Victoria’s event industry makes itself heard outside parliament house

A group of event industry suppliers led by Damian De Jong from Action Events outside Parliament House in Melbourne.

A group of event industry suppliers, led by Damian De Jong from Action Events, organised for 40 branded event vehicles to circle Victoria’s parliament house with horns blaring to show that their part of the event industry, which is involved with community events, has been completely forgotten by government.

Inside parliament the plight of the event industry was raised in both houses. In the Legislative Council (upper house) the government was asked to respond to the email that hundreds of event industry people had send to their local members of parliament.

Each government member of the upper house had been contacted by between 10 and 40 of their constituents from the event industry in the last few days, as part of Save Victorian Event’s ongoing campaign.

In the lower house, Minister for Tourism and Major Events Martin Pakula was asked by the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Cindy McLeish whether he would meet with those events businesses which have lost millions of dollars as a result of the government’s lockdowns and border closures.

“I could well hear the events sector circling the Parliament,” he said. “I think one of the things that they were demonstrating about was the impending end of JobKeeper.

“At the time the Commonwealth decided that JobKeeper would end on 31 March they believed that 4 million people would have been vaccinated, and there may well be a very good case for some continuation in some sectors, like this one.

“The fact is in regard to the events sector it has been badly affected by the absence of international visitors and not helped by the fact that they are now trying to send tourists to other parts of the country.

“The events sector has been terribly affected by the lack of international visitors. They have also been affected by the fact that business events that normally take place in person have been taking place online, and that is not something that is going to change in the near future.

“Having said that, the government has been providing an enormous amount of support to the business event sector. We have paid more than 6300 coronavirus support payments to businesses in the events sector.

“The fact is that the recipients have included catering businesses. They have included food businesses. They have included equipment hiring operators. They have included event organisers, managers and performing arts operators.

“The most recent meeting between my department and the events sector was on 3 March…to discuss opportunities for how they could be supported under the public events framework. There have been more than 10 creative and cultural forums hosted by my department with peak organisations and 20 forums with DJPR (Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions). We will continue to support the sector.”