THE chief city of one of the greatest wealth-producing regions of one of the most prosperous nations on Earth can’t compete with a city in recession-riven Europe to host International Expo 2017.
According to the government, it would be a waste of money for Newcastle to even attempt to compete against the Belgian city of Liege or Astana in Kazakhstan.
That’s the incredible excuse offered by the NSW government for dumping its election promise to spend $1 million on a bid to win the event for Newcastle.
On March 19, when then opposition leader Barry O’Farrell promised the million-dollar bid, he said the expo could attract millions of people and showcase Newcastle to the world.
International Expo is a smaller event than the more well-known World Expo. It runs for three months and is supposed to occupy a site no bigger than 25 hectares. The most recent International Expo, at Zaragoza, Spain, in 2008, attracted 5.6 million visitors.
A successful Newcastle bid would have required the construction of a new convention centre, extra performance spaces and better transport links.
Back in March Mr O’Farrell said land at Cottage Creek, Honeysuckle, would be well-suited for the purpose.
“I cannot think of a better city to stage expo than Newcastle and we’ve found an ideal site which will showcase the city at its very best,” were Mr O’Farrell’s words.
The now-Premier of NSW even identified the city’s growing expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency as the perfect theme for the expo.
Mr O’Farrell said responsibility for the bid would lie with the Sydney-based bureaucratic organisation Destination NSW. That, along with political expediency, may help explain the idea’s demise.
Again and again, the Hunter Region finds to its cost that capital city agencies have little interest in its welfare and often actively work against its interests.
The dismal sop now being offered – that the feasibility of mounting a bid for the year 2022 will be studied – is so laughable it would have been better left unsaid.