News February 22, 2019

After the rally, NSW live biz remain in the dark on new festival legislation

After the rally, NSW live biz remain in the dark on new festival legislation
Image: Attendees of the 'Don't Kill Live Music' rally in Sydney (Credit: Stella Hobbs)

After last night’s at Sydney’s Hyde Park sent a resounding “we’re not gonna take it” message to the NSW government, the live music sector is this morning working at getting more details on the new legislation.

Says Matthew Lazarus-Hall, a board member of the Australian Festivals Association (AFA), “What is frustrating is that with just a week out from the new rules, we still have no idea of what the full details are.

“It’s very well for the government to talk about ‘low risk’ and ‘high risk’ but who’s to know?

“It’s difficult to comment or provide feedback when you’re not certain what the rules are.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a coalition of the AFA, Live Performance Australia, Music NSW, APRA AMCOS and the Live Music Office met with the premier’s staff.

The meeting was cordial even though the music industry’s suggestion that the new legislation be pushed back until at least later in the year for consultation was rejected out of hand.

The premier’s office said full details would be furnished to the industry by the end of Wednesday or by Thursday at the latest.

The AFA is chasing up their delivery today.

TMN understands that Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring and Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment were to hold a meeting with the premier’s office yesterday morning.

However, the promoters called off at the last moment as it would be futile to discuss anything without the full details being supplied.

Like most in the live music sector, Lazarus-Hall believes the government would never treat the banking or petroleum or mining sector in this way.

Last night’s rally drew thousands (one unofficial estimate had it at 10,000) and made some good points.

Ocean Alley, The Rubens, Dan Sultan, Urthboy, Bertie Blackman, Cloud Control, Polish Club and Olympia were among those who played.

Speakers included Chugg who summed it all up characteristically with “Let’s get rid of this shit!” – although history was probably made when Chugg was left speechless for once when a female streaker rushed past him as he spoke holding an “I don’t like crowds” sign.

Adelle Robinson of Fuzzy/AFA suggested, “What the government is trying to do is not about safety — it’s about trying to control the industry through the liquor act).

Murray Cook of The Wiggles emphasised how rural economies needed festivals to sustain economically, and Sultan observed, “Seems to me, the low-risk festivals have a slightly older demographic then the high-risk festivals. It’s an attack on young people.”

There were calls for the government to form a music regulation roundtable to review all regulation impacting live music, develop a transparent standard on what extra costs promoters would be hit with to pay for police and medical staff to attend festivals) and to work with the industry on making festivals safer rather than use “experts” who had never staged a music event in their lives.

Some would say the rally could have done without aggro posters calling premier  Gladys Berejiklian “a witch”, “BeriJERKlian” “Gladzilla”  and plastered her face on a penis.

But what was conveyed was one very important message.

Says Lazarus-Hall, “The whole event emphasised how important festivals are in our lives.

“Not just economically and culturally, but as a place to find new music and where we have great social experiences with our friends.

“People are more likely to remember their first festival than their first music experience.”

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