Last week state and national governments’ reactions to increasing COVID cases reached fever pitch. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reminded citizens to ‘be kind’ as she locked down the north and south islands of New Zealand, Premier Dan Andrews shut down the whole of Victoria and authorised the use of rubber bullets against thousands of angry protestors at the weekend, all of New South Wales went into lockdown, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that we needed to learn to live with COVID and then WA Premier Mark McGowen said no we didn’t, and Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell spent most of his week aggressively demanding more extreme restrictions, seemingly ignorant of the fact that each lockdown announcement represents a death sentence for jobs, businesses and for the people who will lose their lives though suicide and undiagnosed illnesses.
Somewhere in all this chaos a panel 4 people representing the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) met with Minister for Trade Tourism & Investment Dan Teehan, to plea for urgent support for those left of what, eighteen months ago, was a 230,000 strong business events workforce.
Attending the virtual meeting and representing BECA & its members was BECA deputy Chair Geoff Donaghy, Matt Pearce, Kate Smith and Andrew Hiebl
Donaghy stated, “With minimal opportunity to earn revenue over the past 18 months, the current Delta lockdowns across Australia are directly impacting lives and livelihoods and the core capability of our dynamic industry.”
The panel acknowledged that the vaccination rollout is central to everyone getting back to work but highlighted the lack of clarity in the government’s 4-phase National Plan for restarting events, has effectively left the industry in limbo.
“When restrictions lift, business events cannot simply switch on like other industries. Significant lead time is required to book, plan, and deliver business events, which is why targeted and sustained support for our sector is required into 2022,” said Donaghy.
BECA has called for a return for a wage subsidy scheme to support and retain specialist industry skills, the introduction of a Commonwealth led event insurance scheme to cover cancellations as a result of COVID restrictions, and an improved Business Events Grants Program to encourage face to face events in 2022.