Brisbane city to be focus of Obama photo shoots

A scene from Brisbane CBD, with lady walking across plaza towards camera.
The G20 Summit propelled Brisbane city into the glare of the media spotlight.

Just as the World Cup is doing for Brazil, the G20 Leaders Summit in November will place Brisbane in the glare of the international spotlight.

“In terms of media exposure, it raises Brisbane’s profile significantly” says Griffith University researcher, Dr Wesley Widmaier, who has closely observed the impact and knock-on benefits for G20 host cities like Pittsburgh in recent years.

“Every network, every news broadcast all over the world will be talking about Brisbane. It’s reaffirming our status as a global city.”

Wes.cropDr Widmaier has pioneered G20 studies at Griffith’s Centre for Governance and Public Policy. He is an expert on international political economy, international relations theory, and crises as mechanisms of change policy.

He says hosting a gathering of world leaders and doing it well will place Brisbane on a worldwide pedestal.

“It raises the profile of the city. There are always options for people holding events, and this will help Brisbane raise its profile in terms of those options. Moreover, in terms of events a city can host, the G20 is an important forum for addressing the global public good — and so Brisbane benefits from this event by showing itself to be a city of substance.”

An economic benefit of $100 million is predicted to accrue for Brisbane from hosting the summit. Making the G20 work for the city can be strategically planned, Dr Widmaier says, pointing to the 2009 summit in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh was a kind of rust-belt, steel-laden city grappling with industrial decline, and the G20 provided an opportunity to address this and raise the city’s image, and Pittsburgh did very well out of the G20 summit.”

While acknowledging the significant differences between Pittsburgh 2009 and Brisbane 2014, Dr Widmaier says America’s Steel City provided a model for subsequent host cities.

“It shows the potential to brand a city. But every city is different.”

Dr Widmaier acknowledges that it is possible a negative impression could result in the event of disruptive protests on the streets of Brisbane during the G20 Summit. He is confident, however, that the city authorities have prepared well.

“There is protesting that contributes to debate and there is protest that drowns out others’ views, and I think protesters have themselves learned since the ‘Battle in Seattle’ that they risk their own agendas where they impede the free flow of ideas.”