Agricultural events without compensation are on the edge of the COVID abyss

Daniel Andrews must pay for the trail of financial disaster his latest snap lockdown has left across regional Victoria – not just the people thrown out of work but also major regional events killed off without any warning.

The Nationals Leader Peter Walsh said the Australian Sheep and Wool show at Bendigo, the largest event of its type in the world, was to open on Friday.

“Exhibitors, stall holders, sponsors and advertisers put a year’s work into absolutely nothing – and there has been no sign of any kind of compensation,” he said.

“This show has run for 140 years and has disappeared under a wave of Labor party self-congratulation that they finally found a COVID case in regional Victoria to justify locking up the whole state.

“And the buck won’t stop here, Speed Machinery Field Days (August 4/5) and Hamilton Sheepvention (July 31/August 3) must also now be on the chopping block; and Elmore (October 5/7), which got canned last year, is also looking unlikely.”

Mr Walsh said the Bendigo event plays a pivotal role for many agricultural businesses, allowing them to showcase their products to producers, livestock sales, judging of stock and wool products and to generate much-needed income for the local economy.

He said the snap decision has thrown the event and site holders into disarray and hundreds of thousands of dollars already spent needs to be made up somewhere.

“Agricultural events across Victoria are already on their knees after being postponed through 2020 and again this year,” Mr Walsh added.

“The very existence of many of these agricultural shows now depends on the Andrews Labor Government providing certainty to go ahead,” he said.

“With other agricultural shows, such as Sheepvention, scheduled to start later this month, the Victorian Government must immediately offer clear advice and support to event organisers.

“Daniel Andrews needs to provide a plan and a pathway for these industry events to operate with confidence, the continued uncertainty is not just causing financial pain and confusion now, it is threatening the ability of many of these events to survive beyond 2021 if they cannot recoup money already spent.

“If these events are shut down due to COVID outbreaks, then the Andrews Labor Government has no choice; it must offer financial assistance to the organisers so we don’t see the end of these trade shows.”

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