South Bank theatre with $25M cost blow out shouldn’t have been funded by Qld Gov’t in first place

Yesterday, the Brisbane Times reported COVID-19, airconditioning blamed for South Bank theatre cost blowout. The new $150 million state-government-provided theatre attached to QPAC at South Bank will cost an extra $25 million. And the project is less than one quarter done, so there may be further cost blow outs. In my view, the theatre shouldn’t have been approved and funded in the first place, as it wouldn’t stack up. The cost blowout will substantially reduce what I always thought would be a pretty low benefit-cost ratio.

In my 2015 post New 1,500 seat theatre would likely be a waste of taxpayers’ money, I argued the new theatre was a bad idea on both efficiency and equity grounds. I then doubled down on my opposition to the theatre in response to a critique of my position by the Courier-Mail’s Paul Syvret, which you can read about in my post Courier-Mail’s Paul Syvret on my “coldly commercial prism”.

Finally, my opposition to the project was strengthened when I learned the government was actually crowding out the development of a private-sector-run theatre at the old State Library site on William St, as I discussed in my 2018 post Better to let the private sector risk money on a new Brisbane theatre.

The new South Bank theatre is a poor public project which should never have been approved and funded by the state government.

The Playhouse QPAC at South Bank Brisbane. Photo by Jennifer Tunny.

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