The Victorian opposition claims the Andrews government’s heavily publicised plan to build hundreds of new homes ahead of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, and later to use them for social housing, was a con that was never meant to come to fruition.
The allegation follows revelations the government was in discussions with the caravan industry to provide 10,000 mobile homes – free of charge – to accomodate games officials and staff during the now-abandoned event.
Prior to the games’ cancellation, the government promised to build medium-density dwelings and small apartment buildings in regional centres that were to host events: Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Morwell.
Geelong was scheduled to host nine events, with an athletes village to be constructed at the Waurn Ponds station precinct to house more than 2,500 athletes an officials.
It has now been revealed the Andrews government was in talks with the caravan industry for months before the cancellation of the event.
However Acting Premier Jacinta Andrews said no formal request for mobile accomodation had been made.
However Caravan Industry Victoria chief executive Daniel Sahlberg said he had held discussions with the government after games organisers realised there were limited options for the accommodation of support staff.
“I ended up getting the Bendigo council and the Geelong council ringing me as well and sort of say … ‘That’s really good because we’ve got no accommodation’,” Mr Sahlberg told The Age.
“I said, ‘We’re here to help’, and it escalated from there.”
Victorian opposition Commonwealth Games spokesman and deputy opposition leader David Southwick said he doubted there were ever any genuine plans to build housing that would later be repurposed to helpease the accommodation crisis.
“This is more evidence that the Commonwealth Games was a giant con and reinforces how important the inquiry will be to get to the bottom of this debacle and how much it has cost Victorians,” he posted on Facebook.
“The Andrews Government has put Victoria into more debt than NSW, QLD and TAS combined and because of this, it can’t deliver major projects like the Commonwealth Games.”
The state government has promised to spend $2 billion on housing and infrastructure in the regions following the decision to cancel the games.