Show organisers hopeful for share in $36m ‘lifeline’ package
WHILE details are yet to be announced, the Gatton Show Society is set to receive a share of the Federal Government’s $36 million package to support agricultural show societies – a funding boost which has been called a “lifeline”.
Trevor Beckingham, Treasurer of the Gatton Show Society and General Manager of Queensland Ag Shows, said regional shows would be able to claim ongoing operational costs such as insurance, rent, telephone, and electricity bills.
“It’s given us a 12-month reprieve, which for a lot of our shows is going to be an absolutely lifeline,” he said.
“They’ve been drought stressed and COVID stressed and a lot of them only have one opportunity a year to recoup their expenses.
“This will allow us to stabilise our position,” Mr Beckingham said, adding that next year’s show would be “bigger and better”.
He said the funding would remove the financial burden for show societies and allow them to focus on what’s important “which is servicing their communities”.
Coronavirus would have been “the death knell” for many regional shows, which wouldn’t have had the capacity to continue.
“Some shows are on the brink, and all of a sudden the weight has been lifted,” he said.
“This means we can soldier on and we can continue to contribute to our community which is what we do.”
The mood has “changed entirely”, Mr Beckingham said, “and people have got a bit more spirit in their voice today which is good”.
“This has lightened the mood already.
“Drought is still a major issues for a lot of our shows, including Gatton, and if we don’t get some rain this was going to be the final straw and potentially the one that broke us.
“Now we can look forward to the future with some hope.”
This year’s show was planned for July 16-18, and will be rescheduled for next year.
“We will be back stronger and better. The show is an integral part of the community because it allows the community to display its wares to the world.
CANCELLED: Gatton Show pulls pin on event
“Gatton is so well placed and it’s one of our top shows in Queensland.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt agricultural shows, with most expected to be cancelled for 2020 in the interest of public health and social distancing measures.
“Agricultural shows are part of the fabric of regional Australia, showcasing everything positive about our communities and local industries,” Mr McCormack said.
“These shows are estimated to contribute $1 billion to the economy each year and attract 6 million patrons annually, supported by 50,000 volunteers.
READ MORE: A new era for the Gatton Show Society
“They create social bonds and improve mental health in parts of regional Australia where distance, drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 have caused significant hardship and distress.”
Minister Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Supporting Agricultural Shows program will provide a one-off reimbursement to agricultural show societies to deal with cash flow pressures caused by COVID-19 related cancellation of agricultural shows.
Articles contributed by Louise Shannon were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas.