Mia Davies: Changing rules and lack of clarity hurting regional event organisers

Shannon Verhagen & Jacinta CantatoreCountryman
Mia Davies says Mark McGowan’s government should give more support to regional businesses and events.
Camera IconMia Davies says Mark McGowan’s government should give more support to regional businesses and events. Credit: The West Australian/TheWest

More support is needed for regional businesses and event organisers “struggling” with changing rules amid WA’s Omicron outbreak, according to Opposition leader Mia Davies.

The leader of The Nationals WA on Tuesday slammed the State Government’s communication around COVID-19 rules and restrictions, saying “more should have been done” to enable organisers to safely run events.

It came a day after the Wagin Woolorama committee announced the devastating news that the annual event — scheduled for March 11 and 12 — had been cancelled due to level 2 restrictions being introduced 24 hours earlier to coincide with WA’s hard border being dropped.

President Paul Powell said the decision to cancel the much-loved event — which this year would have celebrated its 50th anniversary — had been made with “deep sadness” and followed a frantic 24 hours of the committee exploring “multiple avenues” to bring it to the community.

However, with the new restrictions in place, the event would be deemed “not safe” and was cancelled.

The devastating news is anticipated to have ripple effects for months to come, with the event — which attracts up to 20,000 visitors — generating vital funds for the agricultural community through accommodation, food and competitions.

“Unfortunately, despite having tried to get detailed health advice, directions and support from government to help them make the decision, it simply wasn’t forthcoming and so they’ve had to make the decision to cancel it because they wanted to make sure that they were keeping their community safe,” Ms Davies said.

“Incidents like this — with the flow-on for all of the stallholders, the local community and the region — go to show that there should have been more done to prepare, knowing that we were going to get to this level of restrictions and knowing that there was going to be events, particularly like the Wagin Woolorama and the Plantagenet Wine Show, that would be impacted.”

Ms Davies said there needed to be greater support for businesses, organisations and community organisers that were struggling with the “constant change of rules” and “lack of clarity”.

“When you make a decision that’s going to impact people’s lives and livelihoods, and you’ve had time to prepare for that knowing that they were going to be required to deal with the Omicron outbreak, there should have been a great deal more support on offer,” she said.

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