The Victorian 2026 Commonwealth Games has been cancelled due to funding issues.
Fronting the media this morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that the Government would no longer support the games because “it was clear the cost of the games would exceed $6 billion.”
Victoria’s net debt of $116.7 billion for this financial year is more than the combined net debt of New South Wales ($78.4 billion), Queensland ($14.5 billion), South Australia ($19 billion) and Tasmania ($2.994 billion).
Western Australia’s net debt has fallen by $ 16 billion to $ 27.9 billion during the past six years, as surging iron ore royalties helped pay for the Covid disruption.
‘What’s become clear,” Premier Andrews said at the media conference, “is the cost of hosting these games is not the 2.6 billion; it is at least $6 billion or $7 billion.”
‘I will not take money out of hospitals and schools to fund an event three times the cost as estimated and budgeted for last year.’
The rights to host the 2026 event were awarded to regional Victoria last year after Birmingham replaced South Africa’s Durban as host of the 2022 games.
The Commonwealth Games has never been cancelled, except in World War Two.
It is still being determined how much to break the contract will cost.
The Commonwealth Games were set to be held from March 17 to 29 in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton.
The promotional material said: ‘Victoria 2026 will showcase what makes the people of our state tick: our unity, our diversity, our sense of community, our welcoming attitude and our love of sport.’
The industry had pushed for a ‘once-in-a-generation’ timber opportunity
Last month, Victorian Forest Products Association CEO Deb Kerr challenged the Government to embrace timber in constructing the Games infrastructure and building accommodations.
“There is no need to reinvent the wheel – there are best-practice examples everywhere,” Ms Kerr said in an exclusive opinion article for Wood Central.
Ms Kerr pointed to Brisbane, which last month announced that it would be using Mass Timber as its preferred material for the games Athletes Village.
“In other words, the Olympics will positively impact the climate. Using timber in construction plays a vital part here.”
“Such ‘solutions’ are far from long-term thinking,” Kerr said.
“After the games, prefabricated housing could be repurposed in regional areas most in need, including disaster relief and social housing, tourism (e.g., caravan parks), farm stays, or accommodation for seasonal and farm workers.”
Earlier this month, Victoria was allocated $498 million by the Federal Government to address the fall in social and affordable housing, with Wood Central reporting that timber-based framing plays an important role in correcting the shortage of housing supply.
The Herald Sun reports that Commonwealth Games staff were called in for an urgent meeting early on Tuesday following an emergency meeting of the Government’s Expenditure Review Committee – senior ministers who discuss budget decisions – on Monday.
The full proposal was taken to the Cabinet late last night.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas had been seeking a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution from the Federal Government.
Mr Andrews has attempted to combat Victoria’s rising debts by hiking taxes for businesses, property owners and private schools to pay off the $ 31.5 billion in Covid debt it racked up during the pandemic.
The Government pledged $875 million to support workers connected to native forestry
In May 2023, Mr Andrews announced that harvesting in Victoria’s native forests would cease by 2024.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas unveiled a $200 million transition package for the industry as part of the 2023/24 Victorian Budget.
The latest package brings the forestry transition support to more than $875 million, including worker support services and investments to smooth the transition to plantation timber.
However, the industry has argued that more than the transition package is needed to cover the full scale of workers and communities connected to the sector.
Last week, Wood Central revealed that the Government ignored the science and accelerated the closure based on a youth round table suggestion.
In response, Deb Kerr from the Victorian Forest Products Association said that announcement provides an opportunity to invest in local infrastructure.
“When announcing that Victoria will not be hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games, the Andrews government committed to still building some of the regional sporting infrastructure and 1300 new social and community homes,” Ms Kerr said.
“After today’s Federal government announcement of sector-by-sector decarbonisation plans, this seems a perfect opportunity for Victoria to lead the way by using timber in the construction of sporting facilities and homes.”
Kerr said, “the use of concrete and steel in the built environment is one of the biggest emitters of carbon.”
“Using natural material such as timber, we can decarbonise these new sporting facilities and make them aesthetically pleasing to competitors and supporters.”
Wood Central has approached the Premier’s office for comment.