August 11, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

The City of Sydney and the state Member for Sydney are backing industry calls for a national approach to COVID-19 pandemic insurance for the events sector.

Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully is lending her support to the events sector and playing a coordinating role with industry to increase the pressure for a national approach to the insurance impasse.

Currently events in Australia cannot be insured against cancellation due to pandemic restrictions.

She told micenet that it will not be possible to restart the city’s economy unless event organisers can have their financial exposure covered.

”There needs to be a national solution and we need a diverse working group representing the affected sectors to advise on what that insurance product should be,” she said.

All parts of the events industry were experiencing the same kind of paralysis – and what was happening in Sydney was happening across the country hence the need for a national approach, she said.

“From a City of Sydney perspective, events have to be part of the recovery. People know that. If we don’t protect and support the industry, we won’t be able to rebound.

“Now is the time to act, especially if we want to run events through summer. In London, we saw how important it was to have events bringing people together. People will want to come together.”

Scully said in her position as Deputy Lord Mayor she was able to connect the affected sectors and amplify their calls. Her professional background working in creative services has given her a major stake in the COVID-19 impacts on the events industry. She has held positions as curator of TedXSydney and Vivid Ideas and is a regular commentator on The Drum. She uses her position effectively to shine the light on important social, cultural and economic issues.

With insurance not available to protect against the risks associated with event cancellations or postponement due to the pandemic, organisers carry a major financial risk

Councillor Scully brought together a range of stakeholders covering a wide cross section of the events sector from music promoters, festival organisers, business events and the entertainment sector.

At the meeting it was agreed that the City of Sydney and the Member for Sydney would call on the NSW Treasurer to take the matter to the National Cabinet. It was also agreed that a working group should be formed to advise on the features of an insurance product.

Following the meeting with the industry, a letter jointly signed by Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully and Alex Greenwich, Member for Sydney in the NSW Parliament was sent to the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on July 16 asking that the matter be taken to the National Cabinet.

While Scully has heard “some good noises”, there has not been a formal response from the NSW Treasurer. With the UK Government offering live event insurance through its Live Events Reinsurance Scheme from September, it opens the pathway for an Australian solution given that insurers and underwriters operate in a global context.

In its announcement of the scheme, the UK Government said that as the UK economy reopens with the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions, getting the right kind of insurance is acting as a barrier for some events organisers.

“So the (UK) government has partnered with Lloyd’s to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme as part of the Plan for Jobs. The scheme will see the government act as a ‘reinsurer’ – stepping in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need.”

The government-backed insurance scheme is worth over £750 million, according to the Government.

With a UK scheme now in the market, the Australian industry is armed with evidence of the importance of a government-backed solution.

micenet understands that in addition to the advocacy support from Councillor Jess Scully on behalf of all parts of the events sector, the business events sector is also in discussions regarding insurance or an advanced deposit scheme. Stakeholders in this discussion include the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BECA, EEAA and MEA and Live Performance Australia.

Stay tuned.