January 5, 2012
The argument for government funding of major events
During a discussion today the subject of taxpayer funding for major events was raised. The arguments for and against were similar to those raised on air and in the print media. I was then asked, ‘What do you think?’
It is sometimes not appropriate to offer one’s view to these sorts of issues. Anyway, here goes!
I remember many years ago I was taught (and became a firm believer) that the key economic driver in our economy is the creation of wealth and that it is government’s role to encourage that activity and, through the tax system, to distribute that wealth through services such as education, police and health. Put simply, without wealth generation there is no money to pay for education, police and health.
Our major events provide an opportunity for locals, those living in other parts of the state and those from interstate to get together and enjoy the event. This enjoyment involves paying the direct and indirect costs of the experience – the travel, the accommodation, the daily living costs as well as any entry costs. This money goes into the economy, creates wealth from which the government takes it taxes to pay for education, police and health.
If we do not have these events in Tasmania, we will spend our money on experiences in other places. We will go elsewhere to enjoy a game of AFL or a show and while we are there do some shopping as well. The result is money spent elsewhere and less reasons for people to visit Tasmania and spend their money.
I think the question is not whether government supports our major events, it is choosing those events to support and encourage. The issue of public acceptability is in the way government sells its involvement. The wealth generated and the amount available for distribution in services such as education, police and health is an essential part of assessment and information provided to the public.