Queensland Senator, Susan McDonald, has awarded the blue ribbon to Show societies throughout Queensland after they were successful in securing $36 million in extra funding to help them rebound after the coronavirus crisis.
Senator McDonald, formerly on the board of Brisbane’s Ekka before entering Parliament, officially opened the Agricultural Shows of Australia inaugural conference on the Gold Coast in January.
She said she had relentlessly lobbied Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, to make more funding available to Show societies after an earlier $20 million grants program was greatly oversubscribed and many societies missed out.
“Shows are the lifeblood of regional communities, we have public holidays to celebrate them and they contribute greatly to locals economies,” she said.
“They are an important way to connect the city and the country so people in our cities get a taste of the important job our farmers do in supplying our country, and the world, with clean, green, sustainable produce.
“They have always been a very visible symbol of district pride and toughness. Of overcoming adversity. Of ingenuity, mateship and community spirit.
“Show societies represent the largest volunteer organisation in Australia, and everyone should know about the hours and hours of unpaid work going on in this sector all over Australia.
“As much as we wish there was a magic wand that could make it all happen, it’s the passion and dedication of volunteers that puts the smiles on so many faces, young and old.
“There’s no doubt many of our Shows will still be feeling the effects of drought, floods and fires in 2019, and this was followed by Covid-19, so this funding is much needed and very timely.
“I am proud that our government sees the merit of boosting these terrific local events.”
Minister for 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.
“This funding supports not only the big Royal Shows in each capital but right down to the small country show, because we acknowledge the role shows play in connecting agriculture and regional Australia to metropolitan Australians,” he said.
“There is a real risk that if we don’t help that not only could Royal Shows cease to function the way they are now but also those small shows all of which are run by volunteers could fold.
“In addition, $100,000 will go towards supporting the Agricultural Shows Australia rural ambassador program, which will enable the vital community work the ambassadors perform in regional Australia to continue.”
The $36 million comprises three components:
• $10 million in operational support for local show societies. Shows will be able to claim up to $10,000 if their attendance last year was less than 2,000, up to $15,000 if their attendance was between 2,000 and 4,999 and up to $70,000 if their attendance was over 5,000.
• $26 million in operational support for Royal Agricultural Show societies which can additionally to claim for unrecoverable costs associated with preparing for the cancelled show.
• $100,000 in operational support for Agricultural Shows Australia’s Rural ambassador program.
All agricultural shows that have cancelled their show in 2020 because of COVID-19 will be eligible and they will not have to compete for assistance.
Eligible reimbursement costs are expected to include: Bank fees, utilities, rates, insurance, fire alarms and equipment, cleaning supplies, telecommunications, IT system licencing costs, website costs, state/national show body affiliation fees and rent.