Police Minister Backtracks On “Live Music Industry Is Dead” Comments

After yesterday declaring that the “live music industry is dead”, NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher has said that his comment was “sarcasm” taken out of context.

As the controversial Sydney lockout laws were being passed through both houses of New South Wales parliament yesterday, Gallacher told a parliamentary debate, “I’m sorry, but the live music industry is dead!”

Gallacher continued, “And you only have to look at the ’70s and ’80s to see how prolific [music] was right across the pub scene… The places were packed to the rafters to go and listen to the music and not packed to the rafters for the grog.”

The laws, which will impose 10pm closing times for bottle shops, 1:30am lockouts, and 3:00am last-calls, are seen by many to be threatening the entertainment industry.

A spokesperson for the Police Minister has now told that the supposed sarcasm underlying the minister’s comments was not picked up by parliament’s Hansard.

“Hansard doesn’t adequately translate sarcasm in the middle of a parliamentary debate,” the spokesperson said. “The Minister grew up enjoying the live music scene and is frustrated that so many venues have ditched live music stages in favour of pokie rooms.”

You can listen to the snippet below.

When questioned about whether or not Mr. Gallacher is aware of $1.21 billion dollars and almost 15,000 jobs the music industry brings into the national economy each year, the spokesperson said, “The Minister knows how important live music is to the economy and believes that these new measures will target those individuals that are destroying a night on the town for others.

“We want to see more people venture out and enjoy the entertainment that is on offer and to do this people have to feel safe.”

It’s clear that Australia’s music industry disagrees with the notion put forward by the minister – that people only go to watch live music “for the grog”. Sam Nardo, head bookings manager at Century Venues (which runs the Enmore and Metro Theatres in Sydney) has told Fairfax Media that any limitations placed on live music venues will make it even more difficult for local and upcoming artists.

“The Australian music scene is flourishing and we need more platforms for it,” he said. “A lot of musicians are struggling to make money… A lot of musicians rely on those late night spots.”

The general manager of Frankie’s Bar and Pizza in Sydney’s CBD, Phil Gannon, also posited: “A lot of venues have put a lot of time and effort into re-developing the live music scene… It’s a bit far-fetched to say live music is dead, it makes [Mr. Gallacher] look like he’s quite out of touch.”

The Sydney Late Night Culture Alliance, which aims to ‘Keep Sydney Open’ includes representatives Sydney-based music organisations, state body MusicNSW, community radio, venues and music media. It’s hosting a community forum on Monday, 3rd February, to be held from 6pm at Sydney’s Metro Theatre in George Street.

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