“A slap in the face for the local events industry” is how international events producer, Tony Cochrane, described the decision to award production of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies to a foreign-owned business.

Cochrane, director of International Entertainment Consulting, has no interest in the Commonwealth Games events, but his fellow director, wife Thea, did produce the Gold Coast’s winning bid in 2011 which resulted in the region being awarded the games for 2018.

Late last year it emerged that Boston-based Jack Morton Worldwide was the successful tenderer for the 2018 Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies.

Ian Cochrane said he was not critical of Morton who enjoyed a good reputation, producing both Glasgow 2014 and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games ceremonies, “but they are not Australian and despite their claim, they have had no real presence in Queensland”.

“I am merely an interested observer with forty plus years on the Gold Coast but I am shocked,” said the man who is involved with the V8 supercars and AFL team Gold Coast Suns.

“There are four or five highly capable organisations who should have been given preferred status and I think they have been overlooked in favour of a US company that is an incredibly small part of a global advertising group with little but a shingle in Brisbane.

“My beef is with the Games Organising Committee who should have ensured this body of work went to an Australian organisation. It needs a distinctly Australian look and feel and we (Australians) are global leaders in doing these events… it is a sad reflection on the event industry that we had to go offshore.”

Lack of transparency…blindsided

Cochrane said that it appeared the Queensland government was not releasing details of the tender that saw Jack Morton appointed and which then led to three experienced Olympic and Commonwealth Games producers, Ric Birch, David Atkins and Julie Brook, publishing an open letter about the way the tender was handled.

None of the three were available for comment, but Cochrane says, “There’s a lack of transparency and it appears the government was blindsided by the organising committee”.

He said the Queensland Government, which had a one seat majority in parliament, “want to see this issue off” and hoped it would die down over the holiday period and certainly before parliament resumed.

He said that since he made his first public comment about the issue he had been overwhelmed by support for his stance from ordinary Queenslanders.

And he said despite assurances that Jack Morton would sub-contract local expertise for the productions, “there’s no way they won’t bring in senior people from overseas to design these productions”.

Retired Darwin businesswoman, Penni Tastula, said she was outraged and her Queensland friends were “cranky” about the decision.

“It has not only gone outside Australia, it has gone outside the Commonwealth too. And the comments after Glasgow were that they felt they got an American version rather than a Glaswegian flavoured event… looks like we’ll get the same.

“There’s a number of event producers on the Gold Coast and in Queensland who certainly could have produced these events”.

“Those who publicly complained will most likely get none of the work,” she added.

Neither organising committee spokesman Marcus Taylor nor Queensland’s Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Stirling Hinchliffe, could be contacted for comment.

However, Opposition spokesman, Ian Walker, has called on the Minister to explain to Queenslanders why local companies had been overlooked.