Shock Commonwealth Games cancellation, billions redirected to housing
The Victorian Government has left the future of the Commonwealth Games in doubt by pulling out of hosting the 2026 Games and redirecting money to regional housing and infrastructure.
In shock announcement, the Victorian Government has pulled out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games, choosing to instead spend the money on infrastructure and housing.
Initial estimates had put the cost of hosting the Games at $2.6 billion but a blowout to closer to $7 million prompted the Dan Andrews Government to cancel its contract to stage the major international sports event that had been due to take place in across regional Victoria.
The Premier said it would now commit to spending $1 billion on regional social housing.
At least 1,300 social and affordable housing properties would be built in regional communities across the state, beyond the four hubs that were to be used for the event.
The Games had been expected to present Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton to a global audience of hundreds of millions.
“I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions, in this job - this is not one of them,” Mr Andrews said.
“Frankly, six to $7 billion for a 12-day sporting event - we are not doing that; that does not represent value for money.
“That is all cost and no benefit,” he said.
Minister for Commonwealth Games Delivery Jacinta Allan, whose position will now be subject to scrutiny, said there would still be a sporting legacy, with facilities still to be upgraded but with housing at the centre of the decision.
“We know how hard it is to find affordable housing in so many parts of regional Victoria – that’s why we’ll deliver more than 1,300 new homes with a $1 billion Regional Housing Fund.”
“Every one of the permanent new and upgraded sporting infrastructure projects planned as part of the Games will still proceed – and all will be completed as planned.
Mr Andrews added that instead of building temporary features for the Games competitions, they would construct the final form of these projects, “meaning locals will get access to new and upgraded venues sooner than waiting for the Games to be completed.”
The 2026 Games are now in grave jeopardy, with all other Australian states on Tuesday (18 July) ruling themselves out of contention to take over the hosting rights.
Housing projects for regional Victoria
The event featuring 20 sports and 26 disciplines would’ve included athletes’ villages at all five venues.
Mr Andrews said his team had looked at cutting the number of hubs or even moving the Games to Melbourne, but “none of those options stack up.”
Instead, he announced a $2 billion support package for regional Victoria. Local councils will not be expected to financially contribute to the package.
The $1 billion Regional Housing Fund will deliver new homes that include a mix of social and affordable housing tailored to the needs of each region.
Council to Homeless Persons CEO Deborah Di Natale welcomed the social housing commitment.
‘With the Games no longer going ahead, it was absolutely critical a commitment to build regional social housing remained on the table.
“Regional rents have gone through the roof while vacancy rates have remained very low. That's a perfect storm pushing more people into homelessness.
“This is a statewide crisis so it's really important to see the new social housing commitment extend beyond the four regional hubs that would have hosted the Games,” Ms Di Natale said.
Regions still receiving infrastructure boost
In terms of sporting and other infrastructure, the five regions anticipate they will still benefit from the original Games commitment.
The historically sensitive upgrade of Ballarat’s train station will be delivered, with passenger lifts on both platforms and a connecting pedestrian overpass. A new athletics track will be built at the Eureka Stadium and it will be expanded to hold an additional 5,000 permanent seats, with improved accessibility access.
The loss of the Games’ mountain biking event has not derailed the 60 kilometres of mountain bike trails to be built in and around the Regional Park, State Forest and plantation lands of Creswick, while a new community sporting facility at Miners Rest and the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre will get upgrades to the show court and accessibility works.
Geelong receives new indoor sporting complex at Waurn Ponds – a multipurpose sports centre with six courts, regional-level gymnastics and dance studio and car parking. In Armstrong Creek a new aquatics centre with a civic plaza will be built. Banyul-Warri Fields in Torquay will get a new training pitch and permanent seating and Stead Park – the home of Geelong Hockey – will see upgrades to their pavilion, a new pitch and new seating.
Gippsland will benefit from refurbishing of the facilities at the Regional Indoor Sports Stadium in Traralgon and the Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe – modernising the facilities as well as accessibility upgrades, while the Morwell Gun Club and Gippsland Sports and Entertainment Park pitches and pavilions will be upgraded.
Shepparton receives upgrades to its BMX facilities and Bendigo to its stadium and bowls facilities.