Defqon Festival Cancelled 'Indefinitely' After Venue Pulls Support
Controversial music festival Defqon has cancelled its 2019 event and is uncertain "if and when" the event will ever return.
The annual dance music festival claimed the Sydney International Regatta Centre, where the event has historically been held, had withdrawn its support.
It comes just months after the festival came under national scrutiny, following suspected drug-related deaths and illnesses at its 2018 event.
Organisers said in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon that "despite our best efforts, we have been unable to secure a suitable replacement venue for the event to take place this September".
The festival noted that, until a suitable alternative location is found, the festival will not be going ahead in the future.
In September 2018, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian threatened to shut down the festival following two suspected overdose deaths of a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man at the festival.
"I never want to see this event held in Sydney or New South Wales ever again -- we will do everything we can to shut this down," she said at the time.
The deaths were the first in a spate of suspected drug-related deaths at NSW festivals, which sparked a pill-testing debate amongst politicians and researchers nation-wide, and led to the state government introducing strict new rules around events.
A NSW coroner's inquest into the deaths is still ongoing.
Berejiklian has so far staunchly refused to institute any legal pill-testing at festivals, despite calls from peak medical bodies that the practice would save lives.
The Defqon announcement came the same day as a state government public inquiry into the introduction of controversial licensing regulations.
The new regulations, introduced in the wake of the festival deaths, require event operators to meet a hefty checklist of safety requirements around numbers of police, health workers and more -- new rules which some festivals have claimed are incredible expensive, and which other festivals have blamed for having to cancel their events.
The shadow minister for the music, John Graham, claimed the legislation was rushed through parliament and could lead to the termination many festivals.
"Just 91 days after introducing them and the Government has supported referring its own regulations to a committee for review. We welcome the Government’s change of heart on this ill-thought-out, heavy-handed approach," he said in a statement.
The Berejiklian government has agreed to formally investigate its own licensing scheme during the upcoming public inquiry and members of the festival industry and the public are encouraged to make submissions.