THE cancellation of the Commonwealth Games was a “very big low” for the Latrobe Valley Badminton Association and the broader community, the association’s president, Garry Silvester, told the parliamentary inquiry into the 2026 Commonwealth Games bid, held in Traralgon last week.

Mr Silvester said the cancellation was a blow to him personally and a “missed opportunity” for the region, and he remained uncertain how Latrobe Valley Badminton would benefit from the Commonwealth Legacy planning.

He was speaking in testimony to the parliamentary committee into the Commonwealth Games Bid in Traralgon’s Century Inn last Thursday, March 14.
The Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) was to host the Games’ Badminton.

His comments came before the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, visited the GRISS on Monday to announce the scope of the state government’s reinvestment into Gippsland following the Games’ cancellation.

Though still in the planning stage, the state government has made a commitment to upgrade four major sporting facilities in the Latrobe Valley including the GRISS, Morwell’s Gippsland Sports and Entertainment Park (GSEP), Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe and the Morwell Gun Club.

Mr Silvester said the Latrobe Valley Badminton Association had hoped that hosting the Games would influence “much-needed upgrades” for their local sport, including lightning, line-marking, storage and court availability.
Now, the association’s participation is restricted as court-suitable access remains a continual barrier to the club’s numbers.

Latrobe City Council Mayor, Councillor Darren Howe, who attended the Tourism Minister’s announcement, said the Latrobe Valley Badminton Association would be among the local sporting clubs that would benefit from the state government’s investment.

The president of the Flacons 2000 Soccer Club, Tony Salvatore, echoed Mr Silvester’s concerns and “disappointment” after the announcement of the Games’ cancellation, but the club will also receive upgrades with their home located at GSEP.

The state government said it would deliver a new pavilion and upgraded pitches complete with lighting and increased visitor capacity, boosting local jobs and businesses and the region’s economy as thousands of visitors flock to Gippsland.

Falcons’ ground was meant to receive major upgrades while hosting the Rugby 7s. The state government has confirmed these projects will continue, but Mr Salvatore said he would prefer a concrete timeline.

It wasn’t only sporting clubs that were severely impacted by the Commonwealth Games fiasco. The owner of the Farnham Court Motel, Katie Reardon, gave evidence of her wasted time and efforts signing a contract to host Team England only a day before the cancellation announcement.

“It was embarrassing … It was just awful to have to tell them (Team England),” she told the committee.
Ms Reardon said the state’s decision to cancel the Games was “cruel” and spoke on the lost credibility that the state faces.

Not only did Ms Reardon have contracts signed, but the hotel owner also spent time preparing specialised plans to cater to Team England.
The sporting clubs echoed Ms Reardon’s struggle, with many local organisations consisting of mainly volunteers wasting their time to plan for an event that was inevitably never going to happen.


MAKING headlines across the world, the state government made the shock announcement cancelling the 2026 Commonwealth Games in July of 2023. The state government said a cost blowout of $6-7 billion was the reason the Games could not go on.


With past experience as an event planner, Ms Reardon said: “If I had of stood up and said to my board that my budget had blown out by $5 billion dollars … I would have been out the door on the spot … It’s appalling.”


Ken Balcombe from the Morwell Gun Club also gave evidence to the committee. Four days before the cancellation announcement, he met with Commonwealth Games representatives with the club set to host the Games Shooting and Para-shooting events.


He expressed his disappointment in the handling of affairs, wishing the process could have been more open and transparent from the state government.


Though Mr Balcombe spoke of the Gun Club’s recent success, having relocated with new upgrades, he gave evidence that the Gun Club spent around $30,000 out of pocket to get the facility up to Commonwealth Game standard, and they hoped to be reimbursed by the government for their wasted efforts.


With Minister Dimopoulos’ latest announcement, the Morwell Gun Club is confirmed to receive a new shotgun trap shooting range and safety upgrades.


Monday’s state government announcement provided no specific funding allocation or timeline other than the Gippsland investment will be under the $2 billion state-wide package.


Serving on the committee inquiry, the Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said recent local testimony highlighted the state government’s appalling planning and consultation.


“What’s change in four days? – nothing; Labor’s latest announcement is all headline with no deadline or funding”, said Ms Bath.


“Instead of providing certainty the Labor government is scrambling to manage perceptions.


“This announcement is a damage control exercise, made without consultation with our local sporting organisations.


“Legacy housing and sporting projects must have lasting benefit to our regional communities with direct input from grassroots stakeholders.


Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron echoed these sentiments and said the community is justifiably sceptical given this ‘announcement’ is nothing but a repeat of previous promises with no actions, no details, and no timelines.


“There is no substance or new information, and our Latrobe Valley community don’t know any more now than we did eight months ago when Labor shockingly cancelled the Games,” he said.


Mr Dimopoulos said the community specific investment from the state government would benefit the region better than the Commonwealth Games, stating the “investment is as big” as the exposure of international competition.


“We’re delivering for Victorians who live in regional Victoria, for their needs not for foreign athletes,” he said. “It’s a different board game and I think a far better board game.”


The Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing said the new developments would “provide an opportunity for clubs and communities to attract the big events, creating a boost for the local economy, even more jobs and a real buzz in these regional centres”.


The upgrades include the Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe, which will benefit from a refurbished oval, lighting, amenities, and terraces.


Further updates on the projects will be provided in the coming months, with first works to kick off later this year.


For more information about the Regional Sports Infrastructure Program, visit

Reviewing: Rouse, Dimopoulos and Howe tour the facility.

Team work: Latrobe City Council, Chief Executive Officer, Steven Piasente, Mayor Darren Howe, Minister for Tourism Steven Dimopoulos and Councill Executive Manager, Sports Legacy and Activation, James Rouse.

Not happy: Local sporting clubs have requested more transparency. Pictured is Tony Salvatore, president of the Falcons 2000 Soccer Club, with Garry Silvester, president of the Latrobe Valley Badminton Association, alongside Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath.

Out with the old: The state government has officially announced upgrades for four sporting facilities in Latrobe Valley including upgrades for the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.

Testimony: President of the Falcons 2000 Soccer Club, Tony Salvatore and President of Latrobe Valley Badminton Association, Garry Silvester, gave evidence at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the 2026 Commonwealth Games Bid. Photographs: Zaida Glibanovic