Every second year an outback Queensland town of just 800 people sees thousands of tourists flock to its dry, red-dirt landscape to watch locals racing portaloos.
- Quirky outback events are becoming more difficult to insure, event organisers say
- Insurers without local knowledge often deem the events too risky
- Queensland’s peak tourism industry body says the government should guarantee insurance
Winton’s dunny derby is one of dozens of weird but wonderful events in western Queensland that keep tourists raving as they brave the 15-hour drive back to Brisbane.
But the fun of quirky outback events could be flushed away as increasing insurance costs and red tape threaten their survival.
In Longreach, an inflatable duck racing event was almost thrown into disarray as it struggled to secure insurance in the weeks leading up to the event this month.
“Insurance was a bit of a nightmare,” event organiser Prue Button said.
“We had to get event insurance for the rest of event. However, there was lots of exclusions.
“All of the contractors we dealt with for the paddle regatta, they also had a lot of trouble securing insurance.”
‘Insurers don’t want to look at events’
Outback Festival event organiser Robyn Stephens, who has been volunteering with the festival for more than 30 years, feels the continual running of events will be jeopardised if insurance becomes any more problematic.
“When it comes down to the public liability side of an event, I am finding it now very, very difficult,” she said.
“There’s a lot of insurers out there that don’t want to look at events. They seem to think that there’s risks in a lot of our events where we don’t see them.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) chief executive Daniel Gschwind said insurance assessments for outback events were often done in cities far away by people without local understanding.
“In some cases tourism or tourism activities and events, to insurance companies, are just a little bit messy and uncertain and they perhaps don’t understand it fully,” he said.
“As a consequence they attach a high-risk premium to those activities.
Important to keep events alive
There is no easy fix to event insurance woes, but QTIC is advocating for the federal government to play a larger role in ensuring insurance can be secured by community event operators.
One option is for government to guarantee insurance for events, similar to their reinsurance pool for homes in northern Australia.
“Perhaps we have to come together as an industry, with government, to establish insurance pools for certain activities like events,” Mr Gschwind said.
“There are options, but it’s a really concerted efforts that’s required here with particularly federal government and industry [assistance].
“We are certainly hoping we will find some solutions.”