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Event industry suppliers circle Victorian Parliament in protest at lack of state government support
A group of Victorian event industry suppliers and carnival ride operators used their vehicles to encircle the Victorian Parliament building yesterday protesting at the lack of state government support for those involved in community events.
Organised by Damian De Jong of Action Events and linked with the Save Victorian Events campaign, 40 branded event vehicles drove around the Parliament House building with horns blaring expressing their frustration that the sector, set to be impacted by the end of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper allowance, has, unlike other industries impacted by the Coronavirus crisis, received no support from the Victorian Government.
Commenting on what drove the protest, De Jong advised “events make up over 20% of the Victorian economy but since the sector was shut down at the start of the Coronavirus we were not able to work for the rest of 2020 and have only had limited business this year.
“As events take months to plan, when JobKeeper finishes we face having to let even more of our staff go while many businesses may have to cease operations.”
Comparing support that other sectors have received from the Victorian Government, De Jong explained “the building sector has had additional support as have major events, but there is no understanding of the importance of the overall sector - community events, smaller shows, school fetes - and that when the event sector does revive it will be unable to do so without event suppliers.”
Citing widespread job losses across the sector, and likely further losses, De Jong pointed out that event industry expertise will be lost to Victoria, pointing out that in the aftermath of the Moomba Carnival mobile and ride operators had largely left the state to work on the Queensland and NSW show circuit.
Supporting the protest, Victorian Opposition MP David Southwick, Shadow Minister for Police and Shadow Minister for Community Safety, stated “the Victoria's events industry are on their knees and desperately need support.
“They need certainty that they can run events going forward, support and a voice.”
Inside Parliament House the state of the events industry was raised in both houses. In the Legislative Council (Upper House) the Victorian Government was asked to respond to email that event industry stakeholders had sent to their local members of parliament.
Each government member of the Upper House had been contacted by between 10 and 40 of their constituents from the event industry in the last few days, as part of the ongoing Save Victorian Events campaign
In the lower house, Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events Martin Pakula was asked by the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Cindy McLeish whether he would meet with those events businesses which have lost millions of dollars as a result of the government’s lockdowns and border closures.
In response, Minister Pakula advised “I could well hear the events sector circling the Parliament. “I think one of the things that they were demonstrating about was the impending end of JobKeeper” and going on to add “in regard to the events sector it has been badly affected by the absence of international visitors and not helped by the fact that they (the Federal Government) are now trying to send tourists to other parts of the country.
“The events sector has been terribly affected by the lack of international visitors. They have also been affected by the fact that business events that normally take place in person have been taking place online, and that is not something that is going to change in the near future.
“Having said that, the (Victorian) Government has been providing an enormous amount of support to the business event sector. We have paid more than 6,300 Coronavirus support payments to businesses in the events sector.
“The fact is that the recipients have included catering businesses. They have included food businesses. They have included equipment hiring operators. They have included event organisers, managers and performing arts operators.”
Venues also call for Victorian Government support
An open letter signed by more than 200 venue representatives calling for a “clear and balanced roadmap for easing restrictions and increasing venue capacities” has been delivered to the Victorian Government.
Coordinated by Save Our Scene and signed by representatives from prominent Victorian venues including The Espy, Corner Hotel, Northcote Social Club, Forum Theatre and The Tote, it calls on the Victorian Government to ease venue density restrictions in the hopes of securing more income to remain afloat.
The letter reads: “Following nine months of closure, Victoria’s live music venues recommenced operating in December 2020 with COVID safe capacity restrictions in place, based on a density quotient of 1 person per 2 metre².
“These restrictions mean our venues are operating at around 30% of their licensed capacity, resulting in a 70% drop in revenue whilst fixed costs including rent, insurance, utilities and staff remain static.”
In Victoria, indoor seated venues are currently limited to 75% of their regular capacities up to 1,000 people, and unseated venues can open with up to 50% capacity or 1,000 people.
Outdoor unseated venues are subject to a two metre² rule, while seated venues are limited to 75% of their seated capacity per space up to 1,000 patrons.
The Victorian Government had previously introduced a $15 million Live Music Venues Program to support venues while restrictions were in place.
While two rounds of funding from this pool have since been distributed to businesses, signatories claim the funding did not go far enough.
The letter also makes the comparison to the various sporting events, such as the Australian Open, which have been allowed to proceed over the course of the pandemic.
Images: Event industry suppliers and carnival ride operators' vehicles circling Victorian Parliament House yesterday (top) and event industry suppliers led by Damian De Jong and Victorian Opposition MP David Southwick [at centre] take their protest to the steps of Parliament House (below). Video shows debate on the matter in the Victorian Upper House.
10th March 2021 - Moomba long weekend sees more people in the Melbourne CBD
8th March 2021 - Australian Regional Events Alliance looks to support events industry
26th February 2021 - MCG set to welcome 50,000 fans for AFL season opener
17th February 2021 - VTIC fear loss of jobs in Victoria tourism and events without further support
17th February 2021 - Musicians call for JobKeeper extension
16th February 2021 - Survey finds workers considering leaving the Victorian music industry
16th February 2021 - Victoria Police make three arrests after storming Melbourne gym ignoring lockdown
11th February 2021 - Tourism Australia launches new campaign to boost business events across Australia
16th December 2020 - Coronavirus halted booming year for Australia’s live music sector
23rd October 2020 - Survey shows over 400 Australian Live Music Businesses face imminent closure
2nd October 2020 - Venues in 25 nations light up red to back #WeMakeEvents initiative
11th September 2020 - Australian business events industry welcomes $50 million funding announcement
27th July 2020 - Melbourne secures high-profile business events
18th February 2020 - Tourism Australia’s Business Events enhances presence at AIME 2020
9th December 2019 - Ernst & Young study confirms value of major events to Victorian economy
21st December 2017 - Business events sector looks to develop future workforce
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