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Music Festivals Call On Government To Halt 'Rushed' New Laws

Australian music heavyweights have called on the NSW government to halt its "rushed" plans to tighten restrictions on music festivals and events.

More than 30 event organisers and industry leaders attended a "crisis meeting" at NSW Parliament on Monday, where they urged the government to go back to the drawing board on a proposed new licensing regime scheduled to kick in on March 1. 

NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and independent MP Alex Greenwich hosted the roundtable attended by representatives from Psyfari and Mountain Sounds -- two NSW music festivals that cancelled their 2019 events, blaming regulation hurdles and "impossible" financial demands.

Members of NSW's music festival industry are fighting back against what they call a "war on festivals".

"As a direct result of the NSW Government's rushed new music festival licensing regime... numerous music festivals in NSW are being forced to close or look at options outside NSW," the group said in a joint statement following the meeting.

According to the government, the enhanced regulations are a response to a number of deaths at festivals and would tighten licence conditions -- including police and health requirements -- for festivals with a "poor track record and/or heightened risk".

They would compel each operator to apply for a specific liquor licence for its event. This would be considered by a panel including health, police, and liquor authorities.

The guidelines would apply to every festival in the state, besides the Tamworth Country Music and Sydney Festival, and would enforce new rules around policing, ambulance and harm minimisation measures.

READ MORE: Music Festivals Slam 'Disgusting' Regulations As Campaign Brews To Fight New Laws 

READ MORE: 'Just Like The Lockout Laws': Aussie Music Industry Gears Up To Fight NSW Government

But the group claim there has been no public consultation nor "genuine engagement" with industry on the proposed changes.

"There is widespread confusion about the details and impact of the new regime," it said.

It's part of an industry-wide campaign against the state government's "war on festivals" by a collective of artists, festivals, promoters and venues called 'Don't Kill Live Music'.

More than 105,000 people have signed a petition claiming live music is "under attack" from Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Image: AAP.

"Festivals are being used as a scapegoat for years of failed drug and alcohol policy," said the open letter, signed by signed by some of Australia's biggest artists, including Amy Shark, Bernard Fanning, Dan Sultan, Peking Duk, Tash Sultana, Ocean Alley, Violent Soho, Vance Joy and more.

We want our music culture to be safe and inclusive. Onerous and ill-considered regulation will not save lives. And the state government is decimating our music culture in the process.

The letter demands the government convene a roundtable to review regulation affecting live music and increase transparency around policing and medical bills as they work to keep festivals safe.

A protest planned for this Thursday is expected to be draw crowds similar to the thousands who attended rallies against the lockout laws in 2016.

Contact the author ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au

Featured image: AAP