This summer Australia and New Zealand have been battered by a number of natural disasters. The most recent struck on February 22, with the Christchurch earthquake leaving what now looks like in excess of 200 people dead. In Australia the Queensland and Victorian floods also resulted in fatalities and significant property damage. Cyclone Yasi - one of the largest tropical cyclones in Australia's history - wreaked havoc across north-eastern Australia. In addition, serious bushfires hit Perth, and Sydney suffered a record heat-wave.

These natural events provide yet another reminder of how the community, its infrastructure and our industry can be affected.

New Zealand

The devastating earthquake which struck late last month has left Christchurch without many of its major venues for at least three weeks.

As was reported by the Venue Management Association (Asia Pacific), Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Town Hall for Performing Arts and CBS Canterbury Arena will all be closed until at least March 15 – all venues suffered structural damage.

AMI Stadium, home to the Crusaders Super Rugby team, will be closed for at least the same period. According to Vbase, the venue management company that runs the venue:

“AMI Stadium has repairable structural damage, significant damage to fixtures and fittings and liquefaction impacts within the stadium including the playing surface. There is also substantial damage to surrounding streets and infrastructure.”

The Crusaders were scheduled to play matches in the stadium on March 4 and 11, and are in the process of identifying alternate venues.


The immediate effects of Queensland’s weather were significant, with damage to playing surfaces of some of the state’s highest-profile sporting arenas.  These included:

  • Suncorp Stadium, which was closed for a month with damage and swamping of the field. This caused the postponement of a number of sporting fixtures scheduled at the venue.
  • Tennis Queensland narrowly avoided disruption to the Brisbane International in January, however the floods inundated Pat Rafter Arena with up to 4 metres of water. It was reported that  this venue  may be out of action for several months. Other parts of the venue were temporarily affected, but outer hard courts have reportedly now reopened.
  • Other Brisbane venues affected included:
    • A training venue of the Brisbane Broncos at the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus
    • The Brisbane Lions training venue at Coorparoo
    • A baseball match between the Brisbane Bandits and Canberra in the ABL scheduled for the RNA Showgrounds was postponed as it became a designated evacuation centre for the city during the floods

Although the Gabba was not directly affected by water damage, a 20/20 Big Bash cricket match was postponed due to road closures around the city.

Western Australia

Also this year, Tropical Cyclones Bianca and Carlos moved down the West Australian coast, bringing large swells to Perth’s city beaches. Although the effect on venues were mild compared to those in New Zealand and Australia’s east coast, the resulting beach erosion has forced some changes to the venue layout for the March Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Cottesloe.

Perth was also affected by bushfires, with evacuation warnings issued in major centres including the cities of Armadale and Swan and advisories being issued in several other centres across Perth’s east.


In Victoria, heavy rains throughout the summer, and a one-in-200-year weather event (thanks to the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Yasi) has had local councils in western and north-western Victoria experience heavy flooding, which has impacted local sporting grounds, and raised concerns about impacts of locust plagues from the warm and moist conditions.

New South Wales

Sydney broke a 150-year record in February with six consecutive days over 30 degrees. This exceeded the previously held record of five consecutive days above 30 degrees in the city held since records were kept in 1858.  While interspersed with slightly cooler periods over the summer, the oppressive heat has had its impacts on outdoor music festivals.

Sydney’s Big Day Out music festivals were held over two days, and experienced 40 degrees, with reports that more than 180 people were treated for heat related conditions on the first Day of the event.

Business Continuity Management

While these extreme forces of nature reinforce the need for developing contingencies for public venues and events, it also highlights the need for good business continuity management.

  • Does your organisation have a plan for continuing if your staff were unable to come to work?
  • Do they have remote access to IT systems? (Vbase – the New Zealand venue management company, temporarily relocated its head office, and access to email was not expected to be operating for a number of days following the earthquake)
  • Are all contact numbers of key staff and clients distributed in hard copy?
  • Can you easily access staffing and bookings schedules remotely?

These are just some of the issues that should be considered as part of a more formal business continuity plan. You can get more guidance on developing your BCM capability from SAI Global’s publication: HB 221:2004 Business Continuity Management.