Bluesfest Is Threatening To Bail On NSW If Gladys Doesn't Wind Back Her Anti-Festival Laws

First they came for the young people, and the NSW government did nothing. Then they came for the festival boomers and now it's ON.

In the last fortnight two NSW music festivals have been axed in the wake of the state government’s new, abrupt and eye-wateringly pricy new compliance measures, ostensibly in the service of stopping drug deaths via a strategy of ensuring that there are no more festivals.

And the two now-dead festivals, Psyfari and Mountain Sounds, are pretty niche and just affect a bunch of young people who the NSW government probably aren’t that worried about annoying.

But now something has happened which might actually affect Liberal voters – which should worry premier Gladys Berejiklian ahead of the election: Byron Bay’s Bluesfest, one of the biggest and most successful annual Australian music festivals, has said it will leave NSW if the laws aren’t wound back.

In an open letter to the NSW government Bluesfest promoter Peter Noble declared that “I am saying now, Bluesfest will leave NSW. We have no choice; it’s a matter of survival. Will the last festival to leave NSW please turn out the light of culture in this soon to be barren state?”

Noble’s letter calls out the government for not consulting with the people who actually put festivals on before bringing the legislation in, pointing out that the final report hasn’t even been released yet.

“Why do you seem to be hell-bent on destroying our industry? We provide culture to the people of this state, and Australia, through our good works. Most festivals haven’t had drug deaths and contribute greatly to our society through presenting well-run, professional, world-class events. Why have we been given zero recognition in this government’s actions?”

“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,” Noble told the ABC. “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.”

It also raises a question about another Byron mainstay: Splendour In The Grass, who bought their own site in Byron Bay a few years ago (which is also home to the Byron leg of the Falls Festival) and presumably don’t want to have to make a Queensland trek over to Woodford again, as they did when the site was being established.

This all comes after a report which concluded that NSW is losing out on $16 billion a year thanks to its post-lockout, post-festival nighttime dead zone.

But hey, who can put a price on not having a good time?

There Are New Penalties For NSW Festivals Because This Pill-Testing Blame Won't Shift Itself

Does ending all music festivals in NSW count as a way to make them safer for young people?

Gladys Berejiklian has responded to the spate of music deaths with an announcement that… um, there’ll be more red tape for festival organisers as of March 1.

Hoping to hold a festival? OK: on top of the existing regulations now there will be new obligations including chill out zones and water stations – things which most festivals already do – and the need to get sign off from medical authorities, the police, paramedics and the government. Which, again, already happens as a matter of course under the existing consitions.

What is new, however, is the penalties.

Under the new laws those applying for a permit would need to show adequate “chill out zones” and supply of water – things which festivals currently do, in our experience. On top of this promoters will face fines of up to $110,000 or potentially serve jail time in the event of drug-related injuries or fatalities.

And if you’re thinking “OK, can we not incorporate pill testing into this suite of policies?” then be advised that NOVA’s men of the people Fitzy and Wippa are way ahead of you:

PILL TESTING debate: Fitzy & Gladys Berejiklian

Things got a bit heated in the studio when Gladys Berejiklian and Fitzy discussed the pill-testing debate.

Posted by Fitzy & Wippa on Sunday, 20 January 2019

But will the new laws work? The general consensus appears to be “not without a lot more detail.”

GOAT spoke to several current and former festival promoters who had mixed opinions on the efficacy of pill testing but all agreed that the sudden implementation of vague new laws with no industry consultation was not the way to go.

One echoed a recent interview by Stereosonic promoter Richie McNeill who insisted “It needs real lengthy robust discussion, not quick-fix policy,” adding that it would make it far more difficult to hold events in NSW.

Still, if we get rid of all public events that might attract young people, then young people won’t take drugs at them! It’s win-win, right?

It'll Cost One Billion Dollars To Make Elon Musk Burrow Through The Blue Mountains Like A Mighty Wombat

Look, who hasn't wanted to live their life as that most noble of marsupials?

Hot tip for Australian politicians: can we please stop Tweeting your over-the-top infrastructure ideas at Elon Musk?

Yes, former SA premier Hay Weatherill did that with the mighty lithium ion battery in Jamestown, which is the reason why the state is now almost entirely powered by renewable energy, with zero blackouts during the recent heatwave. But now it’s becoming A Thing.

Jeremy Buckingham was, until recently, a NSW MP for the Greens before quitting over consistently-denied sexual assault allegations and is now an independent. He’s also the MP who threw up while visiting the dead fish graveyard that the Darling River has become.

And now he’s tweeting his big ideas for reducing Western Sydney’s congestion problems at Elon Musk and getting quotes.

Now, this is a version of the prototype loop system Musk has built in LA and relies on a lot of yet-to-be realised technology – mountain-piercing digging machines, electric commuter vehicles – to reduce congestion. And given the cost of Westconnex was initially $10 billion and has since almost doubled in cost blowouts, that does sound like a bargain.

That said, the plan still involves digging the whole way through the Blue Mountains, which is slightly less practical than writing one’s name on the Moon with a superlaser. But you can’t accuse Buckingham of being unambitious!

And sure, cynics would say that Buckingham will never be called upon to make this happen, but if the NSW election is a close run thing maybe the government will have to agree to the Elon Musk Hyper-Wombat Burrow Scheme if it wants to pass anything else.

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