Shameful that most in the Arts and Events Industry are refused access to CRSS

Senator Marie Sherlock
29 January 2021

Labour spokesperson on the arts, Senator Marie Sherlock, has criticised the Government’s failure to extend the Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) to sectors without permanent premises. The scheme, introduced to support businesses impacted by the restrictions, focuses narrowly on business with physical premises, excluding an arts and events industry that provides widespread employment throughout the country.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The CRSS is a vital support to businesses throughout the country, and it’s disappointing but not surprising to see that the Government intends to exclude a huge proportion of the workforce from accessing this scheme. Many businesses operating in the arts and events sectors obviously do not have a fixed premise, and are being unnecessarily disadvantaged by the Government.

“These industries have been devastated by the pandemic and unfortunately will not be able to fully re-open until Covid restrictions are lifted and the vaccination role out is complete. This represents another blow to the sector which continues to face extreme financial strain, being effectively out of business since March 2019, and impacting business and workers from AV technicians to caterers, security to signage, cleaners to entertainers, all of whom continue to be ignored by the Government.

“The arts and culture sector is of vital importance to our society. Arts and events workers have some of the lowest paid and precarious working conditions of any sector in our economy. This is wrong in normal times and is wrong in these times too. Just because a sector does not have fixed work environment or is outside the typical parameters of 9-5 or does not mean that it should forgo state support.

“The arts and events sector simply must be supported by Government to survive until it is safe to host events again. This is within the Minister’s gift and can be simply resolved by extending the eligibility criteria for CRSS. We have heard enough platitudes about the importance of the arts which has been a source of much joy and entertainment to the nation throughout the pandemic. We should not be discriminating against a sector simply because it does not have a fixed work environment.”

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