Lost Paradise, Electric Gardens, Psyfari festival organisers plead NSW government for delay of new licencing scheme


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The statement was released after industry representatives convened at NSW Parliament House on Monday for what they dubbed a “crisis meeting”, hosted by Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann and independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich.

The statement called on the government to “go back to the drawing board and undertake thorough consultation with the music industry before developing any new regulation”.

“This should also be informed by the findings of the coronial inquest into deaths associated with festivals which is scheduled for June 2019,” the statement said.

But Ms Berejiklian was unmoved by calls, with a spokesman from her office confiriming the March 1 deadline would not be pushed back.

The Dragon Dreaming Festival, Electric Gardens Festival, Lost Paradise and Psyfari were among the festivals to sign the statement, along with Australian Festivals Association and Music NSW.

There has been mounting agitation within the industry since the Berejiklian government released its interim guidelines for music festivals in December in response to a series of drug-related deaths at various events.

Australian music icons, including Bernard Fanning, Vance Joy and promoter Michael Chugg, last week signed an open letter, declaring the government was “killing live music in NSW”, while a  petition calling on the government to stop “its attack on live music” has gathered 70,000 signatures.

Late on Wednesday last week, the state government released a statement to festival organisers admitting there was confusion with the new guidelines and offered to “meet one-on-one with music festival organisers for detailed discussion”.

It followed a warning from the organisers of the award-winning Byron Bay Bluesfest that the event would be forced to relocate to another state if the NSW government proceeded with the regulations.

Ms Faehrmann said, based on the interim guidelines, festival organisers were concerned about “massive increases” in compliance costs in order to satisfy new policing and security requirements, and the provision of “over and above” medical experts to staff on-site medical tents.

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“We’ve heard from the department today that we will have 24 hours to see what this regulation is. This whole process is a farce,” Ms Faehrmann said.

“It will kill music festivals across NSW if you don’t delay it,” Ms Faehrmann said.

“Let’s delay it beyond the 1st March and beyond the election.”

Mr Greenwich said the industry was not opposed to regulation, but wanted clarity on the new requirements.

“You can’t organise a community event, you can’t organise a music festival, you can’t run a business unless you know how much things are going to cost,” Mr Greenwich.

“If we over-regulate music festivals, what will happen is we will have an increase in underground festivals, which are not as safe.”

The Labor opposition has also criticised the festival licencing regime as “rushed and panicked”, and has promised to establish a new Music Industry Office to grow the state’s music industry.

Lisa Visentin is a state political reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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