New figures about how much money the Victoria Government spent on preparations for the 2026 Commonwealth Games it subsequently pulled out have been published ©Getty Images

New costs spent on Victoria’s aborted hosting of the 2026 Commonwealth Games have emerged, including a revelation that the State Government spent nearly 20 times what it had budgeted for consulting fees on one project.

It was revealed today in documents tendered as part of a submission to an inquiry into the cancellation of the Games that approximately AUD$21.6 million (£11.2 million/$13.7 million/€13.1 million) was paid on consulting fees associated with the Athletes Village.

That is, despite Development Victoria having an allocated budget of just AUD$1.02 million (£531,000/$646,000/€614,000) for consultations.

Civil engineering designs were the costliest portion of the fees at AUD$5.8 million (£3 million/$3.7 million/€3.5 million) followed by cultural heritage management at AUD$1.9 million (£989,000/$1.2 million/€1.1 million) and architectural services at AUD$2 million (£1 million/$1.3 million/€1.2 million).

There was also AUD$1.2 million (£625,000/$760,000/€723,000) spent on a commercial adviser and AUD$567,000 (£295,000/$359,000/€341,000) on town planning.

Under plans presented for Victoria 2026, there were supposed to be five regional hubs hosting events in 20 sports due to be part of the Games programme. 

Four Athletes’ Villages were set to house the athletes during their time at the Games. 

Victoria’s new Premier Jacinta Allan, who replaced Daniel Andrews after he quit following his decision to pull out of hosting the Commonwealth Games, is facing calls from Opposition Leader John Pesutto to reveal the figure taxpayers have had to pay for the cancelled event.

Pesutto claimed the $21 million (£10.9 million/$13.3 million/€12.6 million) was "torched" by Labor and urged Allan, the former deputy to Andrews and the Minister responsible for delivering the Commonwealth Games, to "come clean" with Victorians about the true cost.

More than AUD$21 was spent on consultancy fees planning the Commonwealth Games Village - 20 times more than budgeted ©Victoria 2026
More than AUD$21 was spent on consultancy fees planning the Commonwealth Games Village - 20 times more than budgeted ©Victoria 2026

The documents also revealed that $19.1 million (£9.9 million/$12.1 million/€11.5 million) was spent on delivering major competition venues in Geelong and Ballarat, which are still planned to go ahead.

The new documents also showed that lawyers Arnold Bloch Leibler were hired to cancel the Commonwealth Games and were taken on three weeks before the public was told, leaving taxpayers with a legal bill of AUD$1.27 million (£661,000/$805,000/€765,000)

Victoria's top public servant, Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Jeremi Moule, travelled to London to inform Commonwealth Games Federations (CGF) officials of the withdrawal three days before the cancellation was announced - and two days before State Cabinet officially signed off on the decision.

In the end, the lawyers helped Victoria negotiate an AUD$380 million (£197 million/$241 million/€229 million) settlement with the CGF for breaking the Host City contract it had signed last year.

Moule was away for a week at a total cost of AUD$22,115 (£11,521$14,019/€13,321), including almost AUD$15,000 (£7,800/$9,500/€9,000) in airfares and AUD$6,200 (£3,325/$3,930/€3,730) in accommodation.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet also engaged barrister Frances Gordon for 17 days in August for legal services to get out of the contract to host the Games for an additional AUD$19,745 (£10,300/$12,500/€11,900).

The Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions revealed it spent AUD$43.55 million (£22.68 million/$27.60 million/€26.23 million) supporting the Victoria 2026 Organising Committee, on top of marketing, programme and venue planning.

The Department paid out almost $550,000 (£286,520/$348,600/€331,330) to three employees in termination payments.

It has also been revealed today that Allan told a Parliamentary Committee how well work was progressing on Victoria 2026 on June 13 - a day before the lawyers were hired to arrange its cancellation.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk to you today about the tremendous progress that we are making to support Victoria, and indeed regional Victoria, to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games," she had told the Committee.

"On March 17, 2026, there will be 7000 athletes and officials from around 70 nations coming to regional Victoria to mark the 23rd Commonwealth Games.

“We can do this. We know we can do this ... There is huge energy, excitement and effort."

New Victoria Premier Jacinta Allan, who was in charge of the Commonwealth Games before succeeding Daniel Andrews, is under fire over the new revelations ©Getty Images
New Victoria Premier Jacinta Allan, who was in charge of the Commonwealth Games before succeeding Daniel Andrews, is under fire over the new revelations ©Getty Images

Allan tried to shrug off the revelation when asked how she could not have been unaware that a process was about to be started to cancel Victoria staging the Games.

“I stand by everything I said at that time because there have been no decisions or discussions about other alternatives," she said.

“We are focused on delivering for Victorians, doing the hard work for Victorians right now, not engaging in those political activities that others want to in the Legislative Council."

Hearings for the Upper House inquiry is due to begin next week, with the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions, the Office of the Commonwealth Games, Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the Victoria 2026 Government-appointed committee appearing.

A Senate inquiry and the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office are also scrutinising the cancellation.

A separate bipartisan Parliamentary Committee has called on the State Government to release more details of the $6 billion (£3.1 billion/$3.8 billion/€3.6 billion) to $7 billion (£3.6 billion/$4.4 billion/€4.2 billion) figure used to justify cancelling the Games.

The figure has been largely ridiculed by the CGF and Commonwealth Games Australia.

In its report into the 2023-2024 budget estimates process, the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee claimed the difference between the $2.6 billion (£1.3 billion/$1.6 billion/€1.5 billion) initial cost and the final estimate was so large that it should be made a matter of public record how both figures were drafted.

"In the interest of further transparency regarding the cancellation of the Games, the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions should also consider publishing information regarding how the revised forecast was estimated," the report said.