The live sector is hailing a “significant win” after the New South Wales Parliament finally agreed to convene a roundtable which, in time, should enable promoters and music professionals to chime in on issues that impact the festivals space.

The industry has been banging on the Berejiklian government’s door for more than a year, without any success. Until this week.

With the passing of amendments to the Music Festivals Bill, the NSW Parliament approved a music festivals roundtable. It’s “fantastic news,” reads a statement from MusicNSW, which has lobbied the government alongside Live Performance Australia, Australian Festival Association, APRA AMCOS and Live Music Office.

LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson was pleased with the result. “Industry has been calling for meaningful consultation for more than twelve months. We’ve also been calling for establishment of an industry roundtable where we can work together to ensure safety at music festivals,” she said.

“We believe it’s important that the consultation process is set out clearly in the legislation. We thank the Parliament for supporting the industry’s call”.

Strawberry Fields Festival 2018
Strawberry Fields Festival 2018

It could have been so much worse.

Despite repeated pleas for consultation with an industry roundtable through the year, government had been steadfast in its refusal to talk.

If government didn’t make meaningful commitments to, at the very least engage, they said, the state’s festival landscape could look like a wasteland.  Industry bodies warned the crackdown on fests could crush events or force them to move interstate to survive. An earlier version of the Music Festivals Bill 2019 was said to be “unworkable”.

Live reps met with Hon. Victor Dominello Minister last month, though big breakthough was elusive. Government then committed to further consultation only after passage of the contentious bill, with zero industry input.

With the amendments to the Music Festivals Bill this week, festivals will now get a seat at the table.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaking about the cancellation of Mountain Sounds
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian talks to reporters

The live sector’s work is only just getting started. “We look forward to Minister Dominello delivering on his commitment to industry, reaffirmed in the Parliament, to convene the first roundtable meeting before the end of the year. We’re ready to sit down and work with government and this industry roundtable provides the mechanism for genuine dialogue,” Richardson noted.

Ahead of this week’s breakthrough, TIO spoke with TEG CEO Geoff Jones about festival industry’s issues with the Berejiklian government.

“The government are not trying to be mean to the entire industry,” he said. “I know that’s not what they’re on about… There’s a lot of work to be done. We’ve got to persevere and keep on fronting up with solutions to issues and try not to be too emotional about it, think about it rationally. The government supports the greyhound industries and horse industries, which at times are (controversial). Our industry would employ exponentially more than all of those. The government needs to care about that, but there’s ways we should be going about it.”