04 November 2019
The government’s key response to recent deaths at music festivals has been to impose excessive and unworkable conditions on events. The changes were drafted without any industry consultation and show a lack of understanding about running a festival, causing significant uncertainty in the industry. After the Legislative Council disallowed the new licensing regime, the government reintroduced the conditions through standalone legislation.
I agree that music festivals should be subject to additional safety obligations to ensure access to adequate medical services, free drinking water and chill out spaces, but some new conditions are absurd and there is too much discretion to determine which festivals will be affected. During debate on the bill, I argued that the best way to keep people at music festivals safe is to introduce harm minimisation approaches like pill testing and decriminalisation and I called on the government to work with the industry to improve regulations. My speech: HERE
Meanwhile, strip searches have become routine at music festivals and train stations with mostly young and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected. These intrusive, humiliating and often unlawful body searches are impacting on the relationship between police and a new generation. Only a third of strip searches result in a charge, the vast majority of which are for possession and the drug dog operations and strip searches are not stopping drug use but are encouraging risky consumption with people taking higher doses or buying from strangers. The Coroner investigating recent deaths at music festivals looks likely to recommend an overhaul of strip searches and in Parliament I again called for a health and evidence based approach to drug use: HERE