The AFL Women’s grand final hosting bungle will cost Queensland taxpayers $400,000 after the state government made public transport free across the state’s southeast on Saturday.
The fallout from controversially moving the inaugural AFLW decider from the Gabba to the Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium continued on Wednesday due to the need to allow fans to travel for free.
Normally, the Queensland government arranges free transport for sports ticket-holders but given Saturday’s final between the Brisbane Lions and Adelaide is not ticketed, there will be no way to prove who is attending the event.
With AFL, NRL and A-League matches in SEQ also on the same day, Transport Minister Jackie Trad was forced to throw out public transport ticketing in a move expected to cost $400,000.
The ticketing issue only became apparent after Stadiums Queensland made their heavily-criticised move to protect the Gabba’s surface on Monday, by which time it was too late to come up with a plan.
The state’s opposition was quick to lay the blame at the Labor government for not ensuring the Gabba was fit to host the Lions-Adelaide final, which will not be played before the men’s Gold Coast-Brisbane AFL local derby.
Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls said it should have done more to protect and then fix the cricket pitch area which was damaged and re-turfed following the sold-out Adele concerts on March 4 and 5.
“And now in order to cover up their stuff-up, they’re using taxpayer’s money,” Mr Nicholls said on Wednesday.
“They had four weeks’ notice of the potential of a grand final up here.
“They control Stadiums Queensland, it’s the Gabba that seems not to be fit to be able to use for the grand final.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stressed the Gabba’s surface was “unsafe” and said as the grand final was a free non-ticketed event. She said the government was not going discriminate against Queenslanders wanting to support their team.
“I wasn’t going to stand for that, so we decided to make transport available for everyone in the southeast,” she said.
Translink is also looking at upping the number of trains to the Gold Coast to ensure Brisbane fans can make their way to and from Metricon Stadium.