed out on the G20 Summit, saying they had offered venues in Circular Quay as alternatives including the Sydney Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Certainly the Opera House could accommodate the group for plenary sessions, but what about large concurrent sessions? I don’t think so.
Oh no but they also offered the Museum of Contemporary Art. Great idea there! Its Foundation Hall has a maximum capacity of 300 while its Harbourside Room can comfortably seat up to 200 theatre-style and the Quayside Room can seat 100 pax. Gee, that’ll work Mr Hazzard.
It seems the decision by the NSW Government to completely close the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre in this instance has come back to bite them. And more importantly, those who work in the sector in NSW. (Prior to the announcement of the G20 Summit the organisers of the Australian International Motor Show announced it was moving the event from Darling Harbour to Homebush in 2014. My bet is that once it’s settled there it won’t be returning to the city.)
But it’s not the NSW Government’s lame excuses that I want to talk about here. What I want to say is “where’s Brisbane?”
I know where Brisbane is. In fact, I grew up there. I was there for the 1974 flood that people compared the most recent flood to, I went to the Brisbane World Expo back in 1988, and I have to confess that I go for Queensland in the State of Origin rugby league competition. If an opportunity to visit the city arises I’m always ready to put up my hand and revisit the place I have such fond memories of as a kid.
If people ask me what I think of Brisbane I’m always very positive because I genuinely think it’s a great place. Which gets me to my point: let’s hope the peak body that is charged with marketing the city shouts its latest and greatest win from the rooftops for the whole world to hear; let’s hope that Brisbane Marketing embraces this great opportunity and spreads the word about how this city beat the rest of Australia to host one of the most prestigious meetings in the world.
In the competitive world of destination marketing and bidding for meetings, securing the G20 Leaders’ Summit has the potential to grow Brisbane’s events business for years to come.  But that won’t happen unless everybody knows about it.
I know the city will embrace this opportunity so that planners the world over won’t be saying “Where’s Brisbane?” but “Yes, we know about Brisbane and we’re coming there very soon!”  And that’s definitely a good thing!