Aussie live industry: new festival legislation ‘unworkable’
A group of Australian industry organisations has penned an open letter to New South Wales (NSW) premier Gladys Berejiklian over the re-introduction of controversial festival licensing laws which were scrapped just a few weeks ago.
The Australian Festival Association, APRA AMCOS, Music NSW and Live Music Office signed the letter, which accuses politicians of a “total lack of respect for the live music industry” and demands a roundtable meeting to discuss “regulation and safety at music festivals”.
Under the newly drafted Music Festivals Bill 2019, it is an offence for any festival deemed ‘high risk’ by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) to take place without drawing up a safety management plan for approval first. Failure to do so is punishable by a twelve-month prison sentence.
The proposed legislation was drawn up following the rejection of previous licensing laws by the NSW Legislative Council. At the time, the Australian Labor Party stated they would not support any legislation which included a listing of ‘extreme risk’ festivals.
“Labor, the Greens and the Shooters took away these regulations and left nothing in their place. This legislation will rectify that,” comments Berejiklian. “The situation is clear – music festivals identified as high risk under the former licensing system will continue to be high risk under this law.”
“Without serious consultation with our industry this proposed legislation will not work and we do not support it”
In response to Berejiklian’s decision, the collection of industry associations writes: “As you are aware, the live music industry has repeatedly expressed our strong desire to work collaboratively with your government on our shared commitment to safer music festivals.
“The draft bill tabled yesterday is unworkable. The industry was not consulted on the design of this draft legislation. In its current form, it appears to be based on the regulations disallowed by the NSW Upper House which were unworkable for all the reasons outlined by industry. Without serious consultation with our industry this proposed legislation will not work and we do not support it.
“Setting aside the total lack of respect for the live music industry which is the largest contributor by far to NSW live revenue and attendance,” continues the letter, “this draft bill also delivers huge uncertainty for all music festival operators and concert promoters in the lead up to the summer touring season.
“We believe it is imperative that you immediately convene an industry roundtable to develop a workable framework that supports our shared objectives.”
Berejiklian first implemented the regulations in February this year. The laws, which responded to several drug-related deaths at festivals in the region, have proved a point of contention between the live industry, opposition politicians and the government ever since.
On Wednesday (16 October), Berejiklian reiterated her opposition to pill testing at festivals, following a leaked report in which the deputy state coroner recommended the practice.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.