The controversy surrounding Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games continues to grow as Andrews now faces the prospect of a federal inquiry over the botched plans.
A Senate committee investigating Australia’s readiness to host the Commonwealth and Paralympic Games have agreed to reopen public submission following Andrew’s decision to rip up the contract for the major sporting event last week.
Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie is pressuring the committee to call on Andrews and Commonwealth Games delivery minister, Jacinta Allen, to set the record straight regarding Andrews’ claim that the estimated cost of staging the event would be $7 billion.
Confirmed: Senate Committee investigating Comm Games agrees to reopen public submissions.
The cancellation by the Vic Govt has far reaching implications not just for Victorian communities, businesses and sporting groups, but also for our international reputation. pic.twitter.com/o1rwC4xRVU
— Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie (@senbmckenzie) July 25, 2023
“We know that there are now a lot of people that have a unique perspective on what went wrong, where and why,” McKenzie told Sky News.
“When was this decision taken? What are the financial implications? They are the sorts of questions we need to be asking as a senate inquiry on behalf of federal taxpayers.
“The sovereign risk of this decision by Daniel Andrews has wide ranging implications far beyond the Commonwealth Games.”
When asked whether Andrews would accept the invitation to appear before the inquiry, the Premier said he wouldn’t be “dealing with completely hypothetical matters”.
“I haven’t received an invitation .. there’s a negotiation going on, and we’ll appropriately respect that,” he told The Guardian.
While no announcement has been made regarding how much the Games’ cancelled contract will cost Victorian taxpayers, according to independent legal experts from the Liberal Party’s Victorian division taxpayers could pay as much as $2 billion for the terminated contract.
Much like McKenzie, Opposition Leader John Pesutto has argued that Andrews’ and Allan’s decision to not speak out about the cancellation of the Games reinforces “the need for an urgent inquiry into the scandal”.
“It shouldn’t come as any surprise to Victorians that Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan will do anything to avoid scrutiny for the scandal including gagging Commonwealth Games officials,” Pesutto said.
“Cover ups and secrecy are hallmarks of this Government. Not only does it refuse to answer any questions about the scandal but this week the Minister for Commonwealth Games Delivery Jacinta Allan quietly resigned from her portfolio in another attempt to avoid scrutiny over coming months.
“What the Deputy Premier should do is also resign as Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop as she is guilty of gross incompetence and deceit,” he continued.
“Under her watch, the Andrews Government continues to squander billions of dollars on major projects such as the Commonwealth Games.
“This has real life consequences for hardworking Victorian families and businesses in the form of record debt and taxes at a time when they are facing unprecedented cost of living pressures.”
Andrews has also faced backlash from the Australian sporting community who have called his decision to cancel the 2026 Games “beyond disappointing” and a “let down for athletes”.
During his initial announcement regarding the Games, Andrews argued that the sporting event “does not represent value for money, that is all cost and no benefit”.
“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year,” he said.