Why was Warrnambool not named an event host for the Commonwealth Games? And how do we now scramble and make sure our region gets a piece of the $3 billion economic pie?
Announcing the regional event this week, Premier Daniel Andrews said: "It'll be a games for jobs. It'll be a games for tourism. It'll be a games that puts regional Victoria on the world stage."
And Warrnambool doesn't look like it will be on that stage.
It is embarrassing the city has seemingly missed a golden opportunity.
It is estimated the games will contribute more than $3 billion to Victoria's economy, creating more than 600 full-time equivalent jobs before the games, 3900 jobs during the games and a further 3000 jobs beyond the closing ceremony.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, this would have been a perfect event to showcase Warrnambool and the south-west.
A few events remain unallocated, that's why our city leaders now need to vigorously campaign for those, sooner rather than later for the sake of jobs, tourism and the economy.
Imagine the men's and women's marathons showcasing Warrnambool's beautiful Thunder Point and Lake Pertobe precinct to millions of viewers across the world. Money can't buy that exposure.
A highly-placed state government source confirmed to The Standard on Tuesday the council had not directly advocated to host any events.
Isn't advocating for the city what council staff and councillors do?
City Memorial Bowls club general manager Julie Dosser in January expressed interest in hosting lawn bowls events. She was never approached by anyone at the council about the possibility and questioned how much work was done by the council to promote the city.
"I want to know why we weren't successful. How much effort was put into it?" she asked.
The council's chief executive officer Peter Schneider said advocacy was done collaboratively with Regional Cities Victoria and they had discussed the games with local members of parliament.
Clearly that was not enough.
How much more notice did the council need?
It was first mooted in 2017 Victoria could host a future games with a big focus on regional areas running events across the state.
Fast-forward four years and the idea was back in the spotlight.
In January it was touted Warrnambool could host road cycling, hockey and lawn bowls.
At the time then-mayor Richard Ziegeler said the council hadn't discussed the possibility of hosting events.
He said the prospect had "potential" and would be considered if external funding and community support was available.
"It's one thing to be ambitious and audacious in thinking Warrnambool could be a player in the Commonwealth Games - but there would need to be a lot of research and consultation to ensure that any commitments made were in the long-term interests of Warrnambool," he told The Standard.
So what happened between then and the announcement on Tuesday?
What discussions did the councillors and council have about hosting events in the city?
Did the councillors explore and advocate to host events?
Why wasn't a working group set up to talk to cycling groups or lawn bowls organisations about the potential of hosting those sports?
Finding opportunities to grow and expand the economy should be a top priority for councillors and the city council.
No stone should be left unturned by the council in getting a slice of the $3 billion games. It's time to get to work.
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