By Duncan Mackay

Tom Tate_head_and_shouldersApril 28 - Tom Tate has won the election to become new Mayor of Gold Coast City, which means he will play a leading role in preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games which are being staged in the city.

The millionaire businessman replaces the 1964 Olympic 10,000 metres bronze medallist Ron Clarke who resigned after eight years to mount an unsuccessful bid as an independent in the Queensland election last month.

Tate justified his hot favourite's tag by claiming 36 per cent of the primary ballot with 38,093 votes, nearly twice as many as his nearest rival, Eddy Sarroff, on 19,485. 

Tate, who is originally from Laos but whose family emigrated to Australia more than 40 years ago, owns the Islander Resort Hotel in Surfers Paradise, as well as the Sanctuary Resort in Malaysia.

While he is not able to boast the sporting record of Clarke, one of the greatest distance runners in history who set 17 world records and whose credentials proved so important during the Gold Coast's successful bid, Tate is closely involved in local sport.

He is the founder and co-owner of the Gold Coast Blaze, which competes in Australia's National Basketball League, and is also a former director of Gold Coast Rugby.

But it does mean that the team that led the bid, where the Gold Coast beat Sri Lankan city Hambantota, will not be involved in the organisation of the Games.

Anna Bligh, the Premier of the Queensland, who, along with Clarke, led the Gold Coast's final preparations in St Kitts and Nevis last November was beaten in last month's election and replaced by the Liberal National Party's (LNP) Campbell Newman.

Tate is also a member of the LNP but Newman refused to back his campaign as Susie Douglas, also a Party member, was standing.

Tom Tate_election_for_Gold_Coast_Mayor
Tate's manifesto barely mentioned the Commonwealth Games, except in relation to transport, where he wrote: "[The Gold Coast City] Council must...leverage Commonwealth Games funding by the Federal and State Governments to ensure the city reaps long-term benefits in the form of transport infrastructure including completion of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) and extension of heavy rail all the way to Coolangatta."

But in a blog posted on November 14 - three days after the Gold Coast were awarded the Games - he acknowledged that it offered "an incredible boost to the Gold Coast economy and infrastructure and have the potential to make this city world renowned".

He wrote: "Our challenge now is to make the Commonwealth Games work for the Gold Coast by way of creating local jobs, building our infrastructure and growing our economy.

"It has been estimated that the Games could have the potential economic benefit of up to $2 billion (£1.3 billion/€1.5 billion) and be responsible for the creation of more than 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs from 2015 to 2020.

"Major dollars will need to be spent on infrastructure development – an estimated $400 million (£246 million)/€302 million) on sporting infrastructure, $500 million (£307 million/€377 million) on transport infrastructure and $700 million (£430 million/€528 million) on the Games Village.

"This is a long term investment for the Gold Coast city so it is imperative we get it right – not just for the Commonwealth Games, but also for the future benefit of the Gold Coast residents and visitors.

"In addition to the considerable commitment in transport and sporting infrastructure, as a city we also need to take this opportunity to capitalise on other city building opportunities, promote new business investment options, redefine our brand and reputation and develop a great sense of community pride."

Tate's manifesto also promised to fund his own overseas trips, which presumably include too Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games where, as Mayor of the next host city, he will be expected to attend to receive the Commonwealth Games Federation flag.

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