AUSTRALIA (CelebrityAccess) The government of New South Wales in Australia, which has been accused of waging a war on festivals, is under further unwanted attention as leaked documents show that more festivals could be facing closure because of new legislation.
The NSW government has imposed changes to festivals because of six festivalgoers who have died over the past several months, five of which were from suspected drug overdoses. New regulations caused festivals Psyfari and Mountain Sounds to cancel their 2019 editions because of new regulations that were financially untenable. Psyfari organizers blamed excessive rules, bans on Bring Your Own alcohol, a heavy police presences and general lack of freedom.
“While drug-related deaths at festivals are a very serious matter, they really do make up the tip of the iceberg,” organizers wrote to their followers. “To put blame onto festival organisers is an extreme measure.”
Now a “user-pay” bill will be handed to festival organizers for mandatory police, medical and ambulance services as part of the changes the NSW government will introduce next month, according to the Daily Mail. Festivals will also be placed in categories of low-risk or high-risk, with the latter saddled with higher fees.
“Unless the festival agrees to the police bill, they will be denied their festival licence,” said a leaked slide from a meeting in Redfern, where a representative of state music body Music NSW presented the new legislation to festival stakeholders, according to the Daily Mail. Organizers will have to provide “extensive detail on all operation components of their festival including security and harm minimisation” in their applications for a license.
Liquor and Gambling NSW will also give each festival a profile in addition to mandatory conditions that will be provided once festivals are placed into their risk category. Any event with more than 2,000 people that runs more than five hours will be classified as a festival.
“I charge the government with a systemic failure in fairness here, and implore all politicians from all parties to quickly become involved with what is a serious injustice,” Bluesfest Director Peter Noble wrote to Premier Gladys Berejiklian. “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.”
Noble said most festivals do not have drug deaths and should be recognized for their safe environments.
“It seems the new policies are poorly thought-out and through their implementation will decimate our industry should our government not see good sense,” he wrote. “I have in my 50 years in presenting music never experienced such poorly thought out, unbalanced legislation. Surely a professional governing body could do better. It’s the Lockout Laws Version 2 for festivals.”