One of WA's most popular food and wine events, the Mundaring Truffle Festival, has been cancelled after a legal stand-off between the Shire of Mundaring and the State Government.
The shire, which organises the event, made the announcement yesterday after weeks of failed negotiations with key sponsor Eventscorp - the Government's events marketing arm.
The two parties clashed over a legal clause in the funding contract which had been reworded after the disastrous Kimberley ultramarathon where several participants suffered life-threatening burns.
The revised clause states Eventscorp, as a sponsor and not an event organiser, should not be held liable for anything that goes wrong and that the State must be indemnified from any liability that may occur.
Shire of Mundaring chief executive Jonathan Throssell said the shire could not accept sponsorship based on such conditions. He said the contract would have forced the shire to accept indemnity from liability, unconditioned by fault.
"The clause would mean the shire would be responsible for any liability, even if the State was at fault," he said. "If we accepted, we would be unable to obtain insurance cover for the particular clause and this would expose the shire to financial risk which could run into millions of dollars."
Eventscorp executive director Gwyn Dolphin said the clause was part of the standard contract for every major event.
"It has not been raised as a problem, and certainly not as a reason to cancel, by other key event holders," he said.
Mr Dolphin said Eventscorp had increased its sponsorship to the festival by 75 per cent this year and was disappointed it would not go ahead.
Shire of Mundaring president Helen Dullard said the issue was bigger than the cancellation of the Mundaring Truffle Festival.
"This will affect every community event in the State - we plan to notify every local council to ensure no one gets stranded by this clause while the State Government just walks away," she said.
More than 15,000 people attended last year's truffle festival, contributing $1.74 million in expenditure.