The NSW government’s 2019 music festival regulations are being rescinded

It has been an impressive week for the NSW government, with the Upper House voting to disallow the NSW Coalition Government’s latest music festival regulations.

The regulations, which were brought in without consultation from anyone in the music industry, have been criticised for being “hastily developed”. 

nsw festival regulations
Photo: Dani Hansen

“The Government can now sit down with the industry for some constructive consultation on ways to improve patron safety at music festivals, including steps to reduce drug-related harm,” stated Evelyn Richardson, Chief Executive of Live Performance Australia.

The Government’s stricter festival laws were initially introduced in March this year after an increase in festival deaths. Since then, the regulations have caused significant financial pressure on festivals, with Mountain Sounds festival having to cancel one week prior to their scheduled kick-off.

The Legislative Council Regulation Committee conducted a report last month about the festival regulations, which was followed by an inquiry and resulted in Labour, The Greens and crossbenchers all voting to reverse the strict festival laws.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian thinks the removal of tighter regulations is irresponsible but Shadow Minister John Graham is in favour of the inquiry.

Evelyn Richardson, Chief Executive of Live Performance Australia, has argued that the music industry has been trying to work collaboratively with Government since the beginning.

“Genuine collaboration with industry representatives who have decades of experience in running safe and successful festivals is the best way to promote the safety of festival patrons, while also ensuring NSW continues to enjoy the economic and cultural benefits from a dynamic and diverse music festival industry.”

NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, who also works for Drug Law Reform and Harm Reduction, has introduced a new bill to state parliament about pill testing.

The proposed bill would allow festival organisations to apply for a pill testing licence for their event, with past pill testing trials all being deemed successful.

Pill testing has been a success in the ACT, where there have been no deaths at music festivals where pill testing has been provided and drugs with unsafe substances have been thrown away,” Faehrmann said.

Berejiklian stands firm in her position against pill testing, but perhaps with increased consultation with the music industry, the bill might pass.