A report from the ongoing inquiry into New South Wales’ “hastily developed” music festival regulations has called for the state government’s festival license program to be abandoned.
The strict licensing regulations for music festivals, which have been blamed for multiple festivals in New South Wales being forced to cancel, have been criticised for their implementation without consultation or involvement with the industry. The inquiry also received evidence that regulations were distributed late on a Friday night just a week before their implementation, and impacted festivals were notified via text message, or not at all. The report called for the regulations to be disallowed by NSW Legislative Council.
The inquiry was conducted by the Legislative Council’s Regulation Committee, and was chaired by Labor MLC Mick Veitch. It contains members of the Government, Opposition, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party and the Greens. They heard from key industry stakeholders during the inquiry process, including the Australian Festival Association, the Live Music Office, and Live Performance Australia.
NSW Labor has welcomed the report and its findings, with Shadow Minister for Music John Graham saying Labor supports the recommendations.
“I call on the Government to immediately establish a regulatory roundtable to work hand in hand with the industry. These festivals will be safer if government and the industry work together. That hasn’t happened,” said Graham.
“We don’t support the hastily developed music festival licence. It has done tremendous damage to music sector, here and around the country. Importantly, we need a new regime in place for the upcoming summer festival season. The government should meet with the industry to immediately get this in place.”
“Labor will offer its support to measures that are properly developed. Crucially we support the continuance of the NSW Health Guidelines for Music Festival Organisers: Music Festival Harm Reduction.”
Key findings and recommendations from the report included:
- That the consultation process for the Liquor Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019 undertaken by the NSW Government was inadequate.
- That the development and continual improvement of the NSW Health Guidelines for Music Festival Event Organisers: Music Festival Harm Reduction is a positive step in addressing drug and alcohol related issues at music festivals.
- That the NSW Government immediately establish a regulatory roundtable for music festivals, with the participants to include Liquor & Gaming NSW, NSW Health, NSW Police Force and other relevant government agencies, industry representatives, Local Government NSW and health related/harm minimisation groups such as Harm Reduction Australia.
- That, based on broad industry support, the Legislative Council disallow the Liquor Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019.
- That the NSW Government put in place immediate measures to assist industry in the upcoming music festival season, including establishing the regulatory roundtable as set out in Recommendation 1.