New South Wales is at risk of losing major events, including the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, after claims $100 million was secretly cut from Destination NSW by the previous Perrottet Government.

Departmental briefings handed to the new Minns Labor Government have reportedly revealed the Coalition slashed the State Significant Event Fund in half last year.

The initial budget saw $200 million committed to the state’s events over four years, but this was allegedly halved to $100 million by the NSW Liberal Party’s expenditure review committee in October 2022 – documents revealing the cuts were never publicly announced.

Local media reports the Destination NSW budget was bolstered as part of a Covid stimulus package before being cut after restrictions eased following the pandemic, despite events like Mardi Gras delivering a net operating surplus of $317,712 based on a budget of $210,232 last year.

Results of the SGLMG organisation over the past 5 years by UOWTV (Source: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)


When adjusting for the community grants and other support measures of $199,900 provided to the event’s members, as well as the broader community, the organisation delivered an underlying operating surplus of $517,612.

Results of the SGLMG organisation over the past 5 years by UOWTV (Source: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)


In 2022 alone, the Sydney Mardi Gras parade attracted a festival audience of more than 92,000.

According to Destination NSW, this figure is made up of 20,000 interstate and international visitors each year.

Infographic by UOWTV


Despite the event’s major economic benefits, the future of Sydney Mardi Gras is now under threat unless NSW Labor can find the cash to pay for it.

Minister for Arts, Night-time Economy and Music John Graham has committed to finding the extra money to support Mardi Gras, but said other state events may not receive any funding.

“A range of events will be impacted,” Mr Graham said.

“Of course we will find a way to fund next year’s Mardi Gras, but it leaves other events at risk.”

Former Treasurer Matt Kean has since pushed back at claims that the Perrottet Government never publicly announced the cuts.

“The changes were published in the half-year budget update, and also accounted for in the pre-election budget update that was accepted by the new Treasurer, Mr Mookhey,” Mr Kean said.

Spending on major events is understood to part a wide-ranging review into government programs currently being undertaken by Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and Finance Minister Courtney Houssos, with a range of spending measures looking at being axed in NSW’s September 2023 budget in a bid to save money.

With reporting from Jasmine Jones and Neve McGavock.