Former Lord Mayors unite to preserve Victoria Park

Victoria Park Brisbane. | Newsreel
Five former Lord Mayors say we need to preserve Victoria Park as greenspace. | Photo: Lord Mayor's website

Five former Brisbane Lord Mayors descended on Victoria Park at the weekend to oppose a proposal build a stadium in the inner-city Herston parklands.

The plan for a new 55,000 stadium, to be the centrepiece of the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics, was suggested in an independent review of Games infrastructure last month.

Even though the suggestion was quickly rejected by Premier Steven Miles, debate continues.

On Sunday, former Lord Mayors Campbell Newman, Tim Quinn, Jim Soorley, Sallyanne Atkinson and Bryan Walsh, who presided over the city for three decades, united against any proposal for a stadium in Victoria Park.

The Victoria Park/Barrambin Residents Action Group said it was the first time in Brisbane’s history that former Lord Mayors, from different political parties, had joined forces to support a campaign on a major issue.

Campbell Newman, Lord Mayor from 2004-2011, said Victoria Park was set aside in the 1870s by citizens who had a vision of a 130ha inner-city park.

“Since then, successive governments have progressively carved it up until it’s now only half that size. A massive stadium is a body blow to that vision – it’s vital to now protect the park so that it remains fully accessible public green space for all time.”

Sallyanne Atkinson (Lord Mayor 1985-1991) said Brisbane needed green spaces close to the city to be its lungs.

“As a local Councillor I fought – and sadly lost – a campaign to save important green space in Fig Tree Pocket. We must not lose this one.”

Ms Atkinson’s successor Jim Soorley, who was Lord Mayor until 2003, said everyone was talking about legacy projects, but “what better legacy is there than to have a park like this, so large and so close to the city with brilliant views”.

“It’s our very own Central Park. It would be madness to build over it with a stadium.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Tim Quinn, Lord Mayor in 2003 and 2004.

“Hyde Park, Central Park and the Domain give London, New York and Sydney their character and their breathing space,” Mr Quinn said.

“That’s what Victoria Park should be. Not a stadium. Fix up the other stadiums and keep Victoria Park as a permanent green legacy.”

The elder statesperson of the group, Bryan Walsh, who wore the Lord Mayoral robes in 1975 and 1976, said we should aim for an Olympic Legacy of a successful games in venues the we could afford and which would be fully utilised in the future.

Mr Walsh said we did not want a legacy of bricks and mortar with limited use and accompanied by the loss of a great and beautiful open green space on the door step of the inner city.