Yesterday, a group of event industry suppliers – led by Damian De Jong from Action Events – organised for 40 branded event vehicles to circle parliament house with horns blaring. They were there to show that their part of the event industry – which is involved with community events – has been completely forgotten by government.
Needless to say, everyone in parliament knew the Event Industry was on their doorstep and had a strong message.
Watch on Facebook
Inside parliament the plight of the event industry was raised in both houses.
In the Legislative Council (upper house) the government was asked to respond to the email that hundreds of event industry people had send 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 Save Victorian Event’s ongoing campaign.
You can watch the response from the government Minister here
The Minister’s answer clearly shows the huge challenge we still have as an industry.
In the lower house, the question asked of the Minister for Tourism and Major Events and his answer is just illustrative (in full from Hansard):
Ms McLEISH (Eildon) (11:24): My question is to the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery. Today Victorian event operators have been circling Parliament House in a desperate bid to draw your attention to their plight. Will the minister today meet with these businesses, which have lost millions of dollars as a result of the government’s failures to manage contact tracing and hotel quarantine?
Mr PAKULA (Keysborough—Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events) (11:24): I thank the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party for her question, and 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 the fact that at the time—
Mr M O’Brien: On a point of order, Speaker, under standing orders answers to questions must be factual. If the minister had actually gone out and met with them like I had, he would have known that he was wrong. He is wrong!
The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition knows that is not a point of order.
The SPEAKER: Order! Members on both sides!
Mr PAKULA: I am not the one you are angry at. At the time that the commonwealth decided that JobKeeper was going to end on 31 March—
Mr PAKULA: I am coming to it—they believed that there would be—
The SPEAKER: Order! Members on my right!
Mr Southwick: On a point of order, Speaker, I know a number of government members might think this is funny, but these are mum and dad operators that are on their knees at the moment. The question was very clear: would the minister meet with these mum and dad operators and find out their request and actually help them?
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Caulfield to resume his seat. The member for Caulfield has been here long enough to know that is not a point of order.
Mr PAKULA: The point I was making was that at the time the commonwealth decided that JobKeeper would end on 31 March they believed that 4 million people would have been vaccinated, and there may well be a very good case for some continuation in some sectors, like this one. The fact is 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 are now trying to send tourists to other parts of the country.
The SPEAKER: Order! I ask the Manager of Opposition Business and the Leader of the House to assist with the smooth running of the house.
Ms McLeish: On a point of order, Speaker, this is about the Victorian government’s lack of assistance for the event operators. The question was: will you meet with them today so that you hear that they are not roaring back, that they are struggling and they are on their knees.
The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party knows that is not a point of order.
Mr PAKULA: It is a bit difficult to get to the answer if the opposition takes points of order every 4 seconds. 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 government has been providing an enormous amount of support to the business event sector. We have paid more than 6300 coronavirus support payments to businesses in the events sector, totalling $57 million across—
Ms McLeish: On a further point of order, Speaker, on relevance, these event operators operate carnivals and sideshows. They are not getting a zack from this government.
The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party!
Mr PAKULA: Quite clearly those opposite do not want to hear the answer. 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. Most recently in the circuit-breaker support package there was support there as well. In regard to engagement with—
Mr Southwick: On a further point of order, Speaker, the question was very, very, very simple: would the minister meet with these operators? These operators do not receive international visitors. They are carnival operators. They are—
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Caulfield can resume his seat. It is not a point of order.
Mr PAKULA: The most recent meeting between my department and the events sector was on 3 March—only a few days ago, two weeks ago—to discuss opportunities for how they could be supported under the public events framework. There have been more than 10 creative and cultural forums hosted by my department with peak organisations and 20 forums with DJPR. We will continue to support the sector, and we do not need the advice of the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.
The SPEAKER: Order! The minister’s answer has concluded. Father of the house!
As we all know, only 3% of delegates at business events are from overseas. And, we know a lot of people are very keen to get back to in person events. Yet the Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events seems to have completely given up on live business events and events generally!
He is yet to meet with the Event Industry, and has provided no targeted support to the Event Industry.
Yesterday, the opposition and all key minor parties expressed their deep concern and continued support for the Event Industry.
Our event industry needs government support at both federal and state level. Yesterday was again a reminder that we can get our voices heard in parliaments and that we need to. And, that we still have a lot of work to do.
There is is not one minute to waste!