COVID-19 and Sydney Events

COVID-19 and Sydney Events

(Question Time, 9 February 2021, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is directed to the Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney. How is the New South Wales Government supporting Sydney's economic recovery with major events, including Sydney WorldPride in 2023?

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney's Reply: 

I thank the member for Sydney for his question. He specifically referenced the importance of events to the economy, particularly the WorldPride event; I know he played a very important but incredibly passionate role in securing it for Sydney. The year 2020 was incredibly disruptive—almost destructive—for the tourism sector in New South Wales. As the Government goes about the practice of rebuilding our tourism economy and bringing confidence back, it is so critical that those future signature events be a marker in the ground for the entire tourism sector to work towards.

When WorldPride comes to Sydney in the first quarter of 2023 it will be an optimal time for the State to be aiming towards a signature event. The Government is building on the wonderful legacy of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with the WorldPride 2023 event, which will celebrate the LGBTQI community around the world. The event will also play an incredibly important role in the Asia Pacific region. It will be the first time the event has come to the Asia Pacific and it will inject over $100 million worth of visitor economy activity into the community. It will be quite a sizeable event and will operate across a number of different activities. There will be a human rights and health conference held at the ICC, the WorldPride march, the First Nations hub, a gala concert, a ball, the Bondi Beach party, a range of sporting events, and opening and closing ceremonies. It has been a signature event on the Sydney calendar for many years and will be a fantastic celebration. It will also build on the fantastic work Australia has done on human rights: The country has taken a lead and will continue to take a lead. I thank the member for Sydney for his leadership in this space and for his work in bringing this wonderful event to Sydney.

The event builds on the visitor economy strategy the Government released at the end of last year, where events continue to play an absolutely critical role. At the start of this year, Sydney was leading the way, particularly when it came to reopening theatre spaces;Frozen has been operating in Sydney and just around the cornerHamilton will be coming to theatres. Sydney is the only place in the world where those global shows are actually available. It was fantastic to have someone like Thomas Schumacher, the head of Disney's global theatrical services, talk about the leading role of Sydney and the way the Government managed the COVID crisis, which allowed Disney to bring its productions here and let people across Australia access them. At the Art Gallery of New South Wales theStreeton exhibition has been running, which is a fantastic opportunity for people to come to the city and support a number of small businesses.

Just around the corner the Government is also pushing into regional New South Wales. Next year will be the UCI Road World Championships; it is a huge event and it is going to Wollongong. For members who have got some idea about cycling, the biggest event in the world is the Tour de France, which happens every single year. Every few years when the Road World Championships is run, it is as big as the Tour de France or bigger. It will be huge and a fantastic opportunity to support the Wollongong economy with a genuinely global event. The Government is also pushing out towards Bathurst with the World Athletic Cross Country Championships; it will be a great opportunity to get out there. Wollongong will have the cycling and the cross country will be going to Bathurst. One of the other things that the Government has been able to do is ensure that throughout the course of 2021 we can hold Vivid. The decision was made early on to not have Vivid in the first half of 2021 and to push it back to August, and now that looks like an incredibly sensible decision, particularly as the economy starts to recover from the COVID pandemic.

The Government also saw an opportunity to take full advantage of the assets New South Wales has, with the Sydney cricket test happening. Just as the State needed a bounce off the back of the Avalon COVID cluster, the Government was able to put that test match together, get crowds into the game and give Sydneysiders the confidence to start the new year. It was great to then be able to follow that up with the wonderful success of the Sydney Sixers and the Big Bash Final—also having a crowd. Whether it is sporting matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground, WorldPride in 2023, lighting up Wollongong with the world's best cyclists or the cross country runners going out to Bathurst, it is absolutely critical that through the delivery of the visitor economy strategy as well as the work being done to support events the Government continues to drive the jobs growth that the Treasurer spoke about in his previous answer. [Extension of time]

It is critical that the Government continues to get that unemployment rate down and that participation rate up. We know that the visitor economy has been substantially damaged by what has happened with COVID, with the restrictions to borders and the inability of businesses to move around the country. There has never been a more important time for this Government and this Parliament to back in our visitor economy sector, and the best way to do that is by supporting events.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!