Music

The NSW Government’s War On Music Festivals Has Claimed Another Event

Despite operating for 9 years without an incident, the festival was hit with a wave of new regulations.

festival cancellation gladys berejiklian

The beloved Northern Beaches Music Festival has announced that it will be pulling the plug on their 2019 edition, citing NSW licensing laws as the primary reason for the cancellation.

Festival organiser Paul Robertson shared a statement to Facebook late last week, saying the decision was made following a meeting with council representatives and licensing regulators.

“It is with great regret and sadness that I have to announce that The Northern Beaches Music Festival 2019 has to be cancelled,” he wrote. “This is all due to the overt application of licensing laws now imposed in NSW.”

Robertson notes that despite operating for nine years without incident, and historically only requiring one security guard on the site, they were unexpectedly hit with a request for more security personnel.

“On top of this they require the bar operator to have specialist highly paid inspectors to patrol the festival at all times to ensure the health and safety of all patrons. On top of this it is expected that a security guard be at each gate to do bag searches. It is also expected of us to monitor underaged people as they are required to be with their parent or guardian at all times.

“This means that a 17-year-old cannot be at one stage if their parents are at another. It has also been demanded of us that we take security responsibility for a 50 metre perimeter outside the festival fence.”

The extra regulations would have cost the festival — which is a small, not-for-profit folk and roots festival — more than $6,500 to implement, an impossible ask for the community run event. As Robertson explains, the sponsor, Modus Operandi, had no choice but to pull out, as they wouldn’t have been able to make a profit.

“I am by nature a resourceful and resilient optimist but this has just knocked the community spirit out of me and I really don’t see how a “not for profit “ music festival such as ours could ever survive with these restrictions,” Robertson finishes. “The notion of looking for a solution at this late stage is not an option. It would put too many people at risk. We hope you can understand the situation and thank you greatly for your support and involvement.”

The Australian Festival Association has today released a statement addressing the festival’s cancellation, writing that it is making enquiries in the hope to get the event back up and running.

“After the Government’s attempt to placate a united industry by reducing the music festival licence to a higher-risk list of 14 festivals prior to the NSW State Election, festivals are still facing uncertainty and inconsistency from authorities trying to navigate the new landscape,” the statement reads.

“We continue to call for the new regulations to be removed now that the business of gaining votes is behind us. The industry is strongly committed to safety at our events and is still willing to work with Government on implementing sensible and effective, evidence-based measures developed through a proper consultation process.”

The festival is the latest victim in the NSW Government’s war on festivals, which has already claimed Mountain Sounds, Bohemian Beatfreaks, and Psyfari.Music Junkee has reached out to the NSW Government for comment. Read Paul Robertson’s statement below.


Northern Beaches Music Festival Statement

Dear friends,

It is with great regret and sadness that I have to announce that The Northern Beaches Music Festival 2019 has to be cancelled. This is all due to the overt application of licensing laws now imposed in NSW.

This announcement follows a meeting held yesterday with the Licensing Police, representatives from the council, our committee and Modus Operandi who have agreed to be our bar operators and a major sponsor.

It took a great deal of effort and time to find a bar operator and licensee who was willing to take on the cause. They have spent the last several weeks negotiating with the licensing police and OLGAR (Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing), which climaxed in our meeting yesterday. Despite the fact that we have been operating for nine years without any incident or complaint, particularly on this site with a licensed bar 2012- 2014, where we were only required to have one security person on site , we are now required to have one security guard for every hundred people – which indicates 5 guards as our maximum capacity at any one time would 500.

On top of this they require the bar operator to have specialist highly paid inspectors to patrol the festival at all times to ensure the health and safety of all patrons. This means that Modus Operandi would be struggling to make a profit and has therefore understandably withdrawn their sponsorship funding and indeed it may not be economical for them to operate at the festival.

On top of this it is expected that a security guard be at each gate to do bag searches. This is coupled with an imposed proof of identity at the ticket office. We are also required to colour code wrist bands for proof of age. It is also expected of us to monitor underaged people as they are required to be with their parent or guardian at all times. This means that a 17 year old cannot be at one stage if their parents are at another.

It has also been demanded of us that we take security responsibility for a 50 metre perimeter outside the festival fence.

To add more cost we are required to hire and install a water fountain even though all of the rooms in the Tramshed complex have filtered water on tap and the bar has a licence requirement to have water as well.

All in all this has basically added six and a half thousand dollars to our upfront costs. This is just one hurdle too many.

I am by nature a resourceful and resilient optimist but this has just knocked the community spirit out of me and I really don’t see how a “not for profit “ music festival such as ours could ever survive with these restrictions.

The notion of looking for a solution at this late stage is not an option. It would put too many people at risk. We hope you can understand the situation and thank you greatly for your support and involvement.

Yours sincerely and sadly
Paul Robertson