Disappointment and 'disingenuous' claims as Mildura misses Games podium
Mildura's exclusion from Tuesday's confirmation Victoria had succeeded in securing the 2026 Commonwealth Games - the first to be based in regions, not a city - has generated sparks between local MPs.
Federal member for Mallee, Anne Webster told Flow on Wednesday in response to the Andrews Labor government preferring Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland and Geelong as the host regions:
“Are we surprised? I don’t think so.”
“The Premier has proven that unless its COVID restrictions, he actually doesn’t know that Mildura exists or that Mallee exists, for that matter.”
“It’s another disappointment, that, even though we have an independent representing us that that voice is actually not heard and the power is with the Labor government which is Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong-centric – that little halo.”
“He doesn’t quite understand that even Mildura, with our incredible sporting precinct now, that its 45 minutes away from Melbourne by plane.”
The independent referred to by Dr Webster, state MP Ali Cupper, responded to the Nationals MP's criticism:
"To suggest that independents are irrelevant or its another example of independents not being able to pull of the win, that's completely disingenuous and Anne would know that.
Hear Ali Cupper's comments on the Commonwealth Games snub of Mildura and the Victorian Liberal-Nationals' Friday announcement they would, if elected, they would spend $750 million on a new Mildura hospital, on the Flow podcast player below:
After wresting the seat from Nationals control for the first time four years ago, Ms Cupper also expressed her dismay about Mildura being overlooked as a host region, telling Flow on Wednesday:
“Our hopes were dashed yesterday at least in relation to hosting the event, one of the positives I have as an independent is that I can have fairly good access to decision makers.
“I was able to give (Victorian Sports Minister) Martin Pakula a call and he took my call and I made my feelings very clear, he accepted what I had to say and said there are going to be other opportunities during the games.”
“I made it clear to him that I want those things to be meaningful.
“I was so sad yesterday morning when I heard the news, I feel like the mood has been so buoyant here at the top end of the Mallee lately in relation to sport.”
“We have a beautiful new sporting precinct and I think that when we started hearing about this regional Commonwealth Games bid, being very proud of our new facility thought gosh, we’re a shoe-in, isn’t it great we’ve put all this capital into a brand new sporting precinct, because that means we can be in with a shot when these big events come to Victoria.”