The Nationals seek lifeline for local events

The Nationals are calling for a comprehensive plan to revive local events in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said Gippsland’s events sector had been left devastated by a perfect storm of lockdowns, heavy restrictions on public gatherings and strict eligibility criteria over the past 18 months.

As a result, The Nationals have worked in partnership with events industry stakeholders to develop a Local Events Recovery Plan.

“Daniel Andrews’ roadmap has been heavily criticised for creating greater uncertainty for the events sector by adding further barriers that make restarting incredibly difficult,” said Ms Bath.

“The Andrews Government has created an enormous cost and logistical impost for local events to become ‘CovidSafe’.

“Kick start funding to help our local events get back on their feet along with financial support for cancellation insurance is desperately needed.

“Gippsland would be much poorer if renowned local events such as the Boolarra Folk Festival, Warragul Winterfest and Lantern Parade, Maltese Fiesta or Morwell’s International Rose Garden Festival couldn’t return – they and many others form part of our soul and local identity.

“Local events deliver real economic value – an assessment of the Boolarra Folk Festival alone demonstrated $1 million in value injected into the Latrobe Valley’s economy.

“Local events need the certainty and confidence to keep running which includes sensible density limits and financial support.”

Ms Bath said she had been in dialogue with local community groups who previously hosted events in Gippsland – it’s clear there is significant stress around meeting the state government’s event CovidSafe operating guidelines.

“Instead of putting up roadblocks, the Andrews Government should be developing a workable path forward and providing necessary recovery funding,” said Ms Bath.

“The Andrews Government’s event management rules are prohibitive and community groups are justifiably concerned.

“The Nationals comprehensive new plan seeks to remove financial barriers, reopen and rebuild the local events industry to put smiles back on the faces of our community.

“There is a genuine hesitancy and loss of confidence driven by the fact the government could cancel your event at any time, at short notice.

“Gippsland previously boasted a full calendar of events which showcased our dynamic and picturesque region – the Andrews Government must match The Nationals plan so regional events survive and thrive in the future.”