Brisbane City Council attack on Adele concert was not its greatest hit

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Brisbane City Council won't do that again (Image screenshot @7NewsQueensland)

Brisbane City Council has tarnished its reputation locally and internationally with its attacks on the Adele concert held in the city last weekend.

Council representatives should take the opportunity to reflect on that.

Adele was reported internationally to have criticised the council over their opposition to the concert being held at the world famous Gabba stadium. This followed criticism by Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner, aimed at the organisers of the event. Schrinner is a member of the Liberal National Party (LNP), which holds the majority of wards in the City of Brisbane Council.

Schrinner’s major problem was the venue, which he believed was unsuitable for the event. He stated that he would have preferred if it was held at Suncorp Stadium, because he believed it was a better venue. Transport was also a problem for Councillor Schrinner.

The opposition to the concert seemed to take a sinister turn on the weekend the concerts were held, when it was revealed that the streets surrounding The Gabba had become tow away zones during the shows. This affected the streets where local residents parked their cars and the streets outside local businesses.

Signs were placed by the Council during the night before the concert, without prior notice to the locals or shop owners, limiting parking to 15 minutes. Lord Mayor Graham Quirk appeared on television the next night saying it was not Council’s responsibility to tell people about the changed parking conditions, even though the Council would be towing the cars away. Quirk stated that the concert organisers were completely to blame for failing to notify the local people of the changes and that the changes were only necessary because of the concert.

However, the real reasons for Council’s opposition to the concert may go much deeper than that and could reveal a mindset within the LNP which most Australians find unpalatable.

The Adele concert was announced by the Queensland Labor government in November 2016, the first concert at the Gabba in more than 40 years. Quill and the LNP-controlled Brisbane City Council were conspicuously quiet about the concert from the day it was announced.

Most large concerts in Brisbane are held at either the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 20 kilometres north of the City centre, or at Suncorp Stadium, located near the CBD. There were rumblings around Town Hall that the LNP opposed the concert being held in the City’s east, and preferred Suncorp Stadium, as there is an established entertainment precinct adjacent to Suncorp. Many of these entertainment venues are donors to the LNP.

The Gabba Stadium, however, is in The Gabba local government ward, currently held by Greens Party Councillor Jonathon Sri and previously held by the Labor Party since 1985. Brisbane City Council has been controlled by the Liberal Party and the LNP since 2003.

The LNP believed they were going to win the Gabba Ward at last year’s elections and were somewhat miffed when they didn’t. The Greens and the LNP are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, so there may be some resentment by the LNP at having a Greens councillor in Town Hall. Mayor Quill has chastised Councillor Sri at a personal level on several occasions, including over his share housing arrangements and his opposition to an $800 million housing development in Brisbane’s West End.

Whether Council’s opposition to the concert venue was a political statement or not, Brisbane City Council would be well advised not to pick fights with powerful, well-respected and highly popular international celebrities like Adele. The criticisms could easily be interpreted as personal attacks, or part of a political play by any reasonable person and her rebuke has reflected badly on Brisbane around the world. It has also reflected badly on Quirk and the council locally.

By all accounts, Council's concerns were unwarranted and council say they no longer have any objections to concerts at The Gabba. Transport was not a major problem, nor were the crowds or the interruptions to traffic. Up to $40 million was injected into the City’s economy over the two days as a result of the concert.

Brisbane relies on tourism for a large part of its economy and attracting international superstars to the city will help boost the tourism industry. The Gabba has shown itself to be capable of holding larger crowds than the City’s other two concert venues, and dealing with the crowd control and transportation requirements demanded of it.

The City Council, State and Federal governments should learn from that and consider promoting The Gabba to attract more celebrities with the pulling power that Adele has. The Gabba also now has far more major sporting events than any other sporting facility in Brisbane and these events are all year round. For these reasons, the area might be suitable as another entertainment precinct and this may be something positive council could take from an unfortunate incident.

You can follow Craig Hill on Twitter @CraigHillNet.

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