Brisbane 2032 Olympics: How procurement can deliver a legacy for Queensland

July 2024

How do we make sure that the legacy goes beyond economic development to really deliver sustainable social impact for Queensland, but really also for the rest of Australia. How does Queensland become a real beacon about how to do this well?

ArcBlue’s Elisabeth Lette, Kylie McKinlay and Chris Newman discuss the opportunity to leverage procurement in the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics to generate social, economic and environmental benefits from the Games and deliver a lasting legacy for Queensland.


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Kylie: Hi Lis, I’ve been talking to clients a lot lately about the Olympics Games coming to Brisbane in 2032 and I think there’s a great opportunity for procurement to leave a legacy. So what should we be doing now as procurement practitioners to prepare ourselves and the supply market for the opportunities that are going to come in the Games?

Lis: Yeah, it takes time to build trusted relationships and to create the confidence for organisations, businesses to want to invest in a region so it’s really important that procurement teams are starting to plan and prepare now. At the same time, it’s important that we don’t create a scenario where there’s a cliff after the Games and all of this activity falls off. It’s really important to be considering and planning long term around what those supplier relationships need to look like. Not only in the lead up to the Games, so that they can achieve their intended purpose, like you said, of leaving a legacy for the region.

Kylie: So, I would imagine there’d be a lot of suppliers in the state, nationally, even internationally, that are looking to converge on the Games as an opportunity for business, or maybe starting their business in Queensland. Do you think it puts more pressure on procurement practitioners to even further simplify procurement processes to help facilitate that involvement of more suppliers coming in that might not be familiar with our ways of doing things, do you think the pressure on us to make it simpler will increase in the lead in to the Games?

Lis: I think there’s a real responsibility on procurement practitioners to be making their procurement – regardless of the circumstances – as simple, and as minimal an administrative or red-tape burden for any supplier, regardless of their size and regardless of the complexity of the procurement. There’s a responsibility to be making your tendering and procurement processes as readily accessible, to as wide a variety of suppliers as possible, because, inevitably, what that will do is drive competition, and competition will also bring about greater value for money.

Kylie: Will we be likely to see more co-design happening between buyers and suppliers moving forward because we’ve got, you mentioned, infrastructure projects – and sometimes suppliers are kept at arm’s length – so do you think that this sort of need and massive program of work might facilitate an opportunity for that collaboration and more co-design happening than previously?

Lis: I think it’s an opportunity for us to be innovative and challenge traditional ways of undertaking procurement which have historically been based on an imbalance of power. And let’s recognise the organisation – the buying organisation – has traditionally taken the approach of, there’s been a real information asymmetry. The buying organisation puts out a tender to the market which is then responded to. We need to be thinking about what can we do differently to make our suppliers, and enable our suppliers to be more agile to meet changing needs. And co-design – working together with the market- and breaking down that traditional buyer-supplier silo (us vs. them), and developing more of that approach of bringing suppliers in earlier to understand what your organisational challenges might be.

Kylie: In talking to organisations this far out, should they be really focusing on being that ‘customer of choice’ because there will be a restriction of resources and suppliers and it will be a really busy time – particularly in the south-east corner, so buyers need to be able to differentiate themselves just like suppliers do.

Lis: Absolutely, and we do very much know, looking across particularly the eastern seaboard, at around about the time of the Games or in the years leading up to it, there’s a multitude of large, say for example infrastructure, renewables, construction projects – all happening at around the same time. We know more broadly as well that there’s limited labour supply, limited housing, so there’s certainly things that from a procurement perspective, procurement teams need to be thinking ahead now in terms of their ability to, like you said, prepare themselves to be a buyer of choice. Part of that now is starting to build those relationships with your existing suppliers, signaling as an organisation what your forward procurement pipeline might look like to attract new participants. They’ll be willing to invest resources in an area to build a presence if they can see or have the confidence that there’s going to be a forward pipeline of work for them to respond to.

Chris: I think procurement has a critical role. When we look ahead at the Queensland Olympics now, 8 years away seems like a long time but when we think about the amount of investment that’s going to take place and of course, there’s an enormous amount of investment happening anyway in Queensland as we’ve seen the growth of renewable energy, we’re seeing the infrastructure-type of investment and then we’ve got this opportunity that the Olympics presents. It feels this is a really great period of time to really think about – what do we need to do? What are the elements that we need to put in place to make sure that we have the right procurement capability, that we put the right time, energy, thought, understanding, marketing analysis, work into the way we’re going to procure. Not just for the Olympics, but the way we’re procuring this level of investment that’s happening n Queensland. And how do we make sure we put the right support, activity, engagement, training in place to make sure that the Queensland suppliers, that potential Queensland employees, that the partners are in place.

All of those elements are going to be so important to make sure that the Queensland Olympics not only delivers this incredible event but really becomes an – not just the event itself but this period in time – becomes something that helps to transform the way that we invest in this community. And we’re really delivering employment outcomes and pathways to sustainable employment for a broad range of people in our community. How do we make sure that the legacy goes beyond economic development to really deliver sustainable social impact for Queensland, but really also for the rest of Australia. How does Queensland become a real beacon about how to do this well?

I think this is a tremendous opportunity – when we think 8 years out – it won’t happen if we’re thinking about it with 5 minutes to go – it’s going to happen now. And it’s going to happen if we collaborate and recognise that procurement’s going to be this incredible opportunity and a change for the procurement community to make not only the Games be an incredible outcome, but have it have a generational impact in our community.