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07 July 2021

Our showmen and women spend their life travelling around Australia, bringing fun and entertainment to our rural and regional towns and big city shows.
The operators are small, family-owned and run businesses, which are a unique and celebrated part of Australia's cultural fabric.
The businesses have been passed down through a family name for up to six generations.
Every year, there are 580 agricultural shows run across Australia, plus many smaller events.
It's an industry that supports 4000 jobs nationwide and keeps Australia entertained.
It's also an industry that pumps $1 billion into Australia's economy each year, including almost $100 million into regional and rural communities.
Whether it's at one of the big, well-known events like the royal shows in Perth, Sydney or Melbourne, or the smaller agricultural shows in rural and regional Australia, this is an industry that has kept Australia entertained for a century.
For well over a year, I have been speaking regularly to travelling showman guilds across the country, including the Showmen's Guild of Australasia and the Victorian Showmen's Guild.
As the pandemic first swept through Australia, our agricultural shows, like so many businesses in the hospitality and entertainment industry, came to a standstill.
Many of the shows and rodeos were cancelled and some operators were forced to shut down as rents crippled them.
In Western Australia, the top events body, Events Industry Association, said 90 per cent of its 600-strong membership base had lost 100 per cent of their income in the first lockdowns of 2020.
The Victorian Guild informed me the industry was ineligible to access many State and Federal grants, despite sharing many characteristics of the successful recipients.
This meant that not only was the entire industry at risk, but the hard-working men and women's livelihoods were on the chopping block.
They were at risk of falling through the cracks.
I reached out to colleagues across the Federal, State and political divide to find a solution.
The Federal Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, answered the call and stepped up to work with me. This wasn't a case of party politics.
As a result, it was fantastic to see $4.3 million allocated to the travelling showmen and show-women in the recent Federal Budget.
The funding will provide rent relief at agricultural shows, so that the showmen and show-women can continue to provide entertainment and services.
It's rare that we get to find real bipartisan solutions, but we were able to achieve this.
But the industry still needs us. Now more than ever.
The showmen and women face a new obstacle keeping the show on the road with backing from the insurance industry.
The workers in our carnival industry are salt of the earth.
They work as a close-knit community. It's been incredibly tough out there for them as we continue to face more lockdowns, even after the rough year that was 2020.
The showmen have been left devastated by news they are now at risk of being uninsured.
Australia's last two insurers offering public liability insurance for the industry have departed the local market.
This means our show operators can't get the $20 million public liability insurance to open and operate rides at our shows.
For the everyday Australian, especially children and young people who absolutely love the entertainment our show people bring into town, it means no more rides, no more show bags.
They need insurance to keep punters safe and, tragically, if the operators can't get public liability insurance, it will be the death knell of this industry.
But it's more than just no rollercoaster rides. This is people's lives.
Unless we do something to help. Some of the people I have spoken to include Justine Sinclair, the chief executive of the Showmen's Guild of Australasia, Les "Chippa" Champ, a third-generation showman from Victoria, and Elwin Bell, who is currently working the shows up the NT's Stuart Highway, from Darwin to Katherine, to Tennant Creek and to Alice Springs. They told me many of the operators' insurance is either already up or soon to be.
What they want is to be able to set up a mutual insurer with Government funding.
Mutual public liability insurance funds are not a new concept and with such an established industry it makes perfect sense to back them in.
What we need now is a Government commitment to assist our Aussie amusement industry getting onshore insurance. There has been clear and present market failure we now need a mutual insurer.
The private insurance sector is not going to ride to the rescue without Government intervention.
The Government can assist, and I am for a commitment to back up this industry.
This is a crisis that can be averted.
The show must go on.
This was first published in The West Australian on Wednesday, 7 July 2021.