Will the NSW government shut down music festivals due to drug use?

Following numerous drug-related deaths at music festivals, events have been threatened to be shut down if the safety of those attending aren’t improved according to the New South Wales Government. The announcement comes after a 23 year old woman was hospitalised after allegedly taking MDMA at Field Day on January 1.

NSW government festivals

The woman in question has since been released from hospital, but New South Wales Police Minsiter Troy Grant has maintained that the government will work closely with festivals to make changes. In a statement he said “”We will be working together to look at how, if possible, the NSW Government can contribute to making these events more safe for the patrons, but also about putting the onus on these festival organisers to have a better duty of care to the partygoers.

So if there’s measures that organisers can make or bench marks that we could set that they have to overcome to make it the safest venue possible then that’s what we will be expecting of them.” However Minister Grant did confirm that if such standards were not met, “They could potentially be shut down“. Stating that the government would not stand by as people put themselves at risk at music festivals, Minister Grant said it was up to festival goers and organisers alike to make a change before more drastic measures had to be taken.

The Minister’s stance was echoed by Premier Mike Baird, who has said “Enough is enough“, and that now relevant ministers will now review the system to issue permits to festival organisers. “In the light of this latest distressing and avoidable incident, I will be asking the relevant ministers to review the current system of regulating events held on public land, including the system for granting permits for public events such as music festivals” he said.

The Premier continued saying “If new rules and procedures place additional burdens and costs on organisers, so be it — and we will also examine denying permits to organisers who have not done the right thing in the past“.

Festival drug-use has caused an uproar following the deaths of Sylvia Choi and Stefan Woodward at last year’s Stereosonic festival, at the Sydney and Adelaide legs receptively. Their deaths have sparked a debate around drug culture and how to combat the problem. Many have not taken this news well, which is understandable given the knee-jerk reaction the situation has received from the state government considering it is quite similar to the lockout laws that strangle Sydney’s nightlife.

Minster Grant maintained that shutting down a festival however would be a last resort. “It’s everybody’s individual responsibility not to take drugs and put a gun in their mouth or play Russian roulette with God knows what they are going to ingest,” he said.

We’re not going to say this is going to be an easy task, but it’s about working together and getting that message out there. Education is the key. But ultimately, if the events continue to cause deaths, well the festivals will write their own scripts

Story first seen on ABC Online