NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian strikes again. Goodbye, Splendour.
Gladys has been targeting festivals and Sydney nightlife for as long as she’s been Premier, but this is a new low. The government is now going ahead with legislation for a new ‘safety regime’ at festivals, without consulting the festivals where enforcement will take place. This comes after Gladys infamously implemented and then relaxed the lockout laws, labeled Bluesfest as ‘high-risk’ and then back-pedalled, and ignored the Coroner’s suggestion to implement pill testing. Equally concerning are numerous reports of illegal and invasive strip searches at NSW festivals.
In response, the Australian Festival Association has been formed, made up of essentially every major NSW festival: Splendour In The Grass, Groovin the Moo, Laneway Festival, Falls Festival, Field Day, Listen Out, Harbourlife, The Plot. These festivals are considering moving away from NSW following the prohibitive legislation and heavy police presence. Co-director of Laneway Festival Danny Rogers stated: “There are other states outside NSW that are willing to better support our business. We may be left with no choice but to consider our options.” Last year in NSW, more than 400,000 people attended festivals. That’s 43% of the national figure. Festivals are an integral part of the NSW culture and identity, and have even been shown to improve mental health. It is important to let young people enjoy live music and nightlife, but these seem to be the things Gladys hates the most.
The music festival industry is worth $100 million annually, and over 50% of this revenue is generated in NSW. Not only will this be a huge loss to festivalgoers, it will also be a huge economic loss for the government and festival companies. If Gladys’ new legislation goes forward, an entire state’s industry will be wiped out. The Australian Festival Association has stated their goal as:
“Connecting festival industry professionals with stakeholders and regulatory bodies, establishing an organisation that will proactively work with regulatory bodies on behalf of the festival industry, recognising the cultural contribution festivals make to Australian society and will work to uphold the reputation of music festivals in Australia and internationally.”
This does not seem ridiculous. It does not seem impossible for the government to work with festival industry leaders. But to Gladys, it is. And thanks to her lack of cooperation and carelessness as to the economic and cultural loss her actions will cause, festivals in NSW may be a thing of the past.
To see more about this topic, check out the trailer for After the Lockouts II – Gladys’ War On Music.
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