Music industry reacts to list of “high risk” NSW festivals sent by SMS
The Australian music industry has reacted with anger at the NSW government’s latest handling of new festival licences – labelling it “a farce”.
As reported in TMN on Friday, the music industry was still chasing documents from the state government which provided full details of what it will face on March 1.
On Friday night, it alerted festival organisers by SMS just before announcing the news via a late-night press release.
Risk assessment guidelines and reference documents have still not been made available.
14 festivals are on the “high risk” list, and only they will be subject to tough new government regulations.
Days Like This
Hardcore Till I Die
Knockout Games of Destiny
Minister for Racing Paul Toole said the 14 had been chosen because of past safety issues.
“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,” Toole said.
“We will continue to work with operators of higher risk festivals to ensure they have appropriate safety arrangements in place, and can comply with the new licensing scheme.”
The Australian Festival Association, Live Performance Australia, Music NSW, APRA AMCOS and Live Music Office issued a joint statement in response.
“Despite numerous attempts to engage the government on these issues, our offer to sit down and work through sensible steps to improve safety has fallen on deaf ears.
“Instead, the Berejiklian government has adopted a chaotic policy on the run approach to the issue of festival safety.
“The government’s consultation process on this issue has been a farce – and it reached new heights last night when industry bodies received a copy of the Minister’s embargoed media release and the still incomplete regulations proposal after 10pm.
“Risk assessment guidelines and reference documents have still not been made available.
“The process has lacked integrity and transparency – and there are just as many questions left unanswered by the government’s latest announcement.”
Some of the 14 affected festivals have not had a chance to argue their case before the authorities.
The statement emphasised, “These festivals haven’t seen the guidelines under which they have been assessed, nor given a right of reply.
“There remains confusion that these festivals shouldn’t even be in the high-risk category.
“A stand out example is Laneway Festival which does not meet the government’s stated high-risk criteria.
“It’s also not clear how new festivals will be assessed, what discretionary powers will be available and what risk assessment criteria will be applied.
As it stands, any festival can be added to the high-risk category at any time.
It exposes this whole process as a media stunt by the premier without any genuine commitment to working with us on festival safety issues.
Expressing little confidence in the government and seeing its actions as “an insult to the professionalism of our industry”, the statement reiterated:
“We reaffirm our commitment to better safety at our festivals – but we won’t cop unfair and unreasonable regulations without consultation and which will damage the economic and social contribution our festivals make to the NSW economy in our cities and regional areas.”