Music

Gladys Berejiklian Doesn’t Even Know How Her Own Music Festival Rules Work

Berejiklian told the organisers of Bluesfest that their event was categorised as low-risk. That's not true, according to government's own documents.

Gladys Berejiklian pill testing

It’s been pretty clear for a while now that Gladys “I’ve never done drugs” Berejiklian doesn’t know how to manage festivals, secure Sydney’s cultural future, or keep punters safe.

Berejiklian inherited a war against Sydney’s live music and culture from her predecessor Mike Baird, one that she has waged with considerable and Draconian aplomb.

She’s repeatedly shot down opportunities to introduce pill-testing at Sydney music festivals, despite significant evidence from a number of sources that it saves lives, she’s been indirectly tied to a number of high profile festival closures, and she’s also refused to take responsibility for the role she has played in driving events promoters out of the state.

But now, it’s become clear that not only does Berejiklian have a limited understanding of the effects of the new regulations, but she also appears to not know how the new licensing system itself even works.

Responding to a devastating open letter from Peter Noble, the director of Byron Bay Bluesfest, that revealed Berejiklian and her austere measures were making him consider moving the beloved event out of state, Berejiklian claimed that Bluesfest would be considered a low-risk event.

But according to the government’s own interim documents, that is blatantly untrue. The risk of a festival is determined via a government-issued document that assesses a number of factors, ranging from the number of people expected, the ‘type of people’, and the length of the festival. The assessment is point based: if the festival comes in at under 39 points, it is deemed low risk, and if it hits over 110 points, it is deemed ‘extreme’.

Music Festival regulations

First page of the new music festival point system.

For a start, the document is clearly biased against music festivals. A popular sports event gets 16 points, while a ‘music festival/rave event’ gets 32.

That means by virtue of being a music festival, such events are only 7 points away from breaking over the low-risk barrier. And, worse still, there’s actually no way for a music festival to not garner an additional seven points. The lowest number of points you can score for each section is 1, and there are 18 sections overall.

That means the lowest point score a music festival can hit is 49, placing it in the medium risk category, and that’s only if it’s held in Spring or Autumn, runs less than two hours, and fields less than two thousand punters.

That’s not even to get into how wishy-washy some of the sections are: events promoters have to guess how likely it is punters will take illicit drugs at their festival, ranging from very unlikely (1 point), to probable (16 points), to highly likely (32 points.)

But all that aside, there’s the simple fact that the comments Berejiklian has made regarding Bluesfest reveal that she simply does not understand the categories.

Again, there is simply no way for Bluesfest to hit the low-risk category. It’s a music festival (32 points right there) that’s held over multiple days (an additional 32 points). Even if it then scores 1 in each of the other 15 categories, it’ll come in at 79 points, making it officially a high-risk event.

And, for the record, there’s no way Bluesfest scores 1 in each of the other categories — to do that, events organisers would have to ban alcohol, rule out any risk of ‘Natural and Environmental Hazards’ (whatever that means), and make sure the anticipated temperature is below 25 degrees.

Music Junkee has reached out to the NSW Government for clarification around the regulations — they have yet to respond.