Admin conflict results in festival obliteration

In Attractions, Australian Cultural Exports, Australian Domestic Tourism, Business Resources, Community, Customer Service, Featured Home Page News, Government, Harmonisation, Media and Communications, Momentum, National Headlines, Tasmania

TTN, 9th March 2023: Thousands of tourists and many stallholders are out of pocket after Tasmania’s Entally House cancelled its weekend GardenFest on the Friday afternoon eve of the festival.

ASIC cancelled the managing company’s registration the year prior; the managing company later said that as it found out it wasn’t to be covered by insurance, they cancelled the event.

The ABC report below fails to get at the most important question though – why was the managing company deregistered by ASIC? Directors were notified, they continued to operate as it suited them, by organising the festival; the company was able to reinstate the registration within a few days.

So why was the company deregistered in the first place? ASIC sure doesn’t deregister companies for fun. There may be a simple administrative explanation; there may be an extremely serious liability reason, with consequences as dire as the the 2021 Hillcrest Primary School accident.

The ABC receives AUD$881 million in Australian federal funding per year. For that price, we might assume that the two people reported to have published this story – Monte Bovill and Bec Pridham – may between them have asked the question with the greatest ongoing real impact on the tourism industry. Bovill and Pridham could just be youthful social media content producers, or they could be seasoned journalists, next in line for roles at 7.30.

Whyever the ABC story neglected the most important question in the story – the onus is on upper management. Huge expanses of Australian community are covered only by the ABC and Rupert Murdoch’s media. Murdoch’s media is behind a paywall, Australian tax payers pay for the ABC.

Maybe the reportage problems within the ABC are predictable and preventable. For example, the image supplied for the story is supplied by Entally Estate. It doesn’t take an MBA to realise that uninterested workers will not then grill the image supplier on details a supplier might prefer to evade.

Without some Blackbox Thinking – methodically surveying what makes things go catastrophically wrong – we can expect no improvement in Australian tourism operations, Australian reporting of business news, and no help from the ABC to ensure the tourism industry can be as productive as it needs to be.

Veronica Hope

Gardenfest at historic Entally House cancelled hours before it begins amid business deregistration

By Monte Bovill and Bec Pridham

From abc.net.au,

A “clerical error” that saw the company holding the lease of a historic Tasmanian property become deregistered is being blamed for the last-minute cancellation of a popular event at the site.

Entally House at Hadspen in the state’s north was built in 1819, with the historic site home to Australia’s oldest conservatory.

The property was to host its biannual event Gardenfest — which attracts thousands of people — last weekend, but it was abruptly cancelled on Friday afternoon due to what organisers said were “unforeseen circumstances”.

The Tasmanian government has owned the estate since 1948, and has leased it to a company owned by Rob Sherrard since 2015.

Mr Sherrard, along with Brett Godfrey — who is also listed as a lessee on the official Entally Estate website, conceptualised what became the Virgin Australia airline and have also invested in several other Tasmanian ventures, including Quamby Estate, the Low Head Pilot Station and the Tasmanian Walking Company.

A Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) spokesperson said the company — Entally Lodge Pty Ltd — cancelled Gardenfest “due to matters relating to its own administrative arrangements”.

The ABC understands the issue relates to the company being deregistered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in November, before it had its Australian Business Number cancelled in December.

Both Mr Sherrard and Mr Godfrey were contacted.

People walking in the garden.
Some stallholders had anticipated a $5,000 profit from the weekend.(Supplied: Entally Estate)

The company’s general operations manager Shane Smith said Gardenfest was cancelled due to an “unfortunate clerical error” that prevented it from correctly insuring the event.

“It had come to our attention that we weren’t going to be able to be compliant with our insurance, there was a clerical error that occurred and [it’s] just unfortunate that we couldn’t proceed,” he said.

“We tried until the 11th hour to be able to push through with the event, but we just couldn’t get across the line.”

Autumn leaves fall from trees in front of a historic house
The estate is normally open to the public every week and is popular as a wedding venue.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

When asked whether Gardenfest was allowed to take place given the business had been deregistered and the ABN cancelled, Mr Smith said: “Well, we wouldn’t have been, I’d assume.”

He said the clerical error had since been rectified and that Entally was planning to hold another event in November.

He did not respond when asked if the estate would be open to the public on Wednesday, but the ABC has confirmed the property is closed with no known reopening date.

Under Federal legislation, ASIC takes control of a deregistered company’s property.

Profits ‘obliterated’ for stallholders

The Devil’s Own Ice Creamery owner Martin Hamilton was one of dozens of stallholders put out by the sudden cancellation of Gardenfest.

He said he only found out the afternoon before through another stallholder.

Mr Hamilton said he contacted Entally to find out why and was told it was due to a leasing issue with the PWS — which PWS said was not the case.

The ABC spoke to multiple stallholders who said Entally gave them the same reason, but Entally has denied this occurred.

Mr Hamilton had anticipated a $5,000 profit from the weekend.

“That’s now just obliterated,” he said.

“It’s very, very frustrating.”

Factoring in hundreds of dollars in unmovable stock and paying staff he did not require to work in his cafe to spare them lost wages, Mr Hamilton estimated the financial hit was closer to $7,000.

Martin Hamilton in an ice cream van window.
Martin Hamilton says he’s second guessing whether he wants to continue supporting Gardenfest.(Jess Oakenfull)

“When you couple this with the rise in the cost of living [and] inflation … to suffer a financial loss like this will be devastating for us as a business,” he said.

“It really makes me second guess whether I want to continue to support the Gardenfest if there’s always going to be that spectre over my head.

“What happens if we go through all of this and book our calendar out and then get another phone call of the 11th hour to say, ‘sorry, guys, you’re not going to be able to come anymore?’”

Entally is normally open to the public every week between Wednesday and Saturday, with the site also hosting weddings.

The site was previously leased to the National Trust and timber company Gunns.

The inside of a glass and steel greenhouse.
The estate, which would normally be open from Wednesday to Saturday, is currently closed.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

Mr Sherrard and Mr Godfrey also poured millions of dollars into expanding and renovating the former Rutherglen Holiday Village to create Entally Lodge, which is across the road from Entally Estate.

In 2022, the lodge tourism venture, which featured a restaurant, bar and accommodation, permanently closed less than seven years after it opened.

At the time of its opening, then-Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman described it as “huge vote of confidence” in the state’s tourism future.

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