Aussie musicians – including Peking Duk, KLP and Alex the Astronaut – have teamed up with industry heavyweights and festivals like Chugg Entertainment, FBi Radio, and Laneway Festival to write an open letter to the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, about her planned expert panel into festival safety, as SMH writes.

In their open letter, signed by more than 65 individuals and groups, which you can read HERE, Aussie musos, academics, health and safety experts, and members of the music industry, led by advocacy body, MusicNSW, wrote that music festival representatives ought to be included “on any expert panel established to consider health and safety issues at music festivals“.

The “high-level expert panel” – announced after two people died of suspected drug overdoses at Sydney‘s Defqon.1 Festival earlier this month – is set to consist of Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant, and Chair of the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority Philip Crawford.

The MusicNSW letter seems extremely reasonable considering the music industry are not only the main stakeholders, but also the people with the most firsthand, practical knowledge of music festivals, y’know, that thing they put on as a job.

As they write:

We are focused on ensuring live music and entertainment is a positive and safe experience for everyone, and the recent deaths due to drug use are heartbreaking and deeply troubling. The safety and well-being of people attending music festivals is of utmost importance. Our expertise, experience, skills and research can assist you.

Any attempt to address concerns about drug use and public safety at music festivals cannot be effective unless music industry representatives are part of the conversation. We already work collaboratively and successfully with numerous state and local authorities and we request that this collaboration extends to participation in, and consultation with, the NSW Government’s ‘Ensuring Safety at Music Festivals’ panel.

The letter goes on to ask that any expert panel actually consult other people who know their shit, like music industry reps, health and safety specialists, and experts in drug research and policy development, and in doing so collaborate with them on an effective strategy for festival safety.

They cap off the letter – signed by a shitload of festivals who know what they’re talking about, from This That to Bluesfest, Lost Paradise to Field Day, and heaps more – with an earnest call to include their inarguably important voice in the conversation.

We are the voice of music in NSW. Please do not shut us out of this important part of the discussion. Together we can develop safe, legal, and practical means for ensuring festivals are safer, enjoyable places for all people in NSW.

The government’s expert panel is expected to come back to the government with their recommendations within a month, analysing what practical action could be undertaken to improve festival safety, looking at the role of festival operators, the possibility of introducing new offences and increased penalties, and whether or not improved drug education would be worthwhile.

The NSW government has also already ruled out pill-testing as a potential harm minimisation method, even if the panel advises the government to consider it as an option.

Seems like a no-brainer: confer with people in the industry you’re trying to regulate for once, please.

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