Thursday, 3 December 2020
COVID-19: Country Shows
Hot off the press! We all know that COVID-19 has created a lot of issues throughout Australia and particularly with country shows. In my electorate of Grey, not one of our country shows was able to operate this year. So I'm pretty happy to announce that 18 of them plus the Eyre Peninsula Field Day—which is a very big biennial event held on Eyre Peninsula; the other big field day in South Australia is held in the other second year on the York Peninsula—will receive $70,000 of assistance. Eighteen other shows will receive $1,500 to $15,000 to recognise the costs that they are incurring in their off year, if you like. Just because you're not actually operating the show doesn't mean to say that the bills are not still mounting up on building maintenance, electricity and administration costs. The government put in place a package to support these country shows so that they can be there for the next year.
Next year, the Crystal Brook Show, which I think is the oldest operating show in my electorate—but somebody will probably get on the blower straight after I give this speech and tell me that I'm in error—will have been operating for 147 years. Obviously 2024 will be a really big year, as we go for 150. Through my lifetime I've seen a number of shows disappear. They don't seem to come back. But the ones that are left have all really focused on change and being able to adapt to a new world. People don't grow vegetables in their garden and exhibit them like we used to; we don't see home butchery; we don't see sausages and bacon made by farmers—all the things that I remember seeing when I was a young fellow. Those things are not happening so much anymore, and they're now more focused on the things that are relevant to the communities in which they live. Of course, the equestrian events are big; whereas the sheep pavilions are pretty scant on most occasions now because of the restrictions around biosecurity and whatever. Having said that, we've just seen a large shed built on the back of an investment from the Commonwealth government at the Jamestown Show, where there is a significant sheering competition and still a concentration on sheep.
So each show is adapting to the environment in which they live. They're still a very important part of our local communities, and I feel a little sad for those that have passed them up. I don't think they can get them back. In every page, I will argue for the support that they need to continue their work in their communities, because they do bring communities together. They even bring the volunteer community together. In my hometown of Kimba, in fact, we have a grey nomad volunteer base of Queenslanders running the gate, and I've actually even met them on the gate in Kimba.