Up until late June, there seemed to be a path back for the events industry, but now uncertainty prevails again despite the Prime Minister and the NSW Premier both stating that we need to push through whilst other states posture and take a different position. It will be a test to see if the PM has the backbone to back his position once vaccination rate targets are hit and hold states accountable to deliver of the national cabinet agreement as this in itself forms the base for the events industry to resume.
As way of an example based on the Australian population the current total cases (allowing some are no longer infectious) represent .0477%, not even close to even 1% of the population! It should also be overlayed that the annual flu rate hits around 1.2% of the population and the death rate still is higher than covid.
Increasing the vaccination number and having controls in place is sensible but we cannot have the shutting down, opening and then shutting down again of our industry, and many others for that matter. How can it be a way for it to not only survive but plan any form of regrowth? The old chestnut from the past 18 months hasn’t changed, it centres around confidence.
The industry has developed a responsible framework to reopen, have actually proved we can run and there is an appetite to get pent up demand face to face meetings and NOT ONE case was linked back to a business event, largely to do with the protocols the industry put in place from venues and organisers.
However there is a BUT, the start date or reopening of the sector seems to be a daily moving target and varies from state to state; we are a national industry and dependant on all state borders being open to run Business Events, however as of today NOT ONE State has a documented road map. A road map that indicates when we can reopen, the attendance restrictions, along with border conditions. Because without these fundamentals we simply can’t operate and I would now suggest that the survival of the sector is very much at risk.
It is highly unlikely any show will run in the remainder of 2021 and if they do they will be smaller state based events, this leads to shows resuming from February 2022, some six months away. The true impact will be further highlighted when the sugar hit of Government payments are removed as soon as a state says the lockdown is over, meaning the industry has to stump up the ongoing financial running for many months without any income.
In some respects its worse for the States not locked down as their business has shrunk or disappeared but they are not eligible for Government support. Conversely when things open up cafes, restaurants and tourism have an immediate income hit, business events need to carry the overheads and risk for another 5 to 12 months, its largely not viable and made worse without any certainty.
The Prime Minister has been great at promoting the National Cabinet decisions, but, without state co-operation, we are simply kicking cans down the street, and not all will survive.
We shouldn’t be penalised by one or two states, and it’s clear that some premiers are playing a political game and the talk of economic recovery is a statement they want voters to hear but lacks any depth. The major difference seems to still not apply to double standards for sport and movie making, who seem to have a different set of rules. Have we done that poor a job of not being recognised?
However, unlike all of the state and federal governments employees and health, police and armed forces, who are being paid their full entitlements ( if “we are all in it together,” the Federal and State Governments who are so good at making claims around their commitments why don’t they start by taking a pay cut? ) our industry continues to haemorrhage with the sector’s existence on the line with thousands of companies and their employees barely surviving, whilst dealing with the mental wellbeing, as well as.
In the last two months, we seem to have come full circle. When can we resume and start making a contribution to the economy but more importantly creating jobs and employment for 240,000 people? The best fix for our industry is running, re-employing and contributing to the state economies. The current subsidies for the states locked down is a Band-Aid solution and does not treat the infliction we have and will not save the industry, it merely puts us on hold and in many cases businesses are slowly dying and closing.
So, I ask, what is it going to take to get some form of recognition, a road map and some plan to allow the industry to resume.
The Business Events sector was one of the first to shut, and on current tracking we will be the last to reopen, displacing just under 240,000 people, most of which have a specific skill and passion for what they do, and an impact of their extended families, surely there must be a road map with milestone dates we can work to in order to in-still confidence so business events can resume?