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Callum Godde and Cassandra Morgan

Comm Games promo $600k price tag money 'well spent'

A promotional campaign for the Commonwealth Games cost almost $590,000, an inquiry was told. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Victoria's government-owned tourism agency has defended pumping almost $600,000 into a 2026 Commonwealth Games promotion and denied the event's cancellation is a reputational setback.

The Games were suddenly canned in July over cost concerns, with the decision sparking fears Victoria would suffer long-term reputational damage.

But Visit Victoria chief executive Brendan McClements insists it has not generated any issues in its discussions with major event rights holders.

Brendan McClements
Visit Victoria boss Brendan McClements says dumping the Commonwealth Games hasn't hurt Victoria.

"Having had extensive conversations since July the 18th, my professional advice is, no, it hasn't," he told a parliamentary inquiry into the Games bid on Friday.

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips said the axing had jeopardised Melbourne and Victoria's standing as a sports capital, while former Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates called it a terrible embarrassment for Australian sport.

Liberal MP and committee member David Davis put their statements to Mr McClements but he stood firm.

"If anything, it's actually increased the interest in people coming to Melbourne and Victoria," Mr McClements said.

The idea of Victoria looking into hosting the 2026 Games was conceived by the agency in March 2021.

An ill-fated original business case submitted to the Victorian government in January 2022 initially put the cost of hosting the event across regional hubs between $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

But the estimated cost was revised to between $6 billion to $7 billion and used by then-premier Daniel Andrews to justify cancelling the Games on July 18.

A file photo of the Commonwealth Games logo
The Commonwealth Games were suddenly cancelled by the Victorian government in July over costs.

Documents submitted to the inquiry show Visit Victoria spent $1.9 million of its $26 million marketing budget.

The agency's A Games Like No Other promotional campaign, featuring a video broadcast at the 2022 Birmingham Games closing ceremony, cost almost $590,000 to develop.

Mr McClements suggested it represented a very good investment, drumming up knowledge of the experiences regional Victoria has to offer.

Visit Victoria also paid polling outfit YouGov $14,000 to research the popularity of the sport Kabaddi in India, and a contractor was hired to analyse social media coverage after the event was dumped at a cost of $6575.

Victorian taxpayers footed a $41,032 bill to fly Mr McClements to Birmingham and London across three trips, which he said were "warranted".

Outgoing Department of Treasury and Finance secretary David Martine was grilled on the rigour and methodology of the original business case, which was pulled together by consultancy firm EY.

Mr Andrews previously described the business case as "hardly the greatest piece of work" and Mr Martine conceded it did not involve detailed work.

"The costings of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (were) used as the start point and then adjusted for inflation over time and other cost pressures," he said.

Victoria had racked up $175 million in sunk costs for the event to the end of August, on top of the $380 million the government agreed to pay Games bodies to terminate its contract.

In further evidence, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) confirmed it told Development Victoria on June 30 that a former Ballarat saleyards site slated as an athletes village was unsuitable for long-term habitation.

"We were concerned about odour and noise risks from the surrounding industrial areas," EPA chief executive Lee Miezis told the inquiry.

The inquiry will resume public hearings on October 23.

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