Piece by piece, the Australian music industry is turning on the NSW Government

Following the cancellation of beloved festivals Rainbow Serpent and Mountain Sounds last week, musicians, event organisers and media are rallying against the harsh new regulations being imposed upon festivals by the NSW government.

Bluesfest director Peter Noble, Adelle Robinson of the Australian Festival Association (AFA), Peking Duk, and organisers of Rainbow Serpent and Mountain Sounds are amongst the industry figureheads who have spoken out, and no doubt the outcry will continue to flourish.

nsw government music industry
Photo: Dani Hansen

One at a time, figureheads from the Australian Music Industry are rebutting the harsh restrictions being forced upon NSW festivals by the state government.

In an open statement this morning, Robinson spoke on behalf of the AFA, a group comprised of personnel representing Falls Festival, Splendour In The Grass, Download Australia, Groovin the Moo, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival and more:

“The introduction of the new Festival License and Interim Health Guidelines has been too rushed and without enough consultation or consideration given to the impacts on the industry as a whole or the operational capacity each government branch has to implement these changes. Most significant changes to an industry like this would require a Regulatory Impact Statement to assess the real economic impact on an important cultural sector.”

“Music Festivals which are affected by these changes have an estimated combined audience of over 750,000 patrons and contribute millions of dollars to rural, regional and urban communities in NSW. Last minute conditions, increased user pays police costs and liquor licenses that are issued less than 24 hours before an event have contributed to an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty for many event organisers.”

The AFA also outlined a five-point recommendation for the NSW government in order to “ensure the safety of people across NSW and provide certainty for the music festival industry”. This included updates to festival licensing, an online portal for harm minimisation training, a public drug checking and education facility, and the negotiation of emergency service fees ahead of time.

Speaking from the perspective of Bluesfest, director Peter Noble also shared his thoughts:

“I charge the government with a systemic failure in fairness here, and implore all politicians from all parties to quickly become involved with what is a serious injustice.” 

“We, like most events in this state, supply a significant level of culture. We don’t receive a cent from government, even though we cause thousands of people to be employed and bring tens of millions of dollars into NSW through tourism.”

“I ask the Premier, Minister for Tourism and Major Events and EVERY sitting politician, why do you seem to be hell bent on destroying our industry?”

“We provide culture to the people of this state and Australia through our good works.”

“Most festivals haven’t had drug deaths and contribute greatly to our society through presenting well run, professional, world class events. Why have we been given zero recognition in this governments actions?”

“It seems the new policies are poorly thought out and through their implementation will decimate our industry.”

“Should our government not see good sense, then I am saying now Bluesfest will leave NSW… we have no choice… it’s a matter of survival.”

ARIA-winning duo Peking Duk, who were billed to headline the recently cancelled Mountain Sounds, have also thrown their voice into the mix:

“It breaks our heart to say the NSW Government has well and truly crossed the line.⁣

“By introducing a $200,000 “police and safety” fee, an extortionate 1250% increase in which last year was only $16,000 just ONE WEEK out from the festival doors open, NSW Gov. has decided to kill @mountainsoundsfestival . @gladysb says she wants festivals to continue and to grow, how exactly do they grow with a $184,000 increase in police costs? Forcing festivals to pay these costs even though out of 15,000 attendees last year there were only 49 drug detections. 49. There were no drug deaths, no drug violence, nothing to justify an increase in police costs.⁣”

“If you don’t care for enjoyment of people at least appreciate the economic impact of this. Hundreds of festivals workers livelihoods are gone now, from the people behind the scenes setting it up, artists and punters who had booked flights, accommodation etc all the way to the faces you see at Nan’s taco shack and dad’s hat stall.⁣”

“Gladys get your head out of the sand, your policies and viewpoints need a reality check. We don’t force roads to close because of road fatalities, we don’t ban alcohol due to (much higher) deaths from alcohol, we don’t shut down casino’s because of the trauma and grief they cause to the addicted. So why are you targeting music festivals like this? Why are you targeting the events that give so much back to the community?⁣”

“If music, creativity, culture, economy and enjoyment of life itself is important to you, then please on March 23rd DO NOT vote Liberal. They started with killing our venues and now they are setting fire to our festivals.”

“When there’s no music left it’ll be too late to say something.⁣”

Fellow Australian media the likes of Stoney Roads, Music Feeds and more have also been giving the growing issue as many eyes as it deserves. Leading into the state election, there’s no doubt more will elaborate on the many, many reasons something desperately to be done.