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NSW Police have raked in almost $13 million during the ‘War on Festivals’

The NSW Police Force’s ‘user pays’ scheme has raked in nearly $13 million in the last seven months according to SBS News. The scheme allows off-duty police officers to be hired for covert and overt operations at private events, and comes at the cost of event organisers.

Under Gladys Berejiklian’s ‘War on Festivals’, event organisers have been forced to increase their onsite police presence, which has made music festivals way more expensive to run.

Photo by: Sam Ruttyn

Event organisers say they’ve been unfairly targeted by the stricter regulations imposed on music festivals, citing ‘user pays fees’ as inconsistent.

Rabbits East Lettuce director Eric Lamir-Pyke told SBS News the policing quotes he’d received for the Bohemian Beatfreaks festival (organised by Rabbits Eat Lettuce) were “completely all over the place”.

Having previously been quoted $16,000 for the three-day event,  Mr Lamir-Pyke said organisers were quoted $200,000 in November for ‘user pays’ services. This came weeks after NSW Police attempted to shut the festival down – a move that was turned down by the Land and Environment Court.

“It’s obvious there’s no consistency in regulation in terms of how many police is suited to what size crowd,” Mr Lamir-Pyke said. Bohemian Beatfreaks is a 3000 person event.

“I know of another festival … near the Murray River and their event is three times the capacity of ours, runs for the same amount of days, and I know they’re paying $20,000.” 

“And then for them to whack a $200,000 bill for us when that capacity hasn’t changed or anything, it’s obvious that they don’t think that we need that many police, it’s obvious that it’s a tactic to shut the event down,” Mr Lamir-Pyke said.