Event organisers clash with WA government no dissent policy

The WA government requested that state-owned facilities not accept events 'where the content of the event does not represent the views of the West Australian government or the vast majority of Western Australians'

Over and above the restrictions caused by COVID an event organiser in Western Australia recently faced another obstacle to delivery of their events – dissent.

The Perth Theatre Trust (PTT), a management organisation that runs Western Australian state funded venues, had refused to take bookings from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), which is a Canberra based and religion-focused political advocacy group. The initial ban made national and international headlines last week but was overshadowed on the Australian eastern seaboard by lockdown news in New South Wales and Victoria.

The decision was based on a policy announced by the Western Australian Labor party just after their re-election in March, requesting that state-owned facilities not accept events ‘where the content of the event does not represent the views of the Western Australian government or the vast majority of Western Australians’.

PTT has now reversed their decision in the face of legal action from the lobby group.

The controversial policy included provisions to stop venues being hired by political parties for fundraising and electioneering, however it was reported in the Australian that a number of state funded venues had hosted Labor representatives.

One of the ACL’s events is planned to take place in Albany, which is nearly 5 hours outside of Perth, but PTT initially refused to accept their booking for the Albany Entertainment Centre, on the basis that the event had ‘politically motivated objectives.’

Mindful that the event will be an economic boost for the people of the region Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington asked for an explanation from PTT, stating that the policy was ‘draconian, discriminatory and financially irresponsible’.

The ACL threatened to take the case to the Equal Opportunities Commission and as a result, Perth Theatre Trust announced that their policy will be reviewed, and that the ACL events will now be welcomed at their venues.