Berejiklian Government rejects roundtable & delays festival bill
The Berejiklian Government rejected a bid by the opposition to legislate a music festival roundtable in parliament on Wednesday and further delayed the new festival bill from moving to the upper house until mid-November.
This development follows the latest revelations that a number of prominent festivals are threatening to relocate outside NSW which would cause a $50 million blow to the state economy.
“Government can’t fix this alone,” said John Graham, shadow minister for music and the night-time economy.
“The minister (Victor Dominello, minister for customer service) said the Opposition might as well legislate to have ‘tea and scones’ served at the roundtable.
“We’re simply insisting on one thing, that the government work with the industry. Music fans in NSW risk missing out on seeing their favourite artists if the premier stubbornly refuses to agree to a roundtable in this bill.”
Labor’s proposed roundtable amendment would establish a Music Festival Roundtable with government and industry members, tasked with growing the industry, supporting safety at festivals and reviewing evidence and regulation to ensure it is operating effectively.
The roundtable would meet at least four times a year, including once at a music festival site and would review the operation of the bill after this coming festival season to examine its impact.
Dominello told parliament that the government would set up an informal roundtable which would not be legislated.
The Opposition believes a roundtable should be legislated and will argue for it again when the bill heads to the Legislative Council next month.
Australian Festival Association responds
The Australian Festival Association’s general manager, Julia Robinson, stated:
“After genuinely offering to work with the government to develop safer regulations for over a year, to no avail, our members are holding steadfast on the request to secure a formal mechanism for consultation through legislating for a roundtable.
“If Minister Dominello is committed to a roundtable, there should be no issue with this being included in this new legislation to give the industry more assurance. Had this amendment been accepted, we would be writing an agenda by now instead of another press release.”
Robinson pointed out, “We have proven our effectiveness in collaborating with Government on the widely-praised NSW Health Guidelines.
“The same dedication would go into working on better regulation in the interests of our shared goal of safer festivals and a thriving industry.”
The Australian Festival Association, Live Performance Australia and APRA AMCOS met Tuesday with Dominello to raise concerns about proposed music festival legislation and to repeat its request for a roundtable.
At the meeting, the Government committed to further consultation after the passage of the bill.
More criticisms from the music industry
More promoters have made public their opinions on the government’s stance.
Rod Little, co-director of Groovin’ The Moo promoter Cattleyard Promotions, commented, “Industry consultation and input is vital in developing balanced legislation.
“Without entering into meaningful engagement with the Industry, government is condemning the future of festivals not only operating successfully, but thriving in NSW. It will be music-lovers in NSW that will ultimately miss out.”
Hip hop artist and label executive Tim Levinson/Urthboy said, “NSW has the opportunity to stop playing politics with our businesses and livelihoods.
“The live music industry has managed to flourish for decades without this endless nanny-state interference. Let us get on with making the state a culturally vibrant destination.”
Strawberry Field festival said the proposed legislation “is limiting regional Australia’s access to music, culture and employment opportunities.”
It added, “We believe the voice of the local community is the most important in deciding what events happen locally and on what terms.”
To stress the importance of music festivals to regional economies, Strawberry Fields revealed that in 2017, it generated $1.3 million in Berrigan Shire and $2.6 million in the Greater Boarder region.
It created 7.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in Berrigan Shire and 13.6 more in the Greater Boarder region.
The festival encouraged music fans to lobby their local MPs to push for a roundtable.