On 2 September 2021, the Senate referred the Live Performance Federal Insurance Guarantee Fund Bill 2021 (the bill) to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 13 October 2021.
On 8 October 2021, the Committee presented a progress report recommending that the Senate grant an extension of time to report until 3 November 2021. On 28 October 2021, the Committee presented a further progress report recommending that the Senate grant an extension of time to report until 19 November 2021.
The referral followed a recommendation from the Selection of Bills Committee which referred the bill in order to seek feedback from stakeholders.
Conduct of the inquiry
Details of the inquiry were advertised on the committee's webpage. The committee wrote to a range of stakeholders inviting them to submit by 15 September 2021. The committee received and published 39 submissions which are listed at Appendix 1 and available on the committee's website. The committee held one public hearing via videoconference on Thursday, 14 October 2021. The list of witnesses who appeared at the hearing is provided at Appendix 2.
The committee thanks submitters and witnesses for their participation in the inquiry.
Note on references
In this report, references to Committee Hansard are to the proof transcript available on the committee's website. Page numbers may vary between proof and official transcripts.
Structure of the report
This report comprises two chapters:
This chapter outlines the background and key provisions of the bill and provides administrative details relating to the inquiry; and
Chapter 2 examines the key issues raised in evidence and provides the committee view and recommendation.
Purpose of the bill
Over the past 18 months a number of live performance events have been cancelled or postponed as a result of public health measures implemented to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. These public health measures include border closures, lockdowns, social distancing requirements and reduced crowd capacities. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the cancellation of events, often at short notice, has resulted in the $112 billion live entertainment industry 'struggling to stay afloat'.
Insurance for pandemic risks is a challenge for many sectors of the economy. Pandemic risks, particularly those relating to business operations, have traditionally been viewed as largely 'uninsurable' by insurers, due to the global spread and magnitude of potential losses and the challenges of modelling the risk and offering coverage at an affordable price.
The live performance sector has previously relied on two forms of insurance; namely event cancellation insurance and business interruption insurance. However, due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated public health measures, live event organisers have been unable to obtain insurance to cover cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without appropriate insurance, it is impossible to plan for live events.
The bill is a private senator's bill introduced on 25 August 2021 by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Australian Greens. The bill would require the Australian Government to establish the Federal Insurance Guarantee Fund which would underwrite an insurance scheme providing coverage for live performance events affected by COVID-19 health measures. This proposed fund looks to stabilise the live entertainment sector as it emerges from the difficulties of the 2020 and 2021 period. Senator Hanson-Young explained:
This bill will provide the arts and entertainment industry some of the certainty they need to start planning for live events and a pathway to a new normal after COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions ease.