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NSW Government stance on festivals sees Byron Bay Bluesfest Director threaten to move event
Peter Noble, Director of Byron Bay's multi-award winning Bluesfest is threatening to move the event out of NSW, claiming new NSW Government guidelines are threatening to put the festival out of business.
Advising that strict new licensing and safety guidelines could cost the festival, which is in its 30th year, hundreds of thousands of dollars, Noble advised "we are the industry professionals, we are the people that are presenting events at the highest levels, I mean Bluesfest has just been inducted into the NSW Tourism Awards hall of fame.”
Following a spate of drug-related festival deaths, the NSW Government’s interim Guidelines for Music Festival Event Organisers: Music Festival Harm Reduction, require a greater police presence and more medical care services as part of festival organiser's risk assessments.
The interim Guidelines state they were developed in consultation with NSW Ambulance, local health districts, NSW Poisons Information Centre, peer based harm reduction programs, event organisers and private onsite medical providers.
In an open letter, Noble advised “we are all concerned about people dying from drug overdoses, but in 30 years my festival has never had one and so have the vast majority of festivals, yet we're all getting tarred with the same brush.
"By all means always look at harm reduction but at the same point in time don't put us out of business."
Commenting on the interim Guidelines, which were released in December, Noble added “it represents their (the NSW Government’s) concerns and those concerns should be discussed but my industry has never been asked to attend a meeting, to sit down, to work out something.”
Speaking on new state laws to be introduced on 1st March, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today claimed Bluesfest would be unaffected.
She advised “our changes from March are for the high risk events where we've seen death or serious injury.
"That festival has been going for 29 years, it's a fantastic festival, it's low risk so they don't have anything to worry about … I don't want anyone who's holding a festival for a long time to be worried, this is not aimed at you."
However, Noble sees the guidelines s unjust, concluding “I am a music industry professional who presents an event at the highest level of compliance possible.”
His threat to move Bluesfest comes just days after the Mountain Sounds Festival, on the NSW Central Coast, was cancelled.
Organisers claimed they face a last minute bill for $200,000 bill additional police and new licencing conditions.
Images: Peter Noble (top) and Bluesfest (below).
9th February 2019 - Second NSW music festival cancelled in a week
7th February 2019 - Psyfari organisers end event citing NSW Government’s ‘war on festivals’
31st January 2019 - Police say Rainbow Serpent Festival ‘hijacked’ by organised drug dealers
20th January 2019 - NSW Government to require licensing of music festivals after drug deaths
18th January 2019 - Leading medical body calls for pill testing trials at Australian festivals
16th July 2018 - Pollstar acknowledges Bluesfest as Australia’s top music festival
4th January 2016 - NSW Premier Baird threatens to shut down festivals over drug use
29th November 2015 - Woman dies at Sydney Stereosonic music festival as 70 face drug charges
21st April 2014 - Byron Bay Bluesfest celebrates 25th anniversary
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