The NSW state government has released a list of fourteen music festivals that it deems ‘high risk’ based on incidents in the past three years that have occurred at those festivals – specifically, drug related illnesses or deaths.
All of the festivals on the list take place in Sydney or Newcastle.
‘High risk’ festivals include Defqon, Days Like This, Electric Gardens, Lost Paradise, and Laneway Festival.
The announcement of this classification follows consultations with festival operators and other stakeholders, and means that only those festivals deemed ‘high risk’ would be impacted by the state government’s new licensing scheme for festivals.
Minister for Racing Paul Toole said:
“The NSW government wants music festivals to thrive but serious drug related illnesses and deaths have demonstrated that we need to help make a small number of them safer.”
Despite these assurances that the Berejiklian government “wants music festivals to thrive”, many involved in the operation of festivals in NSW feel this is not the case.
The announcement regarding ‘high risk’ festivals comes just one day after a ‘Don’t Kill Live Music’ rally was held in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Thursday night. Thousands of musicians, festival attendees and supporters gathered to listen to performances from artists such as Dan Sultan and Polish Club.
The new licensing scheme introduced by the Berejiklian government, which will start on March 1st, includes a $650 licensing fee for ‘high risk’ festivals.
Bizarrely, a page on the NSW Liquor and Gaming’s website titled ‘Keeping People Safe At Music Festivals‘ has been taken down, despite being linked to from the main page with information about the new licensing scheme.
Minister Toole said that festivals would be reviewed regularly, and if they improved safety arrangements, they may see their ‘high risk’ designation downgraded. And if other festivals experience drug-related illnesses or deaths, they could be reclassified as ‘high risk’.
The Keep Sydney Open Party responded to today’s announcement via Facebook, writing:
“WE KNEW IT! The NSW Government created all this baloney about festivals because it is trying to shut down specific events. Their cooked system was going to threaten every festival in the state but your letters, your noise and the incredible showing at Thursday’s rally has forced the government to admit their agenda.”
Ultra Australia, one of the festivals deemed ‘high risk’, takes place tomorrow in Parramatta, and more than 10,000 people are expected to attend.