Games inquiry finds government rushed costs consideration

May 10, 2024 BY

Geelong's GMHBA Stadium was to host the closing ceremony for the 2026 Commonwealth Games before the event's shock cancellation in July last year. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Victorian government rushed its decision to host the Commonwealth Games and did not allow time for an appropriate consideration of the costs involved, an inquiry into the event’s cancellation has found.

In an interim report handed down last week, the committee made 23 initial findings, noting the negotiation period between the Victorian government and the Commonwealth Games Federation was “too short” and did not allow the government to conduct “due diligence”, factors which contributed to the significant underestimation in the costs required to host the Games.

“The original costings were based on a business case produced by consultants commissioned by the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions,” committee chair South-Eastern Metropolitan MP David Limbrick said.

“The committee found the department put limitations on the consultations including an unreasonably short timeframe and strict confidentiality conditions.

“As a result, there was little time to verify costings and an inability to consult with key stakeholders.

He suggested that had the government taken the time to produce a “more considered business case”, it may not have gone ahead with the decision to host the sporting event.

Geelong and four other cities across regional Victoria were confirmed as hosts of the Commonwealth Games in April 2022, but the contract was terminated in July last year after costing forecasts blew out from an initial $2.6 billion to almost $7 billion.

In March, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office revealed the cancellation had cost the state almost $600 million.

Mr Limbrick said the inquiry had struggled to extract all the information it needed to develop a full understanding of the state government’s decision-making process, and accused government of deliberately hampering the inquiry with its claim of executive privilege.

Former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is among several MPs and parliamentary advisors who refused to provide evidence to the inquiry.

“The government has not provided the committee with much of the information it has requested and summonsed,” Mr Limbrick said.

“In declining to provide this information, it has cited a self-defined classification of executive privilege that is so broad it has covered all but a few of the documents the committee has asked for.

“The government is accountable to the parliament and through the parliament to the people of Victoria. It should not set the conditions by which it is held to account.”

The inquiry’s final report is expected to be delivered in April next year.

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