Bubble Bursts on Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Lifeline

Gold Coast’s bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games has been torpedoed as pressure mounts on Victoria to explain how long it kept quiet on cost concerns.

The Queensland city’s mayor Tom Tate launched a late bid, contingent on federal funding, for the Games after Victoria pulled out of hosting the event because the cost had risen to up to $7 billion.

If the Albanese government offered in-principle support, Mr. Tate said he would take four weeks to put together a presentation in a bid to woo the Queensland government into stumping up more cash.

“The reputation that Australia has … is we make a deal, and we deliver,” he told reporters on Friday.

“What (Victorian Premier) Daniel Andrews has done has put that in jeopardy.”

But federal cabinet minister Jason Clare poured cold water on the move, saying the government was already splashing the cash on the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

“I just think that this is unlikely,” he told Seven’s Sunrise.

Infrastructure remains in place from the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast, which cost $1.2 billion to host.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for an Australian solution to hosting the 2026 Games, but no premiers or chief ministers are interested.

Queensland Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said there was no change in his state’s position, arguing three years was not enough time to prepare.

“It’s an emphatic no,” he said.

Victoria dumped hosting the Games across five regional hubs over a forecast cost blowout of up to $4.4 billion, having initially budgeted $2.6 billion for the 12-day event.

Visiting a winery on the Bellarine Peninsula, Mr. Andrews bristled at suggestions the government knew for months the initial Games budget was going to blow out.

“It’s been some weeks that we’ve been finalising our position and getting the best estimates and the consolidated picture about how much this would cost,” he said.

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto accused the Andrews government of a cover-up after The Age reported Games bureaucrats had requested $5 billion to offset rising costs in a detailed business case handed to treasury before the state budget.

“It is now clear that the Andrews government lied to Victorians when they said in the May budget that the Games would cost $2.6 billion,” he said.

The opposition will push for the upper house to establish an inquiry into the saga when parliament returns next month.

Support for the Victorian government has slipped following its Games backflip, according to a Roy Morgan poll.

The SMS survey of more than 1000 Victorians on Wednesday and Thursday showed a two-party preferred swing of 8.5 percent from Labor (53 percent) to the coalition (47 percent) since late May.

Nonetheless, 58 percent of those polled backed the decision to cancel hosting the Games compared to 42 percent who were against it.

Compensation talks between state government officials and the Commonwealth Games Federation in London resumed on Friday.

Mr. Andrews said negotiations were progressing in good faith despite Games leaders having to scramble for a replacement host for the second time in six years.

The South African city of Durban was stripped of the 2022 Games in 2017 over a lack of progress in preparations, with the original 2026 host Birmingham stepping in to fill the void.

The last time a Commonwealth Games was completely cancelled was during World War II.

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