One of the premier events on Australia’s corporate callander, the Couta Boat Classic, has been cancelled out respect for communities affected by deadly bushfires raging across Victoria and NSW.
A who’s-who of Australia’s business elite were expected at the annual event in Sorrento, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, on Friday to eat, drink, race boats and shares their views on issues affecting business and the economy.
But organiser KPMG said on Thursday said it was not appropriate for the event to go ahead given the disastrous fires still raging in eastern Australia. There have been seven confirmed deaths in NSW, 17 people are missing in Victoria and more than a thousand homes have been destroyed.
The decision was made “out of respect for bushfire affected communities”, and also took into consideration “the expectation of worsening weather conditions tomorrow and over the weekend”, a KPMG spokeswoman said.
Regular attendees at the event include Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted, former AMP boss Craig Dunn, mining doyen and former Qantas chair Leigh Clifford, NBN chair Ziggy Switkowski, former treasurer Peter Costello, and Medibank boss Criag Drummond. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and former industrial relations minister Kelly O’Dwyer have also previously attended the event.
The meeting of influential captains of industry regularly makes headlines.
The hashtag #yactbanter took off on social media when business leaders at the 2017 event called for changes to weekend penalty rates in between sailing, which some netizens deemed tone-deaf.
While media personality Eddie McGuire raised eyebrows during a speech at the 2015 event when, referring to then Australia Post boss and regular attendee Ahmed Fahour: “You’ve got to love Australia, when all the Muslims are delivering the postage and parcels.”
KPMG said it would be holding a “scaled back” lunch for some clients and crew. KMPG will make a bushfire donation and was looking at other ways to support bushfire affected communities, a spokeswoman said.
Source: Thanks smh.com