Sucked In Gladys: NSW Upper House Votes Down Harsh Music Festival Regulations

The NSW Government is under pressure to come up with new regulations before the summer festival season gets under way.

Music festival regulations photo gladys berejiklian

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

The NSW Upper House has voted to disallow controversial new music festival regulations that were hastily rushed through by Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier this year.

Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy, Labor’s John Graham, moved this morning to disallow (that is, make them ineffective) the two new regulations relating to festivals in NSW — a motion which was carried by the Upper House 21 votes to 18.

It comes after a recent bipartisan inquiry into the regulations recommended the laws be disallowed, arguing there had been insufficient consultation with the industry. The government will now need to come up with new regulations to cover festivals in NSW — and they’re on a tight schedule, given the summer festival season will soon get under way.

“Labor calls on the music festival industry and the government work together to implement updated rules in time for the upcoming summer festival season. We offer our bipartisan support for such an approach,” Graham said in a statement to Music Junkee.

“The NSW Health guidelines should be applied more broadly than the government has currently done so. They should apply to more than just eleven music festivals in NSW.”

Graham’s office stated that upcoming festivals such as Listen Out and This That have indicated they will still operate under NSW Health guidelines. The guidelines, which outline harm reduction strategies, were developed this year following the inquiry into drug related deaths at music festivals.

“The government can now sit down with the industry for some constructive consultation on ways to improve patron safety at music festivals, including steps to reduce drug-related harm,” said Evelyn Richardson, Chief Executive of Live Performance Australia.

“From the outset, we have repeatedly expressed our strong desire to work collaboratively with government on our shared commitment to safer festivals. Genuine collaboration with industry representatives who have decades of experience in running safe and successful festivals is the best way to promote the safety of festival patrons.”

The new regulations were brought in after a tragic summer festival season in five alleged overdoses were recorded at NSW festivals. They grouped 14 NSW festivals into a “higher risk” category — a classification that was based on seemingly ambiguous criteria that even the government wasn’t across.

It put several festivals’ futures in jeopardy, including Laneway, prompting a coalition of promoters and organisers to take the NSW Government to court. Even Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea got stuck into the government about it.

For the moment, festivals can breathe a sigh of relief — at least until the government comes back with their new plan.