Panel with Monique Wright and Clare O'Neil, Sunrise
19 July 2023
MONIQUE WRIGHT: Let's bring in Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil now and Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Morning to you both. Okay, let's get the timeline straight on this, Clare. We understand that the Commonwealth Games Authority was only given about eight hours notice. What about the Federal Government?
CLARE O'NEIL: Can I just say before we get into the gory details of this just how devastated I am for all those athletes that are going to miss out on the Commonwealth Games. We've got you know swimmers and runners that we're so proud of here in Australia and I know a lot of them will have been training for years to build up for the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics beyond and you know, I know Australians will feel the same just devastated for them. I've just with regard to the decision, you know, it's a Victorian State Government decision. I think Daniel Andrews said yesterday that he'd seen really significant cost blowouts and just with what's going on in the economy in Victoria with the cost of living crisis, he didn't feel he could justify that expenditure. So it's a decision for the state government is disappointing for everyone, but I'll let the state guys explain the timeline.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: That's fine, but from a federal government perspective, how much notice did you get?
CLARE O'NEIL: Look, I can't answer questions for the whole Federal Government. It's actually quite removed from my portfolio, but I didn't know about this announcement before it was announced yesterday in the news.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: It looks pretty embarrassing, no? You've got to have an opinion for the rest of the world, doesn't it, we look like a laughingstock don't we?
CLARE O'NEIL: Oh, look, I mean, I mean, again, my thoughts are really with the athletes today. We've got you know, people in communities across Australia who worked their whole lives to be in the Commonwealth Games, and I know this will be really devastating for them. So it's an absolutely massive shame. And I think Daniel Andrews has talked about the reasons behind this. It was going to be catastrophically expensive. He didn't feel he could justify that to his taxpayers. And I think we've got to respect that he's been upfront about what's going on there. But yeah, of course, it's a huge shame for Victoria.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: Alright, Clare's done some nice dancing there, Jane. Should the Victorian Government have just found a way to make this work? And should the federal government have stepped in and throw more money?
JANE HUME: Well actually Mon, Dan Andrews asked the federal government to come in and step in and provide more money and they were refused that. Let's face it. You know, this is Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Government's incompetence and inability to manage projects and incompetence and managing a budget that's led to this. Because it was only a month ago that the budget said the Commonwealth Games were going to cost 2.6 million. How can only a couple of weeks later the budget have blown out to such an extent? Somebody has made a real mess of this and it's our athletes and their families that have been training for so long that are going to pay a price, but it's also the regional communities that were promised an opportunity to showcase their wares to the world. They're going to miss out too. So I mean, let's face it, this is because Victoria is broke. We are a failed state. And it's because of the incompetence of this government in any other state, somebody would resign. Unfortunately, Dan Andrews is going to say 'not my fault, not my problem'. We're just going to have to deal with this note and set it aside. It's never Dan Andrews' fault.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: Okay. You talked about every other Australian state there, but every other Australian state has refused to buy in here and refused to host it. Do you agree with the Western Australian Premier, that the Commonwealth Games are ruinously expensive?
JANE HUME: This is something that Dan Andrews has signed up to not that long ago, was it only just over a year ago, and he did so with quite the fanfare, he said that he could manage the project. He said he could manage the budget. He's failed to do both, and it's Victorians and the athletes that are going to pay the price for that incompetence.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: Clare, how is anyone going to trust us again, or trust Victoria to be able to host big world events like this?
CLARE O'NEIL: Yeah, I mean, you know, fair question one. Could I just call out, I think there's a little bit of hyperventilating going on. If we're going to wear a failed state like let's just get a grip here. That is absolutely ridiculous. We live in an amazing state here in Victoria, that is, you know, like, going great guns. That this is, Jane, this is absolutely crazy. And if the problem is that we're broke, I'm not sure how you can advocate that the Victorian Government should have spent $7 billion on something that was projected to cost $2.6 billion. So yeah, I get this as disappointing. It is an enormous shame for those athletes and those are the people I think we should be focused on today. But as for the you know, the politics of this and the you know, extreme language that's been used there. Can we just take a breath? They wanted to do this I don't think any government would cancel something like this without really clear justification for doing so. Daniel Andrews explained that yesterday and it's unfortunate but it is what it is.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: Okay, we're almost out of time. But Jane, quick final word from you.
JANE HUME: I would say that Clare, you've got your head in the sand. Dan Andrews has driven this state into the ground. He's disappointed athletes. He's embarrassed us on a world stage. And let's face it, he's ruined your party too.
MONIQUE WRIGHT: All right. Thank you for being with us. Jane. Clare. We appreciate it.