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Federal cash for Gold Coast Games lifeline ‘unlikely’

Gold Coast wants to save 2026 Commonwealth Games

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

The Queensland city’s mayor Tom Tate has launched a late bid for the 2026 Games after Victoria pulled out of hosting the global sports event.

It was contingent on federal funding, given Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ruled out her state coming to the Games’ rescue.

But federal cabinet minister Jason Clare has poured cold water on the move, saying the government was focused on investing in the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

“I just think that this is unlikely given the focus and the investment that we are making in Brisbane in the lead up to 2032,” he told Seven’s Sunrise on Friday.

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 Games but no premiers or chief ministers are interested.

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

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

“You don’t make a decision like this in a day or a week,” he said.

“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.”

Opposition Leader John Pesutto said it was clear the government had lied after The Age reported Games bureaucrats handed a detailed business case to treasury before the state budget requesting $5 billion to offset rising costs.

“They went to the May budget knowing that the $2.6 billion figure that they’d had in the previous year’s budget … was wrong,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

“They did nothing to correct it.”

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 per cent from Labor (53 per cent) to the Coalition (47 per cent) since late-May.

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

Settlement talks between state government officials and the Commonwealth Games Federation in London will resume on Friday.

Mr Andrews said discussions were going well and proceeding in good faith despite Games leaders being left scrambling 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.

– AAP

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