Rides will ground to a halt at country shows in Queensland this weekend as part of an awareness campaign by the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA) and the Showmen's Guilds of Australia as they continue to feel the pinch of increased insurance premiums.
Following a ride stop at Hawkesbury Show in NSW last weekend, Australia's largest regional show, operators plan to highlight the consequences of an insurance market with meteoric premium rises and to put the spotlight on the federal government's reneging on promised support.
Showmen's Guild of Australasia president, Aaron Pink, said rocketing insurance premiums during the past 18 to 24 months, combined with only one insurance provider in the marketplace, has forced increases of 300 to 400 per cent in the past 12 months.
"In some cases, there were rises were up to 800 per cent in August last year," he said.
Mr Pink said the insurance crisis could be the death knell for the amusement and leisure industry and he believes that unless a solution is found it will change the face of country shows forever.
He said government support had boosted the industry with about $8 million in funding, but talks to establish a mutual guarantee that had been evolving over a 14-month period collapsed at the 11th hour prior to the last federal budget.
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Of greater concern to the Guild is that there is only one provider for insurance in the industry.
He said the sole provider had pulled out of the market once, which left the Guild without any insurance cover, and when the company re-entered the market, premiums began to escalate rapidly.
Mr Pink is part of an organisation that will be setting up at eight shows across NSW and Queensland this weekend.
Its members run everything from dodgem cars to a range of other amusements and he said the impost with the rises would mean he'll now be paying premiums between $12,000 and $20,000 a year.
Its going to be a sad old day when there are country shows with no rides or amusements.- Showmen's Guild of Australasia president, Aaron Pink
"All we want to do is to put smiles on the faces of the kids and to create enduring memories," he said.
"It's going to be a sad old day when there are country shows with no rides or amusements."
Agricultural Societies Council (ASC) of NSW president Tim Capp said his organisation was aware of the ongoing problems facing the Showmen's Guild.
"We are trying to support the Guild as much as we can because we know our ASC members want them at their shows for their entertainment," he said.
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