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Can you imagine the Orange Show without rides, clown faces and that mallet whacking game?

Stock image of a Ferris wheel.

By Peter Holmes

What's an agricultural show without dodgem cars, Bertie Beetle bags, clown faces, a Ferris wheel, thrill rides and that thing where you whack a steel plate with a mallet, put your shoulder out and never, ever win a prize?

Well, we may be about to find out, according to fifth generation showman Aaron Pink, who is president of The Showmen's Guild of Australasia.

Pink told The Orange News Examiner that only one insurer - Coversure - was currently offering policies for the leisure, amusement and tourism category. In recent times he's heard of premiums for showies tripling in cost, which he says is unsustainable.

So although the operators attending the 150th Orange Show on Saturday are insured and rides and other sideshow alley attractions will be open, Pink says there is significant doubt about whether the premium rises can be absorbed into the future.

Show people can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in carnival attractions that travel the nation.

Before they are allowed to present their wares at agricultural shows the operators must prove they are fully insured.

A poster for Orange Show.

To become fully insured, the operators of rides must employ the services of a contractor qualified in assessing such rides and other apparatus for safety. Pink says he's been told of assessors facing six-fold premium increases.

"How can they afford that?" he asked.

Without insurance, the vast inventory of rides and games would sit idle. And such expensive pieces of kit can't afford to sit idle. They need to earn their keep by working, creating fun. It's a numbers game and the margins, says Pink, are tight.

Pink won't be in Orange for the show as he's heading directly from the Hawkesbury show to the one in Wellington.

He says the federal government has not come good on creating what is known as a Discretionary Mutual Fund (DMF), which would provide insurance for the industry.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise ombudsman (ASBFEO), Bruce Billson, released his final report into the insurance crisis in December 2021.

"The report, The Show Must Go On, finds a Discretionary Mutual Fund (DMF) is the most practical and durable solution to enable the amusement, leisure and recreation sector to remain operational in a hardened global insurance market," said a statement at the time from ASBFEO.

In the same release Billson said: "Right now, there is a very real possibility the show cannot go on if small businesses in the amusement and recreation sector cannot get the essential risk protection they need to operate.

Stock image.

“This inability to secure insurance coverage puts thousands of jobs at risk and means many of the attractions people know and love are on the brink of being a thing of the past.

“The clear and present danger is real. If these businesses cannot secure risk protection, they face imminent closure and that will lead to significant job losses (particularly in regional areas) and a loss of economic activity generated by metro and regional shows and amusement parks."

A spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Australia told the ABC in May 2021: "We are working with other industry associations to find solutions to the issue of affordability and availability of public liability for tourism, leisure and some other higher-risk business sectors."

Submitting for liability insurance with Coversure in the amusement, leisure and tourism category is no small task and requires elements including:

1. Risk management assessment for the business highlighting high, medium and low risks associated with the business and how there are resolved with documented reference to business operations manual, policies and procedures ... [it] should consider issues arising from WH&S, weather, regulatory compliance, Australian Standards compliance, staff training, emergency and evacuation protocols, access to first responders, crowd control (including domestic violence), drugs and alcohol;

2. Evidence of an operational plan and processes documented from the risk management assessment;

3. Training schedules or other documentation to evidence implementation of risk management, operational plans together with other upskilling and compliance training of staff;

4. Evidence of operational compliance and maintenance with provision of completed examples of checklists and logs.

5. Five years documented claims history on an underwriters or TPA’s letterhead including paid and reserve amounts


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