Beefed-up security and street bollards required under new anti-terror laws are threatening the future of popular community events, with organisers fearing they may have to divert donations to cover costs.
Research out this week by Roy Morgan shows only one in every 50 Australians counts terrorism as a concern. It’s firmly on the minds of organisers of parades and fun runs, however, as the price of security rules blows event budgets to the point many are now being cancelled.
Guidelines by the Australia-New Zealand Anti-Terror Committee mean events that move must be protected by safety bollards and extra security must be on hand to “reduce the impact of vehicles being used as weapons”.
But the new safety measures cost more than $10,000 – an amount many organisers said is far too great for them to bear.
In regional Victoria, organisers of the annual Bendigo Bank Fun Run have been forced to cancel it for the first time in 12 years after folding under the pressure of financing the extra security.
Bendigo Health Foundation chair Scott Elkington said he was “frustrated” after finding out he may be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars out of the event budget on security.
“Just to pay for the bollards alone we’d need about $20,000, and then 15 semi-trailers and another 40-50 vehicles,” Mr Elkington said.
He said it wasn’t fair to splash the community’s generous donations on extra security measures instead of raising money for the Bendigo Health Foundation.
“It got to the point where the event was starting to look like it was either going to break even or worse, and the costs associated with the anti-terrorism laws were a big part of it,” Mr Elkington told The New Daily.
Despite the setback, the Bendigo Bank Fun Run looks likely to make a comeback.
“I think it’s really important the community wins in this space and not the terrorists,” Mr Elkington said.
“That makes us even more determined to make sure we don’t give up.”
In the small town of Murwillumbah in northeast New South Wales, the annual street parade at the Tweed Vally Banana Festival won’t go ahead either.
For the first time in 64 years, organisers said they were forced to pull the pin after they realised they couldn’t afford the traffic control plan, concrete bollards and guards required to host the popular street parade featuring oversized bananas.
Even powerful Cyclone Yasi in 2011 didn’t stop the parade from going ahead.
Festival co-coordinator Carol Mudge told the ABC the festival could not afford the $10,000 it would cost to meet the ‘hostile vehicle mitigation’ measures.
“It has decimated us,” Ms Mudge said.
She said the banana festival would still go ahead without the parade.
A NSW Police spokesperson, meanwhile, has defended the safety measures.
“Police, council, and event organisers have a duty of care to take all steps to ensure the safety of attendees,” the spokesperson told The New Daily.
“As with any major event, police conduct security assessments, implement traffic management plans, and provide advice to event organisers and other relevant agencies, to ensure the safety and security of participants, volunteers and the wider community.”
The new anti-terror regulations follows a series of deadly vehicle-ramming attacks around the world, such as the 2016 Nice terror attack in which a cargo truck was used to plough into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the south of France.
Last week in the United States, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who killed a woman by crashing his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, 2017 was given a life sentence.