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5 April, 2022

Shows launch petition for mandate change

A PETITION has begun in an attempt by agricultural shows to force the State Government to remove the need for them to check whether patrons are vaccinated or not.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo | Dreamstime

Shows like the annual three-day Malanda event are run by a combination of volunteers and community organisations, causing some concern amongst organisers about how the new process will work at a local show. 

The e-petition, which is currently open for signatures, was initiated by the Nambour Showgrounds and calls for the State Government to abolish mandates. 

It currently has more than 6100 signatures. 

“Shows are a crucial element for maintaining community spirit in regional and rural towns. The current directive requires all attendees on site, businesses or otherwise to be vaccinated,” the petition reads. 

“This is a massive economic detriment to the local regions who rely on the income generated from shows, totalling to $141m annually across Queensland.

 “The requirement to vet all who attend a show causes extra strain on the manpower to do so, which impedes the shows income and profitability, not just for this year but also for future years. 

“Shows work on a shoestring budget manned by volunteers and with less patrons, less stall holders, and less income, shows will run at a loss and therefore will not be sustainable.” 

Malanda Show manager Kate Stokes says around 200 volunteers from the community are involved in the three-day event which is one of the biggest shows in the region. 

“The issue is concerning for volunteers because we know that some in the community don’t necessarily agree with the mandate and there may be some backlash from some people,” she said. 

With three entry points to the event, it presented a logistical challenge to have enough volunteers to man all gates, along with the expected additional time that would be required for gatekeepers to check all patrons’ vaccine certificates. 

She said many different types of events were held at the showgrounds but only the show would be required to check for vaccination compliance. 

“It’s an outdoor event so we have minimal people inside buildings and with no such requirement when you go to a market, cattle sales that are held here or equestrian events, we feel the rules are not consistent and ag shows are being discriminated against.” 

Ms Stokes said the mandate rules should be reviewed now, with the Malanda event on 24-26 June to be first cab off the rank for show season. 

“It’s something we have to adhere to at the moment but hopefully it will change by the time our show is on,” she said. 

Mareeba Rodeo president Peter Brown isn’t concerned about enforcing vaccinations as the rodeo will follow the rules set down by the state. 

“At this stage right now, you do have to be vaccinated to attend the rodeo,” he said. 

“We’ve thought about whether we just make it so you have to be double vaccinated to go to our bars but not for everywhere else because they are licenced. 

“There are a range of things we have to try and work out to make it fair for everyone within the rules, double vaccinated or non-vaccinated. 

“As it is right now, you have to be double vaccinated to go to a licenced event, so therefore that is what we’re planning.” 

The Katter Australia Party introduced a Bill to end the mask mandate in Queensland Parliament late last week but it was unsuccessful. 

A Queensland Health spokesperson said the risks from Covid were not over yet, as demonstrated by the increase in the number of cases being reported. 

“Easing restrictions has always been a phased approach and managed sensibly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all Queenslanders,” he said. 

“Vaccination requirements for showgrounds do not specifically target one industry, rather the type of event being held in the community.”

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