Puffing Billy worth more to the Andrews government than the business event sector

Simon Thewlis, from lobby group Save Victorian Events, has thrown cold water on the Victorian Government’s commitment of more than $42 million over four years for the state’s business events sector, saying it falls woefully short of the amount needed to keep the event sector afloat.

Speaking on the same day of the ongoing Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Support for the Tourism and Events Sectors, Thewlis said that without further support, many more jobs, particularly in the supply chain that supports events, were still at risk.

“The total amount in the budget for Melbourne Convention Bureau and their business event program for the next year is $10.2 million. The total amount for Puffing Billy for the same period is $11.2 million,” said Thewlis.

“MCB’s business event grants are helpful and will certainly help some events happen. Though only about 5 per cent of business events fit the criteria. Most other types of events received no support at all.

“We understand that Tourism Minister Martin Pakula has put out a statement saying that over 8,600 event industry businesses have received $71 million in state government support – through the Business Support Fund, etc.

“This is just not true. The government actually doesn’t know how much of the Business Support Fund or other support went to event industry businesses. It uses ANZSIC codes on the funding applications. But the ANZSIC codes that event industry businesses come under are common to the arts, the entertainment industry, the tourism sector, sport, and many other areas. So their numbers refer to businesses from all those sectors and industries.

“But when you do the maths on their numbers, they are saying that on average each business received just $8,000. The very hardest hit industry most of which was closed for a year – and many have still not done one live event, and just $8,000 in support on average.

“There has still been no targeted support to businesses in Victoria’s event industry. If the Victorian government provided the same support to event industry businesses that Tasmania did, we would be in a very different place.

“We want Victoria to again be Australia’s premier event state. But this can’t happen without the people and businesses who actually build and operate the events. It is time for the government to support these people.”