Festival organisers will have just one day to get their heads around the rushed new licensing regulations in NSW before they come into effect.
NSW Greens MLA Cate Faehrmann is working closely with a group of concerned festival organisers. The group had a “crisis meeting” at NSW state parliament this morning to try and get clarity from the Department of Liquor & Gaming on what the new rules will be.
Now read this in your best Arrested Development Narrator voice: They didn’t.
“We’ve heard from the department today that we will have 24 hours to see what this regulation is,” Ms Faehrmann told Fairfax Media.
“This whole process is a farce.”
“It will kill music festivals across NSW if you don’t delay it.”
Several music festivals, including Mountain Sounds and Psyfari, have cancelled their 2019 events, citing harsher and more costly requirements from the government around policing and other safety measures.
The organisers’ group released a joint statement after the meeting, begging the Berejiklian government to delay the regulation beyond March 1 – and beyond the election that could see them lose power.
“As a direct result of the NSW Government’s rushed new music festival licensing regime, scheduled to come into effect on 1 March 2019, numerous music festivals in NSW are being forced to close or look at options outside NSW,” the statement says in part.
“There has been no public consultation and no genuine engagement with industry on the proposed changes. There is widespread confusion about the details and impact of the new regime.”
Statement agreed to by consensus by festival organisers & industry leaders at the Festival Organisers Crisis Meeting hosted in NSW Parliament today by myself & @AlexGreenwich – calls on @GladysB to "halt plans to bring in a new festival licensing regime on 1 March 2019" pic.twitter.com/PJ3M12AUtt
— 💧 Cate Faehrmann (@greencate) February 18, 2019
Festivals including the iconic Bluesfest have suggested that they may have to move their events out of the state if the scheme goes ahead.
NSW Labor launched their live music policy in Sydney last week, committing $35 million to fund contemporary music in the state and $4 million specifically for festivals.
Leader Michael Daley’s also indicated that the party would be open to discussing pill testing as part of their drug policy – a huge step given that the Berejiklian government’s response has been a flat refusal to consider pill testing.
Labor has said that it would continue to support the controversial lockout laws.
The Liberals and Nationals have declared war on live music in NSW.
Here's how we'll put an end to it. pic.twitter.com/r7m6jIMUdI
— NSW Labor (@NSWLabor) February 16, 2019
The licensing scheme is part of a broad push by the NSW government to increase regulation of music festivals and events across the state, as a response to an unusually high number of deaths linked to festivals over the summer.
It’s inspired a Change.org petition asking the government “Don’t kill live music“, which has racked up over 100,000 signatures, and a rally in Sydney this Thursday night.
— Meghna Bali (@meghnabali) February 16, 2019
An interim event licensing agreement was brought in in October, and a spokesperson for the department confirmed that events being held between March 1 and 31 were currently covered under that scheme.
GOAT has requested further comment from the Department but had not received a response at the time of publication.