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Premier to shirk federal and state Comm Games inquiries

Daniel Andrews quit politics last month after almost nine years as Victorian premier.

Daniel Andrews quit politics last month after almost nine years as Victorian premier. Photo: AAP

Premier Daniel Andrews appears set to shirk invitations to front separate inquiries into Victoria’s cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

A federal inquiry, reopened to investigate the state government decision last month to pull out of hosting the event, will travel to Victoria within weeks to hold hearings.

Committee chair and Nationals senator Matt Canavan said on Thursday he had written to Mr Andrews and his deputy Jacinta Allan to request their appearance but the invitation had not been accepted.

“It’s a lost opportunity that premier Andrews and minister Allan are refusing to subject themselves to the scrutiny of the Senate,” committee member and Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie told reporters in Canberra.

“We can’t force them to appear – that’s why the chair wrote to him (Andrews) seeking his agreement and to facilitate him being able to be up front and honest with the Australian people.”

The premier’s office has been contacted for comment.

Ms McKenzie said the Senate committee will be calling Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin and chief executive Katie Sadleir to give evidence.

Other requested witnesses include department heads, contractors and marketing agencies, along with consultancy firms Ernst & Young and Deloitte.

Ms McKenzie said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and federal Sports Minister Anika Wells had been missing in action since Victoria reneged on hosting the event, citing a cost estimate blowout from $2.6 billion to between $6b to $7b.

“This is not the Victorian government’s reputation that’s been decimated, it is Australia’s reputation,” she said.

“And it is up to Anthony Albanese and Anika Wells to take leadership, to facilitate an Australian solution to hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.”

Simultaneously, Mr Andrews and his ministers are facing pressure to front a state-based parliamentary inquiry to be established after Labor lost an upper house vote on Wednesday.

Labor’s upper house leader Jaclyn Symes said she would not encourage Mr Andrews or Ms Allan to front the inquiry, pointing to the doctrine of exclusive cognisance in which each house of parliament cannot interfere with the other.

“This is an upper house inquiry,” she said at state parliament.

“If they (the opposition) wanted to hear from lower house members, they could’ve come to us and considered another forum.”

Fellow state government minister Danny Pearson labelled the cross-party select committee a political stunt.

“This is just all about trying to call witnesses in front of cameras and a bit of theatrics,” he said.

– AAP

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