The recently-launched Australian Festivals Association has weighed in on the mess that is the NSW festivals licensing regime, which the peak body concedes was “too rushed and done without enough consultation.”
In a statement shared Tuesday morning, AFA offers a glimpse at the speedy process leading to the creation of tough new rules which have been blamed for the collapse of the Psyfari and Mountain Sounds festivals. The lobby body also calls on government to relax some of its onerous conditions which, as Bluesfest director Peter Noble warned earlier this week, places the state’s festivals in “peril.”
The timeline of events building up to the Festival License and Interim Health Guidelines is essentially a blur. Following two drug-related deaths at Defqon 1 last September, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called for the event to be shut down, then backpedalled due to public pressure. A so-called “expert panel” was swiftly appointed to look into music festival safety, but was given only four weeks to come up with a report. The music festivals industry barely had a say, the statement explains. During that month, just two festival organisers were invited to give 5 minutes of feedback to the panel, at a single meeting.
The introduction of the new Festival License and Interim Health Guidelines has been “too rushed and without enough consultation or consideration given to the impacts on the industry as a whole or the operational capacity each government branch has to implement these changes,” writes AFA board member and Fuzzy Events Managing Director Adelle Robinson, on behalf of the AFA. “Most significant changes to an industry like this would require a Regulatory Impact Statement to assess the real economic impact on an important cultural sector.”