A Victorian parliamentary inquiry has encouraged the state government to address a lack of pandemic-related insurance coverage for live events, as well as the sector’s concerning mental health and uncertainty around snap restrictions.
The Inquiry into the impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on the tourism and events sectors report is the product of a parliamentary inquiry launched earlier this year. The inquiry received roughly 150 submissions, including from the Australian Festivals Association, National Gallery of Victoria, Music Victoria and Live Performance Australia
The committee noted that Victoria’s events sector acknowledges the public health measures taken by the government, such as border closures and lockdowns, were necessary. However, they also threatened the sector’s long-term viability.
“The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the events sector have been wide-ranging and caused significant, ongoing harm,” the report reads, before citing submissions made by members of the sector.
“As events were progressively cancelled from March 2020 onwards, businesses were forced to refund deposits, ticket fees and other critical revenue. Many businesses reported loss of revenue of over 85 per cent in 2020.”
The ongoing issue of insurance coverage was also discussed in depth by the committee, listening to stakeholders that argued it was a necessary service to restore confidence in the sector. Further, insurance brokerage professionals have reportedly predicted a hike in premiums when coverage eventually does return. It pointed to Western Australia and Tasmania as examples of government-backed schemes.
Though the committee recommended the Andrews government “consider the merits of establishing a shared risk underwriting scheme”, it stopped short of recommending a government-backed insurance fund be established.
“The inability to insure against the impacts of COVID-19, particularly the
risks associated with government-imposed health measures, is a major impediment to
the recovery of Victoria’s events sector. The Victorian Government can provide support
to the sector by resolving this issue.”
Elsewhere, the report recommended the government establish an “events industry taskforce” to review its consultation processes with the sector, lobby the Commonwealth for the return of JobKeeper, increase mental health support, and publish guidelines on the types of triggers that would impose or lift venue capacity restrictions.
The report has been presented to parliament, and the Victorian Government has up to six months to provide a response to any recommendations made.