Bligh to play no part in Gold Coast 2018 preparations after being crushed in elections
Monday, 26 March 2012
March 26 - Anna Bligh (pictured), the 37th Premier of Queensland, will play no part in the preparations for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, despite helping the Australian city win the event, after she was crushed in the state election and subsequently announced her retirement from politics.
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) member played a huge role in supporting the Gold Coast bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was even present at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis in November when the Australian city defeated sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka by 43 votes to 27.
But the 51-year-old was left humiliated as her party suffered the worst defeat of a sitting Government in Queensland history.
From 51 seats in 2009, it was reduced to only seven seats, suffering a swing of 15.4 per cent.
Bligh's defeat came at the hands of Campbell Newman of the Liberal National Party (LNP), who has now been sworn in as the Premier of Queensland.
Following the landslide defeat, Bligh announced that she was retiring from politics.
She had intended to stay in the Queensland Parliament but said that the severity of Labor's defeat made her realise the party could not develop a real opposition to Newman and the LNP with her involved.
"Queensland needs an effective opposition and Queensland Labor can only do that if it rebuilds and recovers and renews, and I don't believe they can effectively do that while I'm sitting in their ranks," Bligh said.
As the new Premier, Newman (pictured) will be charged with helping establish the Organising Committee Board that will run the Gold Coast's 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Bligh had originally hoped to establish the new Board at the beginning of the year but delayed the plans due to the election.
Newman is unlikely to make major changes to the Gold Coast 2018 Bid Board with the new Board to be headed by Mark Stockwell, the chairman of the bid and now the Organising Committee.
Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) President Sam Coffa will be included by virtue of the fact that the ACGA President is mandated to be on the Board, while ACGA chief executive Perry Crosswhite and Gold Coast 2018 chief executive Mark Peters are also likely to be involved.
Newman also has the power to oversee the preparations for the Games personally by appointing himself as Commonwealth Games Minister.
But one influential figure now likely to miss out on the Gold Coast 2018 preparations will be athletics legend Ron Clarke after he also suffered defeat while running for a seat in Queensland's State election.
The 75-year-old from Victoria was another key figure throughout the Gold Coast 2018 bid campaign when he served as Gold Coast Mayor but he resigned from the position last month to stand as an independent candidate for the highly marginal state seat of Broadwater in the north of the Gold Coast.
However, he obtained only six per cent of the vote as he was emphatically beaten by LNP's Verity Barton.
But Clarke (pictured), who is known widely across Australia as one of the world's best middle and long-distance runners during the 1960s, admitted that he has no regrets.
"It was always a long shot," he said.
"It is a pity."
Asked what he had planned for the future, Clarke joked "it was up to (my wife) Helen."
He acknowledged a role in helping to prepare the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast would be great but he believes that chance has been lost because he stood as an independent against the LNP.
It is a blow for Clarke, who lit the Olympic Flame at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games when he was still a promising 19-year-old.
He won Olympic bronze at the Tokyo 1964 Games and four Commonwealth Games silver medals across three editions of the competition.
He also set 17 world records in a remarkable career.
March 2012: Gold Coast 2018 confident they can deliver Commonwealth Games on budget despite claims costs rising
February 2012: Ron Clarke steps down as Gold Coast Mayor to stand for seat in Queensland poll
February 2012: Gold Coast 2018 Board to be set-up after Queensland state election
December 2011: Bligh under pressure over cost of 2018 Commonwealth Games
December 2011: Stockwell formally announced as chairman of Gold Coast 2018