Costly Newcastle expo bid on hold

THE NSW government baulked at funding a Newcastle bid for the International Exposition in 2017 after being told it would cost $15million to beat the competition.

As the Gold Coast celebrated being awarded the Commonwealth Games, after a bid heavily backed by the Queensland government, Newcastle was told to wait for its moment in the international spotlight.

Newcastle MP Tim Owen promised the government would ‘‘pull out all stops’’ to put together a winning bid for the 2022 expo.

He said the Coalition didn’t have access to Destinations Australia information in the lead up to the March election, when it promised to bid for the 2017 expo.

Destinations Australia has since advised the new government that a competitive bid would cost between $10million and $15million.

The contrast between Gold Coast and Newcastle, Australia’s sixth and seventh largest cities, has not gone unnoticed.

Newcastle lord mayor John Tate said he understood why the expo bid was abandoned.

‘‘But the fact of the matter is the [state government] has got to deliver for the area.’’

Cr Tate said Newcastle had successfully hosted about 20,000 athletes for the 2001 Australian Masters Games, and had the capacity to host international events.

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan said a bid for the expo should be properly planned and have ‘‘long-term benefits’’ for the wider region.

Newcastle councillor Aaron Buman has previously argued that Hunter councils should amalgamate and adopt the local government model used in the Gold Coast.

The Queensland government will invest about $500million in infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games, which is expected to create about 30,000 jobs and pump $2billion into the economy.

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