Music festivals are vital to the state’s cultural life, especially in the face of dwindling opportunities to see live music, socialise and dance in Sydney as a result of the lockouts. Like many who have contacted me, I was alarmed to learn of multiple cancelled festivals in NSW due to massive new costs largely for user-pay police. While I’ve seen friendly and welcoming event policing including at last year’s Mardi Gras, I am hearing reports of intimidating and punitive policing with “walls of officers” at festival entrances, as well as drug dogs and strip searches. The safety benefits of over policing are unclear as the evidence shows many punters will take all their drugs quickly to avoid detection.
With Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann, I convened a meeting of festival promoters yesterday where it was made clear to us that operators have not been properly consulted and have received conflicting and inadequate information about the requirements when new licensing laws commence in less than two weeks. Notwithstanding the industry showed a strong willingness to work with government to ensure events are safe, and together we signed a statement calling for the withdrawal of the new licencing provisions and for the government to work with the industry to ensure music festivals remain viable. I have also written to the minister directly. My letter: HERE.
I will attend the Don't Kill Live Music Rally this Thursday 21 February 6pm at Hyde Park and encourage you to go and support live music: HERE. Please note, to ensure everyone who wants to can attend the rally, Cate Faehrmann and I have postponed the Pill Testing Forum planned for this Thursday until Wednesday 20 March.