August 3, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo | Image: Peter Jones was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Event Awards in 2016 for his contribution to the events industry over the years | Credit: EventPix

Event specialist Peter Jones AM lost three big jobs last week – the AFL Grand Final Parade which he’s done for 23 years and two special Australian Olympic dinners in Melbourne and Sydney.

He describes it as “all a bit of a roller coaster… we’re alright down here at the moment but that doesn’t mean it will be OK at four o’clock this afternoon”.

He says he’s hearing from across his network of suppliers that many of them have lost significant business across multiple states due to current and recent lockdowns.

“It then just flows through. There is no answer to any of this until you get to the vaccination level that they deem they will open everything up from there.”

Jones says so many people have left the industry already, “particularly the one-man-bands, a lot of those have literally given up and gone and looked for work elsewhere”.  As a result, staff and suppliers are hard to find.

When Sydney went into lockdown it had a definite impact on Melbourne he says, “because you can’t have the two biggest cities locked down and Sydney is the basket case now for the foreseeable future. I would think their only way out now is vaccination levels”.

His company has not produced an event since the last weekend of May. “Our next event will be the end of September. But October, November, December are busy because half a dozen events were supposed to happen between May and now, well they have all been pushed back.

“It is just the unknown that is causing all the grief. You’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope that there’s not an outbreak.”

The AFL Grand Final parade in Melbourne is a public event that Jones has delivered for 23 years but in the current climate he acknowledges the only way they could do it now was to make it a ticketed event at Marvel Stadium to enable social distancing and contact tracing.

“There will be no other public event in Melbourne, Sydney or anywhere for the rest of the year unless you can contact trace, so they are all out.”

He said there was huge momentum for an event to celebrate the success of the Australian Olympic team when they returned home.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is a client of Jones’ and asked about some event celebrating Australia’s Olympic team on their return. He says they’re in talks at the moment.

“I am literally having that discussion right now…if it’s going to happen, I will be doing it and I will know in the next 48 hours. It won’t be a parade but there will be an event.”

Asked about future events Jones says, “Melbourne Cup will happen with restricted numbers because that is all local, there’s no international travel; the [Australian Open] tennis is the next big one because that’s early January and they need to know whether that is a goer by the end of September, because the players won’t come back and isolate for two weeks.”