Bubbles not blankets to bring Australians together – says Matt

Matt Pearce CEO Talk2 Media & Events "Australia has always felt like a single country until now - the differences between the states and then with the Federal government is confusing, parochial and damaging"

Matt Pearce is the CEO of Talk2 Media & Events and his organisation is responsible for organising the annual Asia Pacific Incentives & Meetings Event AIME. He’s on the executive committee of the Exhibition & Event Association of Australia, has a long career in media and a quick look at his linkedin profile will show that he has operated at executive level in the world of events & exhibitions for the past 15 years. In other words Matt knows what he’s talking about when it comes to events.

He lives in Melbourne, which is currently experiencing the most extended and severe COVID-19 restrictions of any city in the western world. The people of Melbourne are effectively living under house arrest, with a couple of hours a day allowed outside for exercise and travel for essential needs. No transparency has been provided by the state government behind the decision for the curfew.

Melbourne is also home to AIME, which is owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau and brings thousands of national and international buyers to the city every year.

Matt Pearce describes how isolationist attitudes will continue to undermine recovery and that the answer for Australia lies within its great and enduring spirit.

“We have always seen that the domestic market is crucial to the recovery of business events in Australia and all the planning that we are doing for AIME in March 2021 has centred around the role that we can play in this. The recent Federal Government announcement of a $50million in funding to support Australia’s business events industry is welcome and I am sure that as the details start to come out about event eligibility criteria, we will see optimism increase.

Events though will only truly start moving when domestic borders are opened up. Australia, in population terms, is a small country and making it a series of smaller countries with their own borders makes no sense at all, unfortunately it’s the worst of federalism, not the best! Australia has always felt like a single country until now. No longer do we have a single and agreed approach to this pandemic and the differences between the states and then with the Federal government is confusing, parochial and damaging. The ongoing border closures are having a disproportionate effect on business confidence and business events. Many events are national and a great way to bring people together to solve issues, create new business opportunity and to learn. Unless we can have some collective thinking in driving ourselves out of this pandemic induced chaos, then we will become comatose, driven by fear and confusion rather than sound thinking.

James Pearson and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has come up with what appears to be a workable framework, referring to bubbles not blankets, when it comes to dealing with hot spots. If we can adopt this sort of principle, then we can kickstart the industry. More than a catchy title, you can see how this approach could work. Business Events are straight forward enough – people meet face to face to learn, network and do business, let’s not complicate it. First, though it has to start with trust. Let’s trust our colleagues and fellow business people that we are all trying to do the right thing. We can produce safe meetings that will drive business forward and help kickstart the economy.

So let’s stop managing by exception and manage in a way that reflects the true Australian spirit, Government needs to give us clear guidelines and rules and then empower us to all do the right thing. As event organisers, we have solid Covidsafe plans, as do the venues we operate. All these plans reflect State requirements and are all flexible.

I am confident that we will rise above this and by March when AIME is on, we will see the pent-up need to meet and do business and we will create a vibrant and well-attended event. Sense will prevail.

Stay well and once we are out of this lockdown we must talk!