Music

NSW Police Are Now Literally Pushing Music Festivals Out Of The State

Despite winning a court case against the NSW Police, Bohemian Beatfreaks decided the fees and police presence isn't worth it.

Bohemian Beatfreaks

Despite winning a court battle against the NSW Police, a small three-day music festival has announced — days out from their start date — that they’re moving from rural NSW to a Queensland in order to avoid what they describe as ‘vibe destroying’ conditions.

As we reported on Monday, Bohemian Beatfreaks was thrown into limbo when NSW Police withdrew support due to safety concerns, including ‘high-scale drug use’ at last year’s festival, which Beatfreaks vehemently denies. In addition, the festival was quoted with a $200,000 fee for the mandatory police presence — a significant hike from last year’s $10,00 free.

Yesterday, the Land and Environment NSW court ruled in the festival’s favour, meaning that with additional safety conditions, Bohemian Beatfreaks was given the green light to proceed at its venue, a private property in Kippenduff. But faced with the fee and last-minute amendments to the festival space, Rabbits Eat Lettuce (the team behind the festival), decided to head elsewhere rather than risk a likely bankruptcy.

It will now take place on Cherrabah Resort just over the Queensland border, a 3 hour drive from the original site. On Facebook, the festival lamented the move, calling out the NSW Police for essentially pricing them out of the state.

“It is truly a sad state of affairs,” the festival wrote, “when we have government allowing gambling advertising on the Sydney Opera House, whilst music and arts events are shut down by excessive police compliances and User Pay Police requests that are out of step with the nature of these events.”

According to the post, the festival would have had to add perimeter fencing to  separate the festival from bushfire-prone shrub-land. Significantly, they would have also had over 30 police at the 3,000 person event (down from the original 70) at a cost of $105,000.

“This isn’t what Bohemian Beatfreaks is about,” they wrote. “We want all of you to have the best experience possible and we don’t feel this would have been a good festival experience with this heavy handed police approach.”

In a statement shared today with Music Junkee, the NSW Greens have continued to throw support behind the festival. According to Greens MP David Shoebridge, this outcome is proof that “the NSW police are trying to kill off the music festival industry by over-policing and overcharging”.

For Shoebridge and other critics, it’s clear that these fees are the latest prong in the NSW government’s response to the two overdoses at Penrith dance festival Defqon.1 this September.

In response, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian promised to ban Defqon.1 from the state, and subsequently set up a panel on drug safety at music festivals — one which recommended more punitive drug penalties, and did not consider pill testing as a potential solution.

Yesterday, Good Things Festival announced it could no longer let under-18s attend their Sydney event, blaming “exorbitant fees” from the NSW Police.

Bohemian Beatfreaks begins this Friday — information on the venue change is here.