Leaked new regulations from the NSW government organise festivals in a “risk matrix” to determine mandatory fees in purchasing new festival licenses, as reported by News.com.au. This is a “user-pay” system for onsite police and health services; if festivals do not comply, they will be denied a license. This has, of course, led to the cancellation of two NSW festivals already: Mountain Sounds and PSYFARI. Mountain Sounds organisers claimed the government required “$200,000 for 45 user pay police” only a week out from the event, forcing its cancellation. Byron Bay Bluesfest, a giant of the Australian circuit, threatened to leave over the new regulations; premier Gladys Berejiklian assured they would be exempt from the laws because it is a “low risk” festival. It was also suggested that the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and Sydney Festival would be excluded from the laws.
This makes the NSW government’s intention far clearer and far uglier — they are assailing an archaic generational war against “youth” festivals, forcing their business to crumble against boomer safe havens. As if nobody over the age of forty takes drugs. Pitted against the national non-musical debate over whether baby-boomer retirees are entitled to franking credit tax refunds, a pointless intergenerational Us vs Them has formed. Everyone benefits from an unfettered live music scene in NSW — a thriving economy in Melbourne outright relies upon it. Why does the government choose to appease the armchair conservative musings of an older group that do not even go to music festivals?
A new initiative, Don’t Kill Live Music, has launched to push back against Berejiklian’s micro-tyranny, co-signed by some of the biggest names in Australian music: Amy Shark, The Amity Affliction, Courtney Barnett, The Presets, Vance Joy, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Ruby Fields and more. At the time of writing, 58,000 people have signed a petition demanding the regulations be overturned. You can sign it here. It also proposes the following:
- Form a music regulation roundtable to review all regulation impacting live music
- Immediately undertake a Regulatory Impact Statement for any regulation impacting music festivals
- Develop an industry standard with full transparency for user-pays policing and medical services.
- Work with the music industry to develop robust, effective and achievable safety protocols for festivals
The organisation has scheduled a rally in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Thursday, 21st February from 6pm – 8pm. Attend to show your voice to protect a fragile industry. Great music can exist in spite of these regulations — Brisbane’s 70s’ and 80s’ punk rock scene was an anarchic response to corrupt former Queensland premier Jo Bjelke-Petersen’s nascent police state. Great live music does still exist in Sydney obviously; it’s naive to think Sydney’s live music scene last held relevance when The Presets broke out. But all of this will be generationally eroded if youth musical festivals are displaced in the country’s most populated state.