The O’Neill report has certainly stirred up things in Sydney regards exhibition space in that city. The basic problem is that SCEC is constrained on all sides regarding expansion without resorting to some desperate measures. One of those measures being considered is the redevelopment of the Entertainment centre site while Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is pushing for development of the airspace over central railway – can just see that being a goer. The current “link” building suffers enough from the rumble of traffic on the overhead roadways and anyone who has worked in the Theatre Royal is aware of the rumble from the trains in the nearby underground.
Then there is the practical suggestion that appropriate trade shows be moved to the Sydney Showground. There are many shows that are quite successfully staged at Homebush Bay including those involving large machinery such as earthmoving and mining along with those aimed at the general populous such as the ABC gardening show.
The most ridiculous response to the report came from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph who put forward the suggestion that a number of major shows would be moved to the Showground – these included Fashion Week (wouldn’t be seen dead west of Balmain); the Motor Show (might just suit the petrol heads out west) and the doozey of them all the Boat Show. The Terror’s journalists didn’t suggest how the Cockle Bay Marina would be duplicated on the Parramatta River (or maybe they were thinking of flooding the brick pit).
Fortunately the exhibition industry gave the report more considered thought, including….
SCVB Managing Director Jon Hutchison said the report confirmed the urgent need for more convention and exhibition space in Sydney to enable the city to continue to meet strong demand from the international convention sector.
“The recommendations of the O’Neill report recognise the need to expand our city’s meeting facilities in order to ensure Sydney continues to maximise economic returns from the meeting sector and maintains its position as Australia’s premier business events destination.
“We look forward to the NSW Government’s response to the report,” he said.
The Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) fully supports any initiative that will contribute to the growth of the industry, such as the expansion of existing exhibition and conference facilities as recommended in the ‘Review into Sydney Convention and Exhibition Space’ report released earlier this week by John O’Neill for the NSW Government.
However, we are concerned at the lack of consultation with local industry representatives and organisations such as ours in preparing this report.
The exhibition organisers, who represent more than 80 per cent of the main business and consumer exhibitions held in NSW, welcomed the broad goals of the report by John O’Neill AO, and agreed with its key conclusion that Sydney requires a substantial increase in exhibition space and improvement of existing premises if the city were to remain competitive.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Matthew Pearce, Managing Director of Diversified Exhibitions Australia, said: “We believe strongly in securing and supporting the long-term future of exhibitions in Sydney and NSW, so we welcome the Iemma Government’s commitment to attracting large-scale events to the area and for initiating this report.
“However, we are all deeply concerned that the O’Neill report’s core assumption – that international events are more valuable and therefore the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre should exclude local events – is fundamentally flawed.”
Indeed – we all look forward to the NSW Government’s response to the report.