Representatives of the New South Wales Government have threatened to shut down music festivals which don’t improve their safety standards after an “unexpected level” of drug-related festival deaths.
NSW Premier Mike Baird has put music festivals on notice, saying they will be held accountable if drug-related overdoses and injuries continue.
As News Corp Australia reports, Mr Baird says he will call on “relevant ministers” to bring in more drug screening at festival entrances, and to also review the system which issues permits for such events.
“Individuals need to take responsibility for their actions, but so do the organisers of these festivals,” he says.
Mr Baird says music festivals which don’t comply with new requirements introduced by the Government would be shut down.
“If new rules and procedures place additional burdens and costs on organisers, so be it — and we will also examine denying permits to organisers who have not done the right thing in the past,” he says. “Enough is enough. This simply has to stop.”
Mr Baird’s comments come after a 23-year-old woman was taken to hospital in a critical condition after allegedly taking MDMA at Sydney’s New Year’s Day festival Field Day earlier this week — an incident which Mr Baird calls “distressing and avoidable”. The woman has since been released from hospital.
NSW Police Minister Troy Grant has confirmed that festivals “could potentially be shut down” if organisers don’t improve safety standards, and says the Government won’t ignore the “unexpected level of deaths” at festivals.
As ABC reports, Mr Grant says the NSW Government will work with festivals to implement changes, but will also look into “putting the onus on these festival organisers to have a better duty of care to the partygoers”.
“We’re not going to say this is going to be an easy task, but it’s about working together and getting that message out there. Education is the key,” he says. “But ultimately, if the events continue to cause deaths, well the festivals will write their own scripts.”
In a Facebook post, which can be viewed in full below, Kim Moyes from Aussie electronic duo The Presets calls the NSW Government’s threats to shut down festivals “nuts”, and says the state “is starting to become a little hard to swallow”.
The NSW Premier and Police Minister’s comments come after 184 festival-goers were charged with drug offences at Field Day on Friday. Eight people were charged with drug supply, including two who were allegedly found with large amounts of MDMA.
In December, 83 per cent of over 10,000 responses to a Music Feeds poll were in favour of Australian festivals introducing drug testing procedures for ticket-holders. Since then, drug experts have discussed what it would take for Aussie festivals to implement effective drug testing.