As a concerned, long-time member of the event industry I felt that someone had to represent the industry at the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s preparedness to host Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games.
I was concerned that if I didn’t put in a submission and appear that there would be no one from the event industry giving voice to our concerns at the Inquiry. And the Comm Games is a big deal for our industry, and a bit loss for many – be it those that have just lost their jobs or the countless people and suppliers that would have worked on the Comm Games.
So on Monday I appeared before the Senate Inquiry when it sat in Melbourne with the intention to give an Event Industry perspective of the Commonwealth Games debacle from my perspective.
Here is some of what I had to say to the committee…
“The reason why we are all here today is because the Victorian government didn’t value, respect or properly utilise the unique skills, experience and capabilities that Victoria’s event industry has. The very things that built Victoria’s reputation as a place that consistently delivers world class events.”
“Our industry plays a huge role in events like the Games. Many of the people involved in managing the whole event are from our industry. We do the ceremonies, live sites, sports presentations, corporate hospitality and activations, and related business events and community events.”
“Our people and suppliers also do all the production, a lot of the temporary site infrastructure as well as supporting infrastructure for media. They also provide a wide range of specialist services such as site management, risk management, security, cleaning, first aid, etc.”
“It was astonishing that the Chiefs responsible for critical areas such as Strategy, Planning, Delivery Coordination, Games Services, Culture, Ceremonies and Governance – as well as the CEO – all, to our knowledge, had little to no real operational experience on major events.”
“In contrast, the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games had a CEO who had a vast amount of major event experience. He brought in many key people who’d successfully delivered the Sydney Olympics. It was a very strong team so not a surprise that Melbourne 2006 was viewed as the best Commonwealth Games up to that point. They also ran to budget.”
“There is a lot more to successfully organising events than people outside of our industry realise. Time and time again, we’ve seen people with little real event experience try to do what we do with disastrous results.”
“With events, if you don’t get the foundations right, it is very unlikely that your event will succeed.”
“The surprise of event industry suppliers that costs were the deal breaker – as none of them had even been asked for even budget costs.”
“And similarly, that the organisers hadn’t engaged with the event industry to find much more economical ways to do things, even though this is what our industry excels at – especially with temporary infrastructure.”
“For half of the pandemic DJPR tried to argue that the event industry wasn’t even an industry. Then, they thought that they could do themselves what our industry actually does – ending in a shambles.”
To that I add…
Just walking away from an event goes against everything event people and the event industry stands for. We find lateral ways to solve problems and we do whatever it takes to deliver our events.
A lot of us in the event industry are horrified that our state has gone from being renowned around the world for delivering successful major events to being one of the only places in the world to have ever walked away from a Games. To not even be able to get a viable plan together.
The Event Industry has long called for the Victoria government to have a dedicated Events Victoria unit. A unit with people who have real Event Industry experience to support and develop Victoria’s Event Industry.
The Commonwealth Games episode shows that a dedicated Events Victoria is urgently needed to help restore Victoria’s reputation as a leading event state and to ensure that a debacle like this can never happen again.
Ed. ASE asked MEA and ABEA why no industry association made representations to the committee. Essentially the response was that the Games are a sporting event (not a business event).
MEA CEO Peter McDonald responded
Noting the inquiry’s Terms of Reference: “The adequacy of Australia’s preparedness to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane, and to leave a legacy of sporting infrastructure to encourage more Australians to participate in elite and community sports and live active lifestyles…”
The objectives are therefore to consider sporting infrastructure and participation in sport. These do not specifically pertain to event management, which is and must remain our primary focus. Other more appropriately informed organisations are better suited to make comment in the context of the Inquiry objectives than MEA.