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Music Victoria statement on new permit schemes for music festivals

Music Victoria applauds the Victorian State Government for ruling out the possibility of implementing new licensing laws which have seen a number of music festivals in NSW unable to continue. These new laws implemented by the NSW State Government have already resulted in excessive security measures and a damaging economic outcome with no guarantee of safer events.

Australian music festivals are a huge economic driver to the economy. According the Live Performance Australia’s Ticketing Revenue and Performance Report, they contributed more than $100 million to the national economy in 2017. They are a vital source of economic activity and social engagement in many regional cities and towns, and have an important flow on effect to venues through numerous side shows.

Australian festivals don’t exist in isolation; they often share headliner acts around the country, so any harm to the NSW festival industry will damage the entire ecosystem and impact on Victoria.

But we are heartened that the Victorian Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley has gone on the record saying that the government wouldn’t follow down the same path.

“What I can tell you is the New South Wales government’s knee-jerk reaction to regulate the bajeebies out of (festival/music) providers is not a path that we’re going down. They will kill the music scene going down that path,’’ the Minister recently told the Ballarat Courier. The Minister ruled out introducing pill testing at festivals, saying it was a complex issue. “(There’s a) whole lot of other unresolved issues around liability, around certainty of those tests, and around legal obligations that may place the state, operator, or provider in. It’s a complex issue because of all those other unresolved issues and those shifting of resources means we’re not in a position to do so.”

Music Victoria agrees that the issue of pill testing is very complex. Drug use is a broad societal issue and drug taking shouldn’t be linked to music festivals, just as violence should never have been linked to live music in 2010. Festival promoters work incredibly hard to create fun safe events for a wide variety of music fans.

As a peak body, we are privy to both sides of the argument and we understand that it draws passionate responses. We urge all parties to come to the table and have rational conversations to support the development of festivals while maintaining the safety of music fans, and for policy makers to learn from progressive policies in European countries. Music Victoria will continue work with all parties to raise awareness of the issues and promote harm minimalization, and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is writing a new chapter on harm minimalization in the Best Practice Guide for Live Music Venues.

In the meantime, Music Victoria has signed a petition urging the NSW Government to reverse its decision and support live music. You can sign it too at:

Once you have signed the petition get out there and support music festivals by buying a ticket and taking your friends.