A Senate inquiry has said the Federal Government should step in to salvage the cancelled Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

The Australian Government should step in to ensure that the cancelled Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games go ahead, according to an interim report from a Senate inquiry.

The Senate Committee, chaired by Matt Canavan, made four recommendations relating to the Victorian Government's decision earlier this year - announced by their Premier Daniel Andrews - to scrap its plan to host the Games, Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

Canavan added that  the voters of the state had been "played for mugs" by their Premier.

The interim report recommended that by the end of this year, the Federal Government should set up a forum made up of all three levels of Government.

This, it said, would "examine options to salvage the Commonwealth Games", which may need to include them being reduced or de-centralised.

Canavan said the Committee was making a "simple request" of the Federal Government to "get its hands dirty" to save the event.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has "played Victorians for mugs" according to Matt Canavan, chair of a Senate inquiry ©Getty Images

"There is no doubt in my mind Daniel Andrews and his Government used the people of regional Victoria for his base political purpose in an election campaign," Canavan said.

"He made the promise just before an election to get their support, and just after he dumped them on the side of the road like a trash can.

"It's no way to treat your own people.

"I just wish the Victorian Government show a bit more diligence in the future."

The report said cancelling the Games could call into question Victoria's "enviable reputation as a world-class destination for major sporting events".

The Victorian Government announced in April 2022 that regional areas would host the Games as the state emerged from the pandemic.

Victoria Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan has dismissed the inquiry as a
Victoria Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan has dismissed the inquiry as a "political stunt" ©Getty Images

But in July this year Andrews announced that the 2026 Commonwealth Games would be scrapped due to spiralling costs which he said went beyond initial estimates, citing a figure in excess of AUD$6 billion (£3 billion/$3.8 billion/€3.6 billion).

The Committee criticised the Victorian Government's refusal to engage with the inquiry in the report and accused it of "actively working to hinder the engagement of other witnesses".

Andrews refused to attend the inquiry and Victoria Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan has dismissed it as a "political stunt".

In recent weeks, it has been reported that the cost of the decision to cancel the Games was AUD$380 million (£196 million/$244 million/€228 million) - a settlement figure the Victorian Government reached after negotiating with Commonwealth Games bodies.

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Michael Phillips has said that cancelling the Games in Victoria could delay that edition of the Games by up to a year, and that difficulties securing a new host city could mean a fresh plan for the Games may not be announced until early next year.

The Federal Senate inquiry into the cancellation of the Games held sittings in numerous locations, including Melbourne and Bendigo, at the end of August.

Among the revelations that emerged during the hearings was that local councils in cities set to co-host the 2026 Games, including Ballarat, said they were not being listened to by the State Government.

The report noted  that cancelling the Games would have a "significant socio-economic and cultural impact", particularly on the regional areas that would have benefited from hosting the event.

"As rural and regional communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and manage challenges including affordable housing and cost of living concerns, the awarding of the Games was an opportunity for these communities to plan for, and look forward to, a future sporting and business event," it reads.

"This opportunity has been summarily taken away the same way it came about - with no consultation and no certainty."