A HIGH PRICETAG SMUDGES SYDNEY'S OLYMPICS VICTORY
* Sydney's euphoria over being chosen to host the 2000 Olympics is fast turning to consternation as official reports indicate that the Games will cost twice the initial estimates.
Liberal Premier of New South Wales John Fahey last week released 1992 Treasury Department documents warning the state government that the Games would not be affordable without a tax and urging against bidding for the Games. Secretary of the Treasury Percy Allen said that New South Wales's credit rating might be at risk and proposed a choice of three taxes to pay for the Games.
The premier has come under fire from the opposition Labor Party for withholding the information until after the decision to bid for the Games and for not heeding the advice.
The dispute over the funding began Oct. 12 when Mr. Fahey revealed that the Games would cost $3 billion (Australian; US$2 billion). The original estimate given to the International Olympic Committee was $1.7 billion; opposition leaders are now accusing Fahey of deception.
The higher figure includes $800 million for infrastructure costs for the Homebush Bay Olympic Park development, which will include aquatic and athletic centers, and $500 million for the media and athletes' accommodations.
``There is no blow-out,'' says Fahey, referring to the allegation that he misled the public. ``It's convenient for the opposition to roll these figures together and call it a blow-out.'' The money for Homebush Bay, he says, was not included in the budget because the government was planning to fund the project whether or not the city hosted the Olympics. And the athletes' village was not included because it is to be privately funded and built.
Fahey insists that the Olympics budget is balanced and that there will be no Olympics tax. But he has called on the Federal government to issue bonds to raise $500 million to fund infrastructure.
Liberal leader Bob Carr counters, ``The opposition has a strong obligation to ensure the Olympics don't cost us basic services like school, hospitals, and existing jobs.''