5 July 2021

A New Zealand-style national insurer, loans to operators to develop their own mutual funds and an immediate halving of Queensland’s minimum insurance amounts have been floated by Katter’s Australian Party as solutions to the nation’s public liability insurance crisis.

KAP Leader and Member for Traeger Robbie Katter said the public liability insurance sector in Australia was fast approaching total market failure, and that the much-loved country show would be one of the first, and most notable, victims.

Speaking today at the Townsville Show alongside members of the Showmens Guild of Australasia, Mr Katter said agricultural shows across Australia would not survive after 2020 without immediate intervention by State and Federal Governments.

He said in the short-term the Palaszczuk Labor Government could reduce the amount of public liability insurance required for show ride and amusement operators, from $20 million down to $10 million – bringing it in line with most other states.

But he said, ultimately, the Federal Government needed to intervene in the sector to find a sustainable solution.

The KAP is now calling for a parliamentary inquiry, followed by immediate intervention, into the public liability insurance sector in Australia.

“We have known for some time that the public liability insurance sector in Australia was becoming a basket case, but this issue has truly reached breaking point now,” Mr Katter said.

“Show societies themselves are facing some difficultly in accessing insurance, and when they do, the trade-off is exorbitant premium rises which I understand in Queensland were more than 7.5 per cent in the last financial year.

“However, it’s our amusement and recreational operators who are the most at risk – from our discussions with the industry most don’t expect to operate after about October this year.

“They simply cannot find anyone to insure them and legislation dictates that they cannot operate without it.

“It’s an unacceptable state of affairs – not only are people’s livelihoods going to be wiped out but so is this much-loved traditional event that all Aussies love, and particularly so in rural and regional towns where it is often considered the event of the year.”

Mr Katter said the time for action was now.

“The worst, but very likely, case scenario here is that this year’s shows will be the last of their kind,” he said.

“There is no use putting our head in the sand to only wake up next year and half of our events and numerous tourist operations are dead – we need State and Federal Governments to act now.”

KAP Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said while the annual country show was not solely based on rides, the event would not be sustainable long-term without the rides and amusement offerings that drew families through the gates.

“We all like to think we go to the show each year to see Mavis’ scones and John’s speckled cock in the poultry shed, but it’s just not the truth – a lot of families come for the rides and so their kids can get a showbag,” he said.

“Our shows just won’t survive without the show runners.”

Mr Dametto said the issue extended far beyond the show industry, and would impact stand-alone amusement businesses, school fetes and the tourism sector.

“The most difficult part of this problem is that most of these operators who are being forced out of business have rarely, if ever, had to make a public liability insurance claim,” he said.

“They have paid their levies each year, run their businesses safely and successfully, and they are still going to be punished.

“We have already seen victims of this market failure in North Queensland, including tourism operators across the Townsville region affected and the Barra Fun Park that has been forced to close down.

“How are we meant to keep kids of the street and offer up families in the North an enjoyable way of life, when we cannot even provide a regulatory environment that enables these recreational businesses to operate?”

Robbie Katter MP, Jamie Pickett from the Showmen’s Guild and Nick Dametto MP at the Townsville Show.

Nick Dametto MP