Music

Gladys Berejiklian Changes Her Mind, Mostly Rolls Back Ridiculous Festival Rules

What a surprise!

Gladys Berejiklian pill testing

To say that the attempts by Gladys Berejiklian and her state government to introduce new ‘risk assessment’ measures to manage festivals has been rushed and confused would probably be an understatement.

The deeply flawed system of assessment, which is heavily weighted against music festivals, and would have a range of beloved — and historically safe — festivals ranked as ‘extremely’ risky, has caused widespread outrage over the last few days.

Peter Noble, the director of Bluesfest, has been a vocal critic of the measures. He points out that by the government’s metric, Bluesfest would fall into the ‘extremely risky’ category, despite the fact that the event’s audience skews older, and despite the measures organisers have long taken to ensure the festival is as safe as possible.

Berejiklian, for her part, has claimed that Bluesfest would be deemed low risk, a statement that goes against the self-assessment matrix that the Premier’s government oversaw.

Now, in what appears to be an attempt to save face, the government has released a ‘message for music festivals’.

The statement has been designed to excuse the risk assessment measures, claiming that they were loosely directed by “an expert panel to provide recommendations on how to improve safety”.

The self-assessment document itself has been downplayed. “We appreciate there has been some confusion and misunderstanding about the way the new scheme will operate, particularly in relation to the initial self-assessment matrix that was circulated to some festival organisers,” the letter goes. (For the record, it was available freely online.)

The document is, unsurprisingly, now under review.

Ultimately, the statement claims that festivals that have been deemed low-risk in the past will retain that rating, no matter how they actually rank on the self-assessment document. “If you have previously held a safe … festival (unless you are planning significant changes to its usual format) we are highly likely to determine your festival to be low-risk,” the document reads.

“This will mean your licence conditions – including police and health requirements – will not be materially different to previous years.”

Of course, what that means for new, emerging, youth-focused festivals remains to be seen.