November 24, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

The current state opposition, the Liberal-National Coalition, which will go up against Daniel Andrews’ sitting Labor Government at the polls on Saturday, has outlined a comprehensive set of promises for Victoria’s business and major events industry in its policy agenda.

If it wins government on Saturday, the Coalition has promised to re-establish the Victorian Major Events Company as well as setting up Events Victoria, an industry development body, which will support the events ecosystem beyond marketing and not simply for the purposes of tourism.

Another major promise is the launch of a $150 million Local Events Attraction and Development Fund, which micenet understands will support locally grown new and existing public and business events, with an emphasis on events for local benefit and connection, rather than just as visitor attraction mechanisms. micenet understands the fund will also help established Victorian events to move to the next level in their development journey.

There will also be a $10 million business event attraction package to attract and host business and industry events across priority knowledge sectors for Victoria, which include health and medicine, clean energy, rare earths and minerals processing, the creative industries, defence and aerospace and transport, logistics and construction technologies.

The policy document also outlines aims to create an events sector industry-led ministerial taskforce with a direct voice to government, promote Victoria as an exporter of event services and to host a forum in the first 100 days of the next government term for arts, sports and hospitality stakeholders to discuss ideas to restore the state’s visitor and event economy.

The Victorian Labor Party, which is vying for re-election, has not released any overarching policy statements relating to an events industry strategy or sector support, instead highlighting a few specific commitments in the live music space and for certain public events.

Simon Thewlis, one of the founders of grassroots lobbying movement, Save Victorian Events, says the Liberal-Nationals’ support for the industry comes as no surprise, with two Liberal MPs in particular helping Save Victorian Events to have its voice heard in Parliament when the events industry was suffering during the pandemic.

Thewlis says David Davis and David Southwick have both met with members of the Save Victorian Events group many times, beginning in mid-2020, and Davis was instrumental in the establishment of the parliamentary inquiry into the impact of the pandemic on the Victorian events and tourism industries, which took place in 2021.

He says the Labor Party has, to date, been largely unwilling to engage with the group on setting an events strategy for the state.

With his advocacy efforts since the beginning of the pandemic giving him a unqiue perspective, Thewlis believes the Coalition has demonstrated more support for the industry than the sitting Labor Government.

“This policy includes most of what so many of us pushed for over the last two years. It recognises the event industry as an industry in its own right, and as an industry that makes a huge contribution to Victoria, and that can play an even bigger role in Victoria’s future,” he says.

He says the Liberal and Nationals, on paper at least, are presenting a stronger proposition as far as the events industry is concerned for the next term in government.