Out here in the fields: NSW festival debate continues to blaze
The collapse of Mountain Sounds and an open letter from Bluesfest supremo Peter Noble for a campaign against the March 1 legislation to introduce tighter measures for NSW festivals has created a fierce debate that continues to intensify.
PETER NOBLE TO TMN
Peter Noble, who was in Los Angeles attending the Grammys when he posted his open letter on the weekend, additionally told TMN:
“Our industry MUST band together. I don’t want to attack our state government. That will polarise the situation.
“BUT WE NEED TO STRONGLY MAKE THE POINT
we have a diverse industry presenting festivals … we give culture … we are after going to be out of business potentially
“This cannot be the intention of this legislation …. however, if unintended IT IS GOING TO BE THE RESULT.”
PEKING DUK ON GETTING THE LIBERALS OUT OF POWER
Peking Duk responded to news of the cancellation of Mountain Sounds by posting “It breaks our heart to say the NSW government has well and truly crossed the line” and hailed the festival as “Something loved dearly by almost every person on the entire Central Coast of NSW and abroad.”
They added: “By introducing a $200,000 ‘police and safety’ fee, an extortionate 1250% increase in which last year was only $16,000 just ONE WEEK out from the festival doors open, NSW Gov. has decided to kill Mountain Sounds Festival.
“Gladys Berejiklian says she wants festivals to continue and to grow, how exactly do they grow with a $184,000 increase in police costs?
“Forcing festivals to pay these costs even though out of 15,000 attendees last year there were only 49 drug detections. 49.
“There were no drug deaths, no drug violcence [sic], nothing to justify an increase in police costs.
“If you don’t care for enjoyment of people at least appreciate the economic impact of this.
“Hundreds of festivals workers livelihoods are gone now, from the people behind the scenes setting it up, artists and punters who had booked flights, accommodation etc all the way to the faces you see at Nan’s taco shack and dad’s hat stall.
“Gladys get your head out of the sand, your policies and viewpoints need a reality check.
“We don’t force roads to close because of road fatalities, we don’t ban alcohol due to (much higher) deaths from alcohol, we don’t shut down casinos because of the trauma and grief they cause to the addicted.
“So why are you targeting music festivals like this? Why are you targeting the events that give so much back to the community?”
“If music, creativity, culture, economy and enjoyment of life itself is important to you, then please on March 23rd from now DO NOT vote Liberal. They started with killing our venues and now they are setting fire to our festivals.”
“When there’s no music left it’ll be too late to say something,” they concluded. “Vote. Gladys & Liberal. Out.”
NSW PREMIER GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN RESPONDS
When told by the local ABC team that her government was being blamed by Mountain Sounds for their decision to cancel, the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian responded:
“I don’t think it’s fair for organisers to blame anybody else but themselves. There are rules in place.
“We want young people to have fun, we want more tourism to the Central Coast and other places, we want young people to have fun at these festivals.
“But the festival organisers just need to obey the law. It’s not about making a quick dollar. It’s about keeping the people who turn up safe. That’s a responsibility.
“We want these festivals to grow in number but we want them to enjoy them in safety.
“That’s why we’ve said to these organisers as other states do, there are rules in place now for you to obey and make sure that everybody who turns up is safe.
“And if you can’t spend money making your event safe, that’s a decision for you. But it’s not fair to blame the government.
“All of us have to step up and improve safety.
The government stepped up (and) provided more information for young people, more medical staff on ground, provide adequate water and other things.
“We’ve stepped up and we expect organisers to step up as well.”
FESTIVAL PROMOTER RICHIE McNEILL
Veteran promoter Richie McNeill forwarded Mountain Sound’s cancellation announcement to his social media followers, and commented, “Fuck me. This is ridiculous. NSW needs help.”
MOUNTAIN SOUNDS VERSUS NSW POLICE
NSW police minister Troy Grant maintained that Mountain Sounds was plagued by “mismanagement” and that its logistics were “inadequate and incomplete.”
NSW police said authorities had attempted to work with the Mountain Sound for months leading up to the festival and had “no response”.
The festival’s promoters reacted angrily that this was “completely” incorrect.
They stated: “Mountain Sounds has never in its six years of operating not responded to the police.
“No one from the NSW government has responded or explained why the extra police presence was required.”