Official Inquiry Calls For The Abandonment of ‘Hastily Developed’ Festival Regulations

A report from the ongoing inquiry into New South Wales’ music festival regulations has called for the state government’s vexed festival license program to be abandoned.

Photo Credit: The Grab

The exceedingly strict licensing regulations put in place for music festivals have resulted in the cancellation of countless popular festivals in NSW and have been widely criticised for their immediate implementation without the consultation and guidance of actual music industry officials.

In FIB’s first special feature documentary, After The Lockouts: The Search For Sydney’s Missing Nightlife, we explored the many devastating effects that these laws have had on the night life and overall vibrancy of Sydney. Precincts that once were social hubs for Sydney locals and tourists alike, instead turned into ghost towns with strict curfews. We also said goodbye to festivals that drew these crowds in.

Now it appears this inquiry has found evidence to support the facts that the music industry has known all along.

The inquiry, which was conducted by the Legislative Council’s Regulation Committee, also found that the distribution of information of the program was severely lacking in efficiency. Many festivals that were affected by the new license program were notified via text message, or not at all. Information and regulation that did get sent out were distributed late on a Friday night, just a week before its hasty implementation.

The NSW Labor Shadow Minister for Music, John Graham, released a statement confirming Labor’s support of the inquiry’s recommendation to abandon the licensing program.

Graham stated that he “welcome the report and its findings” and called on the government to “immediately establish a regulatory roundtable” with the industry to establish a new regime in time for the upcoming summer music festival season.

“We don’t support the hastily developed music festival licence. It has done tremendous damage to music sector, here and around the country. Importantly, we need a new regime in place for the upcoming summer festival season. The government should meet with the industry to immediately get this in place.

The safety and enjoyment of festival goers is our top priority and we are now keen to engage in a collaborative and constructive partnership with Government agencies to develop and implement a regulatory regime which achieves this,” said Graham.

Some other key findings from the report included that the consultation process for the Liquor Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019 undertaken by the NSW Government was inadequate and should thus be disallowed by the Legislative Council.

The report further recommended that the NSW Government immediately establish a regulatory roundtable for music festivals, with the participants including Liquor & Gaming NSW, NSW Health, NSW Police Force and other relevant government agencies, industry representatives, Local Government NSW and health related/harm minimisation groups.

Here at FIB, we’re with the music industry on this one, and have been from the beginning. The threat that the Liberal NSW government posed to Sydney’s live music and festival scene was intentional and calculated, which has been proven by their hasty implementation of the licensing program and their hushed method of communication with the music industry itself.

We explore these findings further in our sequel to the renowned After the Lockouts documentary film, After the Lockouts: Gladys’ War On Music. The sequel that takes a look at these ill-conceived laws that attacked the music industry head first, is soon to be released.

Take a look at the special teaser trailer down below.

All we can hope for now is that the Liberal Government heed the recommendations made by the report in order to reinstate the glimmering and bold nightlife that Sydney once had.

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