April 24, 2024

Australia Commonwealth Games 2026: Victoria cancels event after costs blow out to $7bn | Commonwealth Games

Daniel Andrews has cancelled Victoria’s 2026 Commonwealth Games, saying he is not prepared to spend as much as $7bn on “a 12-day sporting event”.

On Tuesday morning the premier announced the cancellation, saying the cost had blown out and he would instead be redirecting money to housing and sporting infrastructure in the state.

“What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these games in 2026 is not the $2.6bn which was budgeted and allocated,” he said.

“It is in fact at least $6bn and could be as high as $7bn, and I cannot stand here and say to you that I have any confidence that even $7bn number would appropriately and adequately fund these Games.”

In 2022 the government announced that the Games would be hosted across regional Victorian centres, including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton.

Andrews said the government would still build the sporting facilities it had promised regional communities, including the proposed upgrade to Ballarat’s stadium.

His government had planned to host the event across five regional sites in Victoria. It was expecting the federal government would contribute half of the costs, with most of the funding going towards infrastructure.

Andrews said he would not take money from other parts of the budget, such as health to deliver the Games.

“That is a much better way to go forward and we are simply not going to invest that sort of money and have to take it from key service delivery, from other parts of government, in order to deliver a 12-day sporting event,” he said.

Andrews said the government has had an “amicable’ and ‘productive” conversation with the Games authorities in London, and they have been informed of the cost issues.

“We will continue to talk with them, not through the media,” he said.

Asked if there would be costs associated with cancelling the games, Andrews said it was the subject of negotiations with the governing body.

The government would still spend up to $2bn on building “legacy” sporting facilities and infrastructure it had promised regional communities, such as the proposed upgrade to Ballarat’s stadium.

There will also be 1,300 new “social and affordable” homes built across regional Victoria, he said.

“We will deliver the housing, the sporting infrastructure, the tourism and the major events sport, permanent infrastructure as well as programs that will see more and more people visit our regions, creating jobs and opportunities for the future,” he said.

The Victorian opposition leader, John Pesutto, called the cancellation a “massive humiliation” for the state while the Greens have branded it as “a bit of a shemozzle”.

In a statement, Pesutto said: “This decision is a betrayal of regional Victoria and confirms that Victoria is broke and Labor simply cannot manage major projects without huge cost blowouts.”

“The cancellation of the Commonwealth Games is hugely damaging to Victoria’s reputation as a global events leader,” he said.

The Victorian Greens accused the Labor government of mismanagement.

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“The Victorian Labor government has wasted too much time and money on these games, when it could have instead been investing in solutions to the housing crisis, like a big build of public and affordable housing,” said the acting party leader, Ellen Sandell.

Asked if the government looked at the cost of move it to Melbourne, Andrews said it would have been more than $4bn.

The mayor of Perth, Basil Zempilas, has posted on Twitter suggesting he would happily host it, despite Western Australia withdrawing a previous bid because of the cost.

“Here’s how it should work – we tell the [Commonwealth Games] how much we will pay. We tell them ‘here are our venues, you make your games fit around what we have’,” Zempilas said.

“Perth is in the driver’s seat they need us.”

The Tasmanian premier, Jeremy Rockliff, said he will not revive the state’s bid to hold the games between Launceston and Hobart.

In May the Albanese government’s budget included more than $1bn – from its $3.4bn commitment – for the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games. But nothing was allocated for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

On Tuesday Andrews said federal funding had “absolutely nothing” to do with the cancellation.

“Our ask was 50-50, but not 50-50 at any price, and not 50-50 at $6bn or $7bn. I wouldn’t even have asked that question because I know the answer would be.”

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told reporters in Muswellbrook that the decision was “made by the Victorian government” and he would leave details to them.

Asked if the decision was an embarrassment, Albanese noted Australia’s “fine record of hosting events”, citing the upcoming women’s football World Cup and the 2032 Olympics.

In June the federal sports minister, Anika Wells, told Guardian’s Australian Politics podcast that the Albanese government was “still working through with the Victorian government their proposal for federal support”.

Wells noted that Brisbane had won the Olympics 11 years out and the International Olympic Committee had required “hugely detailed” bid documents “whereas the Victorian bid for the Gommonwealth Games we only won in April last year, and there was less detail required of a successful bid”.

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