Residents and businesses rage against G20

BENJAMIN PRATT

With the G20 summit only days away, business owners and residents are confused and angry about the effects the influx of visitors could have on trade and day-to-day life.

To date, more than 5,000 delegates and 3,000 media representatives have registered to attend alongside a police presence of 6,000 in South Bank during the summit, not including visitors and residents.

There will be over 6,000 police officers patrolling Brisbane during the G20 (source: Westender)

There will be over 6,000 police officers patrolling Brisbane during the G20. Photo: Westender

Brisbane City Council has set a public holiday for Friday 14 November to ease congestion into the city.

The Premier’s Assistant Minister Deb Frecklington said despite the public holiday, South Bank businesses were open for visitors, delegates and the media to enjoy.

“Everything will be open for business in Brisbane on that weekend,” Ms Frecklington said.

“We are anticipating thousands of people in Brisbane over that weekend and businesses are able to take advantage of this unique opportunity,” she said.

In a press release issued this morning, the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary Josh Frydenberg said the presence of many international guests was a great opportunity for businesses.

“Welcoming such a large number of international visitors to Brisbane is great news for local businesses, particularly the many wonderful hotels, restaurants, cafés, shops and tourist attractions that will have Australia’s best hospitality on display for the Leaders Summit,” Mr Frydenberg said.

However, Barton Green, Chairman of Business South Bank,  the business association for the precinct consisting of 120 members and 10,000 staff, said a recent survey found that only 52% were planning to operate as normal during the G20 period.

“No business is being forced to stay open,” Mr Green said.

“In our dialogue with members, each seems to be assessing the choice to stay open or not based on commercial reasoning,” he said.

Business Southbank Chairman, Barton Green (douce: Business Southbank)

Business South Bank Chairman, Barton Green. Photo: Business Southbank

 

Mr Green said there was “a mix reaction ranging from great retail opportunities to concerns about the inconvenience”.

As it turns out, one of those inconveniences is the public holiday as there will be no compensation to businesses that are financially affected by the G20, or those forced to pay staff public holiday rates.

“Apart from the fact that the G20 is put on by the Federal Government, it is not something that we as a government will be compensating,” Ms Frecklington said.

In light of the information provided by Barton Green and Deb Frecklington, The Source News can confirm that San Churro Chocolateria on Grey Street will be closed from November 10 – 22, food and breakfast bar, The Beach House will close over the three day G20 summit; as will bustling bar, Fifth Element.

Smaller, local businesses who preferred to not be named were still undecided whether it was financially viable to stay open.

Queen Street Sales Assistant Renee Cowell said retailers and workers were expecting the city to be a ghost town as travel restrictions and the influx of people had made it a hassle for locals.

“We are expecting the G20 weekend to be terrible trading because no one wants to be in the city on that weekend,” Ms Cowell said.

“Many of our current customers are going elsewhere outside of the city to buy similar products.”

Due to the G20, public transport will be affected and road closures will be in effect.

Although with an estimated 15,000 visitors some fear traffic will descend into chaos and there have been minimal contingencies for the residents and patrons affected.

There will be a number of road closures during the G20 that will affect residents (source: Brisbane Times)

There will be a number of road closures during the G20 that will affect residents. Photo: Brisbane Times

Premier Campbell Newman has ruled out free public transport during the summit although Brisbane City Council has made 1000 car parks available for free in King George Square and Wickham Terrace in an attempt to encourage residents to stay.

In addition, the Go Between Bridge will be toll free for the three days of the summit.

Ms Cowell said although these initiatives had somewhat lessened the sting for residents, there didn’t seem to be anything in place for those who didn’t own a car or relied on public transport.

“The G20 will make the commute into work on that weekend very difficult as I drive into the city on roads that will be shut down,” Ms Cowell said.

“My buses and trains have already started changing and I can’t get an easy train or bus home because of the changes,” she said.

Business owners and residents said another major concern was the amount of security presence and negative stigma or media attention that might erupt from the G20.

They said this was even having an effect on Business South Bank as their staff were unable to work from their office during the summit.

“In relation to our physical office, given we are located on Merivale Street directly across from the BCEC, our staff will be working remotely during the week of G20,” Mr Green said.

Residents of Brisbane CBD and fringe suburbs said they also felt the looming security presence and anticipated invasion of over 10,000 more people, most of whom were choosing to take time off and stay away from South Bank altogether.

Brisbane resident Goeff Stein and his wife were staying away.

“My wife works close to the city at the Mater hospital and she’s chosen to take some time off, as have many of the staff,” Mr Stein said.

“We see Black Hawks during the day and occasionally at night, it was only last night that hornets woke us up around one in the morning.”

Although no Brisbane residents took up the $200 offer to leave their city it seems apparent that whether they work in the city or live in the city, it seems that most will be staying home and avoiding the 15,000 people storm South Bank next weekend.

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