Labor MP Bill Shorten has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “not confuse stubbornness with leadership” and extend the JobKeeper program past its March 2021 deadline, in order to save the events industry.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the member for Maribyrnong, Victoria said the “live event industry in Australia has been terribly hard hit by COVID-19”.
“Many people have been affected negatively, but none harder than the live events industry. They need government assistance and they need it now,” he said.
“Everyone in Australia wants to return to normal; however, we can’t do that until the job is finished, and in live events the government has not finished the job.
“JobKeeper must stay.”
Shorten presented findings from a recent impact survey conducted by the Save Victorian Events group.
Some 150 event companies were surveyed, including event organisers, PCOs and suppliers of audio visual, lighting, rigging, staging, theming, equipment rental and registration.
The survey found:
- From April to December 2020, the income of event businesses was down 85 per cent
- The forecast for January to June 2021 shows income will be down 76 per cent
- The forecast for July to December 2021 shows income will be down 67 per cent
It also found, if JobKeeper is not extended, 46 per cent of event businesses will need to let staff go and 39 per cent of event companies will shut their doors.
Watch Bill Shorten’s events industry speech here:
Shorten said the “dramatic new research” proves the events sector needs JobKeeper to be extended.
“This is an industry too important to be simply thrown on the scrap heap,” he said.
“I say to Mr Morrison on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people working in the industry and millions of Australians who attend live events every year: please, Mr Morrison, do not confuse stubbornness with leadership.
“There is no disgrace in amending your views as you find that facts present new information.
“The live events industry is a fundamental part of the Australian economy. We can’t get back to normal until the job is finished. JobKeeper needs to be kept going.”
Despite growing calls for the program to be extended, the Federal Government has remained firm on its decision to end JobKeeper in March, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg telling the ABC, “It was always a temporary program.”
Parliamentary focus follows industry campaign
The event industry’s air time in Parliament comes after many months of campaigning from the Save Victorian Events group.
Speaking to Spice News last week, Simon Thewlis who heads up the group, said more than 1,500 emails were sent to government ministers as part of the campaign, pleading for support and clearer event guidelines.
The campaign has also led to a greater understanding of the events industry.
“The biggest thing we faced is that the government didn’t view the event industry as an industry…the government viewed events as just being a part of tourism,” he said.
But the work is far from over. Thewlis says while federal and state financial support is crucial, so too is clear messaging around business events.
“We need the state government to release proper guidelines that say what’s allowed for business events and to make a real statement that business events are welcome in Victoria,” he said.