Calls for government backed insurance scheme for events grow louder

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young is pushing for a federally funded insurance scheme for events.

Greens and Labor have backed calls for a federally funded insurance scheme to underwrite live events, with the Greens preparing to introduce a private member’s bill in the Senate.

“There has been a clear market failure and the government must step in and underwrite an insurance scheme,” said the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“A federal insurance guarantee will plug this massive hole in the insurance market and help get our shows back on the road well into the future.

“The live performance sector isn’t asking for a handout, it is asking for a product that simply isn’t available right now so that they can plan gigs, festivals and events with confidence they won’t keep taking massive financial hits with ongoing restrictions and lockdowns.”

Since July 1 this year, more than 28,000 live events have been cancelled, resulting in a loss of more than $84 million, according to the Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festival Association’s latest report.

However, Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said any insurance scheme was the responsibility of the states who are ultimately in control of border closures and lockdowns.

“It is decisions by state government health authorities which trigger the business losses faced by producers of arts and entertainment events,” a spokesperson for Fletcher told Guardian Australia.

“Therefore, it is state governments which are best placed to provide cover against this kind of risk.”

The UK has recently launched a £750 million government-backed program. Developed by the UK Government Actuary’s Department (GAD), the scheme will allow event organisers to buy cost indemnification cover against the risk that UK Civil Authority restrictions prevent events from legally proceeding. The scheme will run until September 2022.

“This initiative will help various sectors in the events industry as they build back better following the pandemic,” said Actuary Andy van Buiten was the project lead in GAD.