BECA warns event sector ‘cannot simply switch on’ when disaster payments end

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has criticised the decision to wind up federally funded disaster payments when vaccination rates hit 80 per cent, saying the Morrison Government has turned its back on the events industry.

BECA said the move does not take into account the nature of the business events industry which cannot simply switch back on in two weeks after a state or territory hits its vaccination target. The decision also does not take into account the inability of delegates to move freely around the nation with continued border restrictions.

“While we are very supportive of the Government’s National Plan and vaccination rollout, it cannot be confused with the ability for the business events industry to trade,” said Geoff Donaghy, BECA’s Deputy Chair.

“When restrictions lift, business events cannot simply switch on like other industries. Significant lead time is required to book, plan, and deliver business events, which is why targeted and sustained support for our sector is required into 2022.

“It will take 6 to 12 months at least for business events to fully gear up, confirm program content, source sponsors and exhibitors, and market the event to attract delegate registrations.”

The announcement made by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday will also see a continued erosion of the sector’s skilled workforce.

“Our once successful business events industry that contributed $36 billion to the economy and supported 230,000 jobs pre-pandemic needs the support of Government in this time of most dire need and should not be caught up in the Federation debate taking place at this time,” said Donaghy.

However, the NSW government will continue to fund its half of the JobSaver payments for another month beyond the Federal Government’s deadline at the end of October when the state is expected to reach its vaccination target of 80 per cent.

JobSaver payments will be reduced from covering the equivalent of 40 per cent of a business’ weekly payroll to 30 per cent when NSW hits the 70 per cent threshold around October 10.

Between October 10 and October 23, the minimum and maximum weekly payments available to employing businesses will also be reduced by 25 per cent.

“The continuation of JobSaver over the next two months will give businesses across NSW the financial boost they need to get them through the challenge of re-opening their doors,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is so close, and this support will help see businesses and workers out to the other side and prepare them for re-launch.”