Victorian Government faces lawsuit, legal action in nuclear CGP response

Victorian taxpayers may be forced to cough up tens of millions of dollars as the Commonwealth Games Federation considers a nuclear response to the shock decision to abandon the 2026 Victorian Games.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was on Tuesday whacked from all corners of the Australian sporting landscape after declaring the costs of hosting the 2026 Games in regional Victoria had blown out to as much as $7 billion. The original estimates were $2.6 billion.

Commonwealth Games Australia Executive Officer Craig Phillips on Tuesday made several damning claims against the Andrews Government, suggesting government officials:

— “Exaggerated” costs in its revised estimates

— Had been consulted about potential interest in hosting the event long before the government announced its decision to secure the hosting rights in February, 2022

— Had ignored advice to save costs by hosting more events in Melbourne, and

— Had failed to give Commonwealth Games officials a chance to respond to the revised numbers before making its bombshell decision.

The decision has now taken a dramatic turn with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) now considering legal action against the state.

The Australian first reported the CGF’s potential demand for the state to pay damages and costs already incurred could be worth up to tens of millions.

The Times in London also reports CGF’s legal team is examining the contractual arrangements that have been in place since the deal was signed for Victoria to host the 2026 event in the hope of reaching a financial settlement.

CGF chief executive Katie Sadleir said she had been left blindsided by the sudden decision by Victorian government officials.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews making the announcement. AAP Image/James Ross.Source: AAP

“To find out with eight hours notice a decision made like this with no ability for the board, no opportunity or debate or ability to look at options, it is very difficult to express in words,’’ she told The Australian.

“We are in shock, it is incredibly disappointing … there has not been a lot of time to get our heads lined up about the implications, but it is really disappointing for aspiring athletes and our organising teams, they were well advanced in planning and preparation.’’

She said the Andrews Government had been repeatedly warned about the costs of its unique model of hosting the Games in four regional hubs — but said government officials repeatedly said they were prepared to manage the costs.

She told The Times: “When Victoria came to us, and it’s important to stress that they came to us, they said they saw an opportunity to employ a dispersed model, using multiple cities across the state, to drive economic growth in their region.

“As prices started to go up, we questioned whether or not they were making the right decisions as part of their unique regional development model. And they assured us that they had the money they needed. So to hear yesterday that it’s not the case, that the government has decided it was too expensive, was a surprise.”

The Games aren’t returning to Melbourne. Photo by William WEST / AFP.Source: AFP

She declared the 2026 Games are certain to go ahead and stressed several cities have already expressed an interest in hosting the event on short notice.

London and a multi-city Scottish bid are two bids that have received public support.

Christchurch, in New Zealand, has also shown interest.

The Victorian opposition leader, John Pesutto, called the cancellation a “massive humiliation”.

“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,” Pesutto said.

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

Meanwhile, further details have emerged about the disastrous Victorian regional town proposal with sporting officials declaring surprise that Victorian government officials could have “got it so wrong”

It was confirmed in April, 2022, that Victoria had won the rights to host the event, with Andrews declaring the event “will be the Regional Victoria games”.

Planning documents showed the intentions were to establish hubs in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland, each with an athlete’s village.

Shepparton was also planned to host events, and the MCG would have hosted the opening ceremony.

Australian Olympics supremo John Coates said he had always been sceptical of the idea of setting up four different event sites.

“This is a terrible embarrassment to Australian sport,” the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president told The Australian.

“We shouldn’t be bidding for events unless we know that we have the necessary commitments and support of the various governments – and unless the business case stacks up, clearly though from what Daniel Andrews is telling us now, it didn’t – and it didn’t support [the business case].

The closing ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.Source: News Corp Australia

“I think the other thing is and we’re seeing now the individual sport model goes pretty well because it’s over a longer period. The Matildas are playing for an extended period with 32 teams involved in the World Cup. The rugby World Cup in 2027 – I believe they will be a great successes. And you have to wonder then, what is the future for the Commonwealth Games?”

Phillips was also scathing of the way the Government conducted its business.

The staggering cost blow out would have been off the charts and would have shattered the record for the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever staged.

The event was held in Melbourne in 2006 with total costs of $1.1 billion.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham were also delivered at the cost of £778 million ($1.5b).

The 2018 Games on the Gold Coast was also widely praised for delivering significant economic impact to south-east Queensland at a total cost of $1.8 billion.

The insane estimates would also match the $7.1 billion in funding going towards the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

The most expensive Commonwealth Games ever staged were in Delhi in 2010 at an estimated cost of US$4.1 billion.

The huge expenditure was at the time expected to create thousands of jobs, including 600 before the start date, 3900 during the games, and 3000 beyond the closing ceremony.

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto was scathing of the botched event planning.

“The Andrews government’s decision to scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games is a massive humiliation for Victoria,” Mr Pesutto posted on Twitter.

“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.”

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