A stinging open letter addressing the NSW Premier’s “unworkable” draft bill on festivals licensing has so far fallen on deaf ears.

A cadre of music industry organisations on Thursday wrote to the Berejiklian Government calling for an immediate round of talks and for a rethink of planned legislation, which has been pilloried for introducing confusion and inconsistencies into the legal framework underpinning the state’s festivals space.

The letter, signed by the Australian Festival Association, APRA AMCOS, Music NSW, Live Music Office, Music NSW, Live Music Office, warns the bill in its current state appears to be based on the regulations disallowed by the Greens, Labor and other Legislative Council members last month in the NSW Upper House, and was done so without consultation from industry stakeholders.

TIO understands representatives of those signatories plugged into a conference call Thursday to discuss the proposed Music Festivals Bill 2019, and the next steps to dismantle it.

“The industry is really, really working hard to get some sort of meeting with the government to provide some sort of sensible way forward,” says one of the speakers on the call, who asked to not be identified.

“We’re supporting our colleagues in the industry and working quietly behind the scenes to make some sort of meeting happen.”

Earlier, on Wednesday, the state government put forward a contentious bill which proposes creating a “safer environment at music festivals” by requiring organisers of so-called “high-risk festivals to comply with approved safety management plans; and for related purposes.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaking about the cancellation of Mountain Sounds

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian talks to reporters

It’s right back to square one, industry insiders say.

MusicNSW chimed in with a social media post which reads. “The Govt has just tabled a bill to re-introduce the music festival regulations that were canned just a few weeks ago. We’re yet to see the detail of the new legislation but we’re disappointed that instead of taking this opportunity to consult with industry and experts, the Govt has once again rushed the process.”

The latest, pan-industry letter pulls no punches. “Setting aside the total lack of respect for the live music industry which is the largest contributor by far to NSW live revenue and attendance, providing thousands of jobs, particularly in regional areas, this draft Bill also delivers huge uncertainty for all music festival operators and concert promoters in the lead up to the summer touring season,” it reads.

For the past year, live music advocates have argued that the restrictive licensing regime pitched by government could bring down the state’s festival business, one promoter at a time.

Without adequate consultation with industry, this legislation “will not work and we do not support it,” the industry bodies write.

Read the letter in full below.

Dear Premier

Please meet with us.

As you are aware, the live music industry has repeatedly expressed our strong desire to work collaboratively with your government on our shared commitment to safer music festivals. Since February this year we have requested that you convene an industry roundtable to discuss regulation and safety at music festivals.

At a meeting on 20 February with government advisors and agency representatives, including from your office, we were assured proper industry consultation would be undertaken post the March election. This has not happened.

We again request that you immediately convene a roundtable to discuss regulation and safety at music festivals. The draft Bill tabled yesterday is unworkable. The industry was not consulted on the design of this draft legislation. In its current form, it appears to be based on the regulations disallowed by the NSW Upper House which were unworkable for all the reasons outlined by industry. Without serious consultation with our industry this proposed legislation will not work and we do not support it.

Setting aside the total lack of respect for the live music industry which is the largest contributor by far to NSW live revenue and attendance, providing thousands of jobs, particularly in regional areas, this draft Bill also delivers huge uncertainty for all music festival operators and concert promoters in the lead up to the summer touring season.

We believe it is imperative that you immediately convene an industry roundtable to develop a workable framework that supports our shared objectives.

If you are genuine about your commitment to better safety at music festivals and saving lives, you will understand that collaboration with industry is the only way to deliver better safety outcomes.

We stand ready to work with you.

Yours sincerely

Live Performance Australia
Australian Festival Association
APRA AMCOS
Music NSW
Live Music Office