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NSW Government’s failure to consult sees festivals threaten to move interstate

NSW Government’s failure to consult sees festivals threaten to move interstate
October 22, 2019

Major music festivals including Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival and Laneway Festival are among events threatening to relocate interstate following the NSW Government’s move to reintroduce flawed safety legislation ahead of the busy summer season.

The festivals, which also include the Listen Out, Field Day and Groovin the Moo festivals, say they will now "consider their futures in NSW" after failing to secure a commitment from the NSW Government to establish a music industry roundtable as part of the proposed new laws.

The Australian Festival Association, which released a joint statement on behalf of the festivals and industry bodies this morning released a statement advising of the "uncertainty and a lack of meaningful consultation" around the proposed safety measures had had a "punitive effect" on the industry.

As the NSW Parliament prepares to debate the bill this week, Laneway Festival Co-Director, Danny Rogers indicated the event l would be prepared to relocate interstate, stating “there are other states outside NSW that are willing to better support our business. We may be left with no choice but to consider our options.”

Fuzzy Operations, which runs Listen Out and Field Day, said the music industry "has repeatedly offered to work with (NSW) Government" to develop a "workable framework" but their requests had been ignored.

Managing Director Adelle Robinson stated “yet again, last week we saw new legislation for music festivals introduced by this government without any consultation.”

The threat to leave NSW comes as industry groups Live Performance Australia (LPA) and the Australian Festival Association confirmed that a meeting with Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello on Monday failed to address their concerns.

The industry representatives described the draft legislation as "unworkable".

Minister Dominello, in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald after the meeting, said the NSW Government had committed to an "ongoing consultation" and an industry roundtable later this year, but made no commitment to include the roundtable as part of the new laws.

He explained “our top priority is safety and the legislation is intended to safeguard the health of young people. We need to put politics aside and work together to reinstate a festival safety system.”

LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson said an industry roundtable was "best practice" and "at the very least this should be reflected in the new legislation", commenting “we believe a music industry roundtable where both government and industry work together can support our shared objectives. Failing that we call on the Parliament to reject the legislation.”

The legislation will reinstate the requirement for 11 ‘high risk’ festivals to develop safety management plans in consultation with NSW Health, NSW Police and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

The proposed laws were unveiled after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her administration would ignore draft recommendations from the NSW Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame to introduce pill testing, scrap the use of sniffer dogs and overhaul strip-searches.

Slamming Minister Dominello for only commiting to consultation after the new legislation is passed, LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson, commented “the industry has, since February, repeatedly called for establishment of an industry roundtable to work together to ensure safety at music festivals for all patrons.

“While Minister Dominello confirmed at a meeting with us that he will during the second reading of the draft Bill publicly commit to ongoing industry consultation, it was made clear that this would only occur after the legislation was passed, with no industry input.

“At the very least, this should be reflected in the new legislation. The roundtable needs to happen quickly and certainly before the summer break.

‘’Music festivals are a cornerstone of NSW’s cultural fabric and they also support thousands of jobs and economic activity in our cities, regional centres and country towns.

‘’The music festival sector is worth $100 million nationally and NSW currently has the largest market share with more than 50% of those revenues generated in NSW. Last year in NSW, more than 400, 000 people attended a music festival, that’s 43% of the national figure. And 20, 000 more than the year before.

“It would be a major blow for fans, artists and all those people in communities across NSW who benefit culturally and economically from music festivals, if we were to see music festivals forced to leave.

“The industry’s aim has always been to work with government to develop a more workable regulatory framework for improving safety at festivals. The draft legislation in its current form is unworkable. However, we believe a music industry roundtable where both government and industry work together can support our shared objectives. Failing that we call on the parliament to reject the legislation.”

Images: The NSW Government’s move to reintroduce flawed safety legislation could see events such as Splendour in the Grass (top) relocate interstate while pill testing at the ACT’s Groovin the Moo festival (below) has been recognised for saving lives.

Related Articles

17th October 2019 - Live Performance Australia slams NSW Government’s ‘broken promises’ on music festival consultation

16th October 2019 - NSW Government to ignore Coroner’s pill testing recommendation as it reintroduces festival management laws

16th October 2019 - Federal Government questioned over drought funds being used to back music festivals

10th October 2019 - Music Industry ready to work with NSW Government on festival safety

2nd October 2019 - Federal Government flags importance of festivals to communities

27th September 2019 - NSW Upper House vote sees music festival regulations ditched

25th September 2019 - Live Performance Australia advises that collaboration is key to safer music festivals

28th August 2019 - Inquiry calls for scrapping of NSW festival licencing scheme

20th August 2019 - Australian Festival Industry Conference expands to two days

25th July 2019 - Planning Commission approval will enable expanded festivals at North Byron Parklands

19th July 2019 - NSW music festival deaths inquiry told trauma of strip-searches similar to that of sexual assaults

17th July 2019 - Splendour in the Grass festivalgoers urged to stay safe

16th July 2019 - Music festival deaths inquest hears presence of Police dogs led to panicked drug-taking

16th July 2019 - NSW Government’s festival licensing scheme needs ‘complete overhaul’

30th May 2019 - Following 2018 drug deaths Defqon.1 festival now ‘postponed indefinitely’

13th May 2019 - Action on festival regulations welcomed by Live music industry coalition

30th April 2019 - Pill testing saves lives at ACT’s Groovin the Moo festival

13th April 2019 - Splendour in the Grass achieves record ticket sales

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