14 music festivals in NSW have received the highest risk rating under new licensing regulations, sparking fears for the future of the Australian state’s live music scene
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Organisers and promoters of festivals including Days Like This and Lost Paradise are taking legal action against the NSW government in response to “higher risk” rating
By Anna Grace on 01 Mar 2019
A coalition of music festival operators and promoters are taking the New South Wales government to court over new licensing regulations.
The organisers of Lost Paradise and Days Like This festivals are among those taking legal action against premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government. Both festivals feature on the list of 14 “higher risk” festivals released by the authorities earlier this week.
Festivals placed in the highest risk category are set to be the most affected by the government’s new regulations, which incur significant licensing and security costs. “Higher risk” events must supply a safety management plan in order to receive a license from the independent liquor and gaming authority.
Other companies involved in the collective legal action include Division agency, touring agency and marketing company, Novel, and event promotion company, Finely Tuned.
The group issued a statement, calling the decision to classify their festivals as higher risk “misguided and unwarranted” and the criteria used to do so “flawed”.
“It is a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction from the state that has caused severe damage to the festivals, our hard-working staff, and the hundreds of thousands of responsible attendees. We are disappointed that we were not properly consulted by the state prior to their making this damaging announcement,” reads the statement.
Days Like This spokesperson Jason Ayoubi adds that he is “perplexed and astounded” that the festival appears on the list of higher risk events.
“There was a real opportunity here for the NSW government to consult with an industry that generates over AUS$1.8 billion a year to come up with ways we could potentially improve safety at festivals,” says Ayoubi. “Instead they have chosen to vilify 14 individual festivals without any discussion.”
“It is a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction from the state that has caused severe damage to the festivals, our hard-working staff, and the hundreds of thousands of responsible attendees”
The founder of Sydney-based St Jerome’s Laneway festival, Danny Rogers, has also threatened to take legal action, stating it is “preposterous” that his event should appear on the list.
“It has the potential to cause untold brand and reputational damage and the festival is considering its legal position in relation to this,” Rogers announced to Australian radio station Triple J on Tuesday.
Another festival featuring on the “higher risk” list, Up Down, responded by sending the NSW premier a formal invitation to the festival.
“Did you hear? UP DOWN is on the festival ‘naughty list’ and we haven’t even had a chance to party yet!” reads a post on the festival’s facebook page. “In honour of making Premier Gladys B’s’ infamous list, we’re renaming our hugely popular ‘buy four get one free’ ticket offer to the ‘Gladys’ Party Pack’.”
The government continues to defend the new licensing regulations, which were implemented following a series of suspected drug-related deaths at festivals in the state.
“Most operators, including operators of higher risk festivals, are committed to safety and work hard to do the right thing – now they will have access to more expert advice and support to help them run safer events,” a government spokesperson told The Music Network.
Industry bodies including the Australian Festival Association, Live Performance Australia and Music NSW, as well as leading figures such as Byron Bluesfest founder Peter Noble, and Live Nation Australia chairman Michael Coppel have criticised the measures.