Australia's Biggest Music Festivals Could Ditch NSW Over 'Punitive' Laws
Organisers of popular music festivals are considering moving out of NSW due to concerns over government attempts to reinstate a controversial licensing regime.
The Australian Festival Association said it is worried about the "punitive effect" legislation would have on the live music industry in the state.
Those behind the Laneway, Groovin The Moo, Listen Out and Field Day festivals have now put their names to a statement saying they might have no choice but to abandon doing events in NSW.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants high-risk festivals to again be required to prepare safety management plans. The controversial scheme was disallowed in the upper house last month when Labor, the Greens and the Shooters joined forces to defeat the government bill.
In October, the new Musical Festivals Bill 2019 was introduced to the lower house by Customer Service minister Victor Dominello.
Danny Rogers, co-director of the Laneway Festival, said there are other states which are "willing to better support our business".
"Our industry generates over $1 billion nationally and employs thousands of people, especially in regional NSW... [but] we may be left with no choice but to consider our options," Rogers said.
The Australian Festival Association (AFA), Live Performance Australia and APRA AMCOS met Dominello on Monday, but said while the government had committed to further consultation around the bill, it had stopped short of agreeing to establish a roundtable on the legislation.
In a joint statement, released by the AFA on Tuesday, organisers cast doubt on the future of the industry in NSW.
"Uncertainty and a lack of meaningful consultation has a punitive effect on our businesses, the creative economy, jobs and tourism in live music in NSW," it said.
"As a result, members of the Australian Festival Association will now consider their futures in NSW."
Adelle Robinson, managing director of Fuzzy -- which operates a number of events including the nationally-touring Listen Out and Sydney's New Year's Day festival Field Day -- said festivals were unhappy about a lack of communication with the government.
"We have reasonably asked that our industry be consulted prior to any regulatory changes. The music industry has repeatedly offered to work with government and has, since February this year, called for an industry roundtable to be established to develop a workable framework," Robinson said in the statement.
"Yet again, last week we saw new legislation for music festivals introduced by this Government without any consultation."
Rod Little, co-director of Cattleyard Promotions -- which runs the regional Groovin The Moo festival -- said the state government was "condemning the future of Festivals not only operating successfully, but thriving in NSW."
"It will be music-lovers in NSW that will ultimately miss out,” he said.
Earlier this month Berejiklian said her government wouldn't back pill testing despite the deputy state coroner recommending drug checks be made available at music festivals across NSW.