“Under Real Threat”: Festivals Plead With Berejiklian To Rethink Disastrous Regulations

An industry coalition has asked to meet with the Premier urgently over new regulations.

Gladys Berejiklian pill testing

The NSW Government’s proposed festival regulations, due to drop on March 1, aren’t just actively illogical — they’re genuinely harmful to the industry.

Based on a self-assessment matrix that the government may or may not actually endorse and interim guidelines that have not been shaped with the assistance of festival organisers (or even been made wholly available to them), the regulations have already had a disastrous effect on NSW’s cultural life.

Festivals have been cancelled, and others have been left at serious risk — all while Gladys Berejiklian and her government have attempted to wash their hands of the entire thing.

Now, a group of key festival organisers have banded together in an urgent bid to force the Berejiklian government to rethink the disastrous measures.

The Australian Festival Association (AFA), in association with Live Performance Australia, Music NSW, APRA AMCOS and the Live Music Office are seeking to make enough noise to force Berejiklian and her government to delay the measures.

They’re also looking for the government to undertake a Regulatory Impact Statement, one that would see them evaluate and perhaps finally appreciate the impact that festivals in the state have financially and culturally.

And, finally, they want to make sure that members of the NSW government organise their incoherent thoughts on emergency service costs so that they’re consistent, fair, and handed down in enough time for festivals to factor them into their already expanding budgets.

“We are all strongly committed to the safety at our events,” a statement from the coalition reads. “We are eager to work with the government on implementing sensible and effective measures developed through a proper consultation process.”

Whether or not the Berejiklian government finally listen to the whims of the people, festival organisers and the music industry at large remains to be seen.

In a statement provided to Junkee, the office of the Premier reiterated that they consider music festivals to be an important addition to the state.

“Music festivals are an important part of NSW’s music scene and the economy – and the NSW Government wants them to continue to thrive,” the statement reads. “We just want them to be safe.

“The Government will continue to meet with festival operators to fine-tune the new licencing scheme to ensure we get the balance right between great entertainment and ensuring improved safety for festival goers.”

Whether that’s an actual statement of intent, or just weasel words designed to sweep the issue under the rug, remains to be seen.

NSW Labor, meanwhile, have thrown their support behind the AFA’s call for further consultation. “These are rushed and panicked changes,” the Shadow Minister for Music, John Graham, wrote in a statement to Music Junkee.

“The Australian music industry is now saying their implementation will put events and live music at risk in NSW. These are important issues. Labor wants to see a genuine dialogue with industry so that we are confident that the regulatory regime will actually work.”