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Matters of Public Importance: Victorian Commonwealth Games

As a Geelong-based Victorian senator, I am absolutely appalled by Premier Andrews’s decision in concert with the Albanese government. We have brought this matter of public importance to the Senate to call on this government to take a stand for Victorian regional communities. What we have seen so far from this government is spineless, is callous and is demonstrating no care or regard for regional communities—Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, Shepparton. It has treated regional Victoria with absolute contempt. It is a shocking indictment on the spinelessness of this pathetic Albanese government that it will not stand up to this deceptive, callous Victorian premier and say, ‘This is not good enough.’ It’s not good enough.

Acting Deputy President Walsh, you just made a contribution. You’ve said you don’t think this is going to hurt our international reputation. I have to say to you: have you not been watching what’s been going on? Have you not read the papers?

I am appalled at the suggestion in this chamber in this debate that this decision has not reflected on our international reputation. We are an international laughingstock as a result of the decision of the Victorian premier, and this Albanese government did nothing. The member for Corio, the member for Corangamite, the member for Bendigo and the member for Ballarat did absolutely nothing to stand up for their communities as our reputations were trashed across the world. For the people of regional Victoria, the games were a critical opportunity of a lifetime, not just to see their local heroes compete but to grow their businesses, to take advantage of the significant economic boost in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland and Shepparton. Those plans, those hopes, those dreams have been trashed.

The coalition has always recognised how important sport is to our nation. We work so hard as a government to secure so many important events—the FIFA Women’s World Cup is on right now—the 2032 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the 27th Netball World Cup. Daniel Andrews’s decision to abandon the 2026 Commonwealth Games is an insult to Australian athletes, an insult to regional Victoria and an insult to the Australian people. Working hand in glove with Premier Andrews, Prime Minister Albanese and this city-centric government have broken our hearts.

Premier Andrews is walking all over the top of the members opposite and this government. He is laughing. He could not care less. And this spineless government just stands by and fails to stand up for regional Victoria, fails to stand up for our country. This is appalling. We saw it again in action just a few days ago. The Victorian government, this tyrannical government as it’s turning out to be, banned gas from 2024 for new builds, and what do senators and members in the other place do? What does the government do? It does nothing. I cannot believe that gas is going to be banned for new connections, and this spineless government does nothing to stand up for Victoria. We don’t believe a word Premier Andrews says. Look at what he did with the East West Link: he cancelled that contract, and that cost Victorians more than $1 billion. We will get to the bottom of this through our Senate inquiry. We will get to the bottom of this deceptive, callous, devious state Labor government, aided and abetted by this unprincipled and spineless Albanese government. We’ve had enough of being trodden on. We’ve had enough. We are not going to tolerate it. And shame on the member for Corio, the Deputy Prime Minister and the members for Corangamite, Bendigo and Ballarat who did nothing to stand up for us.

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