Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:46): My constituency question is for the Minister for Small Business. The annual Knox Festival for 2021 has been cancelled. This is because of continued restrictions and challenges facing large public events as a result of COVID-19.
The Knox Festival is the largest annual event within this shire and typically attracts around 25 000 people over two days. The festival has many market vendors and would typically be a great day for small business. This a festival that is an uplifting event, filled with carnival rides, kids activities, art, music, dance and poetry.
I have spoken with one of my constituents, Trish, who usually travels around the state selling her products at these markets. These small businesses are often mums and dads who mostly work from home and then head to the markets on the weekend. Without these events, families who rely on these businesses are struggling to put food on the table. Small market vendors are entrepreneurs and contribute to the vibrancy of our community.
Festivals such as the Knox Festival are a celebration of the community and the arts and small business.
My question to the minister is: how will the government work with communities to ensure festivals and markets continue to take place and support the thousands of market vendors and their families?
How will the government work with the communities to ensure festivals and markets can continue to take place and support thousands of market vendors and thei…
Reply from Minister Jaala Pulford 9th April 2021
Public events present a high risk for coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, with many people moving around and interacting with each other. The Victorian Government requires events to be managed in line with COVIDSafe principles to reduce the risk of COVID-19. The Victorian Government’s COVID-19 website offers a range of advice and information for event organisers seeking to hold a public event, including the Public Events Framework.
The Public Events Framework has been created to guide event organisers and venues seeking to operate events above and beyond what is permitted under the Restricted Activity Directions.
Under the framework, events are assessed according to their scale, complexity and associated risk factors to ensure that every event participant, from volunteers through to attendees, are protected from the risk of transmission and can safely enjoy all that Victorian events have to offer. Event organisers are still required to engage with and obtain the necessary approvals from other federal, state and local government bodies.
Further information on this, including a copy of the framework can be found on the Coronavirus Victoria website at coronavirus.vic.gov.au/public-events.
Beyond the Public Events Framework, the Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that all Victorian small businesses impacted by restrictions have access to the support they need to prepare for COVID Normal operations, including businesses that operate in the events sector. This support is flowing to businesses in the form of cash grants, tax relief, skills programs, and mentoring and wellbeing assistance.
On 21 February 2021, the Victorian Government announced the $143 million Circuit Breaker Action Business Support Package to support small businesses, including sole traders, most impacted by the coronavirus circuit breaker action – with hospitality, food wholesaling, tourism, events and selected retail all benefiting from grants.
More broadly, the Victorian Government has provided more than $6 billion in direct economic support for businesses and workers to help them get through the pandemic and recover strongly, including $2.6 billion alone in Business Support Fund grants to 134,000 businesses – more than half of all employing businesses in Victoria.
In the City of Knox, the Business Support Fund provided 4,411 businesses with $44.64 million in total funding, while the Sole Trader Support Fund provided 55 businesses with $165,000 in total funding.