Senate probes state decision to ditch games

August 29, 2023 8:48 am in by
G21's Giulia Baggio and Geelong mayor Trent Sullivan [Ch9]

Underestimations of the difficulty, cost and preparedness hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria are being highlighted in a touring Senate Inquiry.

Yesterday we heard G21 CEO Giulia Baggio tell the hearing that cost blowouts due to hosting the games regionally are likely a classic example of the rural-city divide.

“The cost in regional areas is perhaps not well enough understood by people in the major city where they are making the decisions,” she said.

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The coalition led hearings are a federal probe of Premier Daniel Andrews’ controversial decision to ditch the event, after initial estimates of event costs blew out from $2.6b to as much as $7b.

“Obviously there’s a question around why were the sums not what they should have been,” Ms Baggio said.

The regional lobby leader told the committee planning for the games also exposed holes in the regions readiness for major events, particularly housing and transport.

“I think the pivot now is in filling those gaps to make sure we are prepared for major events, and that’s the purpose of this committee,” Ms Baggio said.

Geelong Mayor Trent Sullivan spoke of how the local government had been largely excluded from major planning decisions for the games, and cited a venue shift for the aquatic centre as an example. The state governments business case for the games listed Kardinia Park as the preferred site, but it was later announced for Armstrong Creek.

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“I believe the state purely went with their preference,” Cr Sullivan said.

He and others are now questioning what infrastructure projects that were initially promised for the games will go ahead.

“We’re still having great concerns about funding levels which are going to be delivered, is infrastructure going to be seen,” he said.

Ms Baggio told the hearing a September meeting with Andrews government minister Harriet Shing had been booked for Geelong stakeholders to discuss where to from now, although Cr Sullivan suggested the city may yet to have been invited as there was nothing in his diary about it.

The hearing continues in Bendigo today.