In the wake of this week’s Field Day event in Sydney, which saw a 23-year old woman hospitalised and more than 180 charged with drug offences, NSW Premier Mike Baird has taken an angry spray at festival organisers, telling them to toughen up on drugs or be shut down.

Baird has said that “enough is enough” when it comes to drug-related deaths, and indicated that he will call upon “relevant ministers” within the NSW state government to review the system under which permits for music festivals are issued. He said:

“Individuals need to take responsibility for their actions, but so do the organisers of these festivals. In the light of this latest distressing and avoidable incident, I will be asking the relevant ministers to review the current system of regulating events held on public land, including the system for granting permits for public events such as music festivals.”

The Premier has called for more extensive screening at festival entry points, and added that events that do not comply with new regulations will not be allowed to go ahead, in spite of any costs they may incur:

“If new rules and procedures place additional burdens and costs on organisers, so be it – and we will also examine denying permits to organisers who have not done the right thing in the past. Enough is enough. This simply has to stop.”

Opinion remains divided on how to tackle the growing number of drug-related misadventures at music festivals, from on-site testing and harm prevention through to tougher enforcement and sentences for drug supply. 

Baird’s plan to put the onus more on organisers and threaten festivals with shutdown has already been criticised by some as a “nanny state” solution to a social problem, on par with Sydney’s lockout laws.

The past year has seen the deaths of three young people at dance events around Sydney. 25-year-old pharmacist Sylcia Choi died of an overdose after the Stereosonic festival at Sydney Olympic Park in November.

Her death followed that of teenager Georgina Bartter, who died after a drug reaction at Harbourlife, and 26-year-old Nigel Pauljevic, who died at the Defqon festival.

Story: News Corp
Photo: Matt Blyth / Getty Images