Dear valued subscriber,
What a difference a couple of days can make.
Earlier this week the state government announced regional Victoria would host the 2026 Commonwealth Games with hubs set up in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong to house athletes and stage events.
Warrnambool and the south-west were seemingly rendered spectators after we revealed the city council had failed to lobby directly with Sports Minister Martin Pakula and the department responsible for the games. Organisers within several sports have told us of their frustration with the council's lack of urgency.
As one person told us this week, the council's approach was akin to expecting to win lotto without buying a ticket. Ballarat's bid, in comparison, was headed by a man involved with Gold Coast's 2018 successful bid. When the possibility of regional Victoria hosting the games became real in January, our proud sporting region saw opportunities and feedback was overwhelmingly positive about being involved. That's why we took the unusual step of publishing an editorial on Thursday's front page criticising the city's lack of advocacy and vision and called for action.
Warrnambool City Council's chief executive officer Peter Schneider attended a meeting with department representatives on Thursday afternoon.
With the support of Dan Tehan, the federal tourism minister until a week ago when the election was called, and state MP Roma Britnell, all three tiers of government in the region united vowing to fight for any events or sports left unallocated.
The marathon is yet to be allocated to a region and our leaders have set their sights on it and shooting events. If they're unsuccessful in pursuit of those, they will chase lead up events and training in hockey, lawn bowls and athletics.
This is a significant and welcome step forward.
Work needs to be done, quickly, on our bid. What route could the marathon take? Could it start in picturesque Port Fairy, wind its way around Tower Hill and culminate in Warrnambool after passing scenic landmarks like Thunder Point, the foreshore, Cannon Hill? What about the Great Ocean Road, could the course include Childers Cove or be contained further east to feature the Bay of Martyrs and 12 Apostles?
The Lake Gillear shooting precinct is yet another picturesque location.
Aerial footage of either shooting or marathons along our spectacular coastline would be beamed across the Commonwealth. That's publicity the region could never afford to buy.
Our leaders, despite the false start, have a golden opportunity to grab a slice of the games' expected $3 billion economic boost.
But they need to take sporting groups and the community on the journey to the start line. They need to consult with those at the grassroots who know their sports well. People power could be pivotal in deciding what, if any, events come to the region.
Our leaders need to chase these events with passion and determination associated with elite sport. The clock is ticking, no stone can be left unturned in the race to the June deadline. C'mon, we can do this.
The federal election campaign is officially under way and we launched our own pub test this week. No, it wasn't an idea dreamed up by a journo as an excuse to spend an afternoon a week at the bar. The pub test, a collective opinion of everyday Australians on the conduct and reputation of public figures, is so powerful it can make or break the careers of politicians and the election fortunes of entire parties. There's nothing scientific about the pub test, it's not an opinion poll, it's the views of a cross-section of south-west residents. Each week our panel members will give their thoughts on the campaign and help us cut through the spin and see what passes the pub test and what doesn't.
Warrnambool's famous May Racing Carnival is not far away. If you want to be trackside for the third and final day when the time-honoured Grand Annual Steeplechase and Warrnambool Cup are run, enter here for your chance to win free tickets. We are giving away 15 double passes valued at $60 each. Winners will be notified.
Don't forget to check out some of the stories, below, that made headlines this week.
Greg Best, Editor, The Standard
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