May 26, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio

With the 2022 federal election now done and dusted – and some game-changing results for the nation, what can we expect from the Albanese Government in relation to the visitor economy and business events?

One thing for certain is that the challenges for the business events sector have now multiplied.

Not because there are detrimental policies but because the business events sector will have to start from scratch to educate and pitch the merits of the sector to the new Government and all those members of parliament who will exercise their influence after being elected by their constituencies.

The business events lobby has worked the halls of parliament focussing on the major parties, with some efforts made on targeting the minor parties and cross bench.

Getting our voice heard in the sea of industries that will be wanting to establish their presence in the eyes of the new government will take a mighty effort.

In our industry, many people have worked hard over many years in a volunteer capacity to advocate for business events, while also running their own organisations. While this is commendable, it is not enough. The collaboration has been positive, but it’s time for more than this. It’s time to invest in the future of the industry. If COVID has taught us anything it’s that – like it or not – we simply haven’t got the cut-through we need with governments to drive meaningful change efficiently, even when the industry was in a state of disaster. We are getting somewhere with government, but it’s not fast enough.

Strong advocacy needs resourcing. It needs research. It needs electorate-by-electorate knowledge and, in election environments, strong advocacy which dials into local campaigning. What that means is profiling the electorates in which the business events sector has impact – generating investment, employment and economic impact.

All those seats that have major venues for business events or airports or employers that manufacture signage or design technology or make and grow food or deliver transport and other services for business events.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australia (TTF) produced a powerful and illuminating Tourism Employment Atlas years back which proved to be an effective research resource that underpinned that organisation’s policy work and campaigning. It can be done.

During COVID and the years of lockdowns and border closures, our industry suffered so much. The first to close, the last to open. Ripped to shreds. Yes, we are slowly rebuilding, but there have been huge losses both monetary and in human resources.

I feel buoyed by the change that occurred over the weekend. I feel buoyed because it shows it is possible to make change. To be heard. To set on a new course. New people, new blood, new energy and new skills – and clearly more women at the table. A big commitment to the First Australians and the environment. The “teal” candidates and the Greens are very important in the mix and our industry has a big job ahead getting to know the new government.

For the business events sector it’s going to be a big hill to climb. But it can be done.

Albanese understands the importance of the visitor economy – he understands aviation in particular. He understands the importance of investing in infrastructure around the nation.

But the government is more than Anthony Albanese. It is made up of a wide range of people who have different takes on policy and Australia’s future. Apart from the political arm of government, there will also be new people in the key agencies, and they need to be educated about the industry.

If the business events sector wants to be a player in that future, it needs a mightily different level of investment and commitment to industry representation. It also needs to give a greater share of voice to the smaller players in the industry – the family businesses and sole operators who contribute so much. That will resonate with the new government.

Advocacy for the sector is critical at all levels of government – federal, state and local and with the major organisations that have influence like the “think tanks” and chambers of commerce.

Our industry needs a fresh pitch – compelling, fresh, focussed and through a properly resourced peak body.