The NSW Government has released a statement overnight naming fourteen festivals they have deemed to be "high risk", and stated they will be the only events subject to new widely-panned regulations.
According to Sydney Morning Herald, the music festivals are all in Sydney or Newcastle and include Defqon, Laneway and Lost Paradise. They will have to adhere to the new licensing scheme from 1 March.
The 14 festivals deemed high risk are:
- Ultra Australia
- Laneway Festival
- Days Like This
- Up Down
- Electric Gardens
- Hardcore Till I Die
- This That
- Knockout Games of Destiny
- Lost Paradise
- Rolling Loud
It comes as the government responds to intense pressure from the music industry, including the #DontKillLiveMusic rally in Sydney on Thursday, which saw thousands turn out to show their support, urging NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to drop the policy.
It also follows news that NSW Nationals member, Ben Franklin, broke ranks to speak out against the NSW Government's policy.
Franklin, Nationals candidate for the Ballina electorate, which is home to some of the country's biggest music events including Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival and Bluesfest, issued a statement on Friday calling for the government to "guarantee all festivals within the electorate of Ballina are not impacted by the changes to festival regulations".
"I, like many others in our community have been concerned with the potential changes to festival regulations and the impact that they could have on long standing and very successful festivals in our community," he said.
The Australian Festival Association has also slammed the government's overnight decision saying the whole matter has been a "fiasco" and the government has selected these festivals "without assessment guidelines, and only alerted the festival organisers by SMS last night just before announcing the news via a late-night press release".
“The government’s consultation process on this issue has been a farce – and it reached new heights last night when industry bodies received a copy of the Minister’s embargoed media release and the still incomplete regulations proposal after 10pm. Risk assessment guidelines and reference documents have still not been made available," the AFA said in a statement.
"The process has lacked integrity and transparency - and there are just as many questions left unanswered by the government's latest announcement."
Read the full statement from the AFA in conjunction with Live Performance Australia, Music NSW, APRA AMCOS and Live Music Office below.
“Despite numerous attempts to engage the Government on these issues, our offer to sit down and work through sensible steps to improve safety has fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the Berejiklian Government has adopted a chaotic policy on the run approach to the issue of festival safety.
The government’s consultation process on this issue has been a farce – and it reached new heights last night when industry bodies received a copy of the Minister’s embargoed media release and the still incomplete regulations proposal after 10pm. Risk assessment guidelines and reference documents have still not been made available.
The process has lacked integrity and transparency - and there are just as many questions left unanswered by the government's latest announcement.
Organisers of festivals which have been named in the ‘high risk’ category were getting SMS messages and phone calls from late yesterday evening to let them know they were being subjected to these new regulations.
The Government has named 14 festival organisers, some of whom haven’t been given the courtesy of a discussion about concerns with their events prior to this announcement.
These festivals haven’t seen the guidelines under which they have been assessed, nor given a right of reply.
There remains confusion that these festivals shouldn’t even be in the high-risk category. A stand out example is Laneway Festival which does not meet the government’s stated high-risk criteria.
It’s also not clear how new festivals will be assessed, what discretionary powers will be available and what risk assessment criteria will be applied.
As it stands, any festival can be added to the high-risk category at any time.
It exposes this whole process as a media stunt by the Premier without any genuine commitment to working with us on festival safety issues.
We can’t have any confidence in a government which issues new policy announcements to the media first and by SMS – it’s an insult to the professionalism of our industry and the commitment of festival organisers to delivering high-quality and safe events which are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people each year.
If the Premier was serious about this issue, she would have sat down for proper consultation with us and talk to the experts – the festival organisers – instead of dictating regulations that will potentially drive festivals out of NSW.
We reaffirm our commitment to better safety at our festivals - but we won’t cop unfair and unreasonable regulations without consultation and which will damage the economic and social contribution our festivals make to the NSW economy in our cities and regional areas.”