Laneway Festival organiser Danny Rogers has criticised the NSW Government‘s decision to label the event ‘high risk’ under its controversial new licensing guidelines, saying the designation is a political move which ignores the festival’s longstanding safety record.
In a statement released this morning, Rogers said the decision to list Laneway Festival among 13 other ‘high risk’ events was “preposterous”.
“We are regularly praised for expert operations by the local police, health departments and councillors and attending media,” Rogers said.
He said the new licensing requirements, which were backed by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian after a spate of drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals, amount to little more than political point-scoring.
“It is a short-sighted political move that panders to the conservative media and vote,” Rogers said.
On Saturday, the Australian Festival Association (AFA) issued a statement saying the organisers of those 14 festivals had been blindsided by text messages notifying them of their ‘high risk’ designations.
Since the Department of Liquor and Gaming has not provided reference details about the new regulations to festival organisers, the AFA said there are fears festivals could be shuttered with very little warning or subjected to “unfair and unreasonable regulations” that “will potentially drive festivals out of NSW.”
The statement also said there was confusion as to why Laneway Festival was even in that ‘high risk’ category.
“A stand out example is Laneway Festival which does not meet the government’s stated high-risk criteria,” the statement said, referencing plans to crack down on festivals with histories of drug use.
“A total of two people have presented to hospital for known drug or alcohol related issues” since the first Laneway Festival in 2005, the festival said in today’s statement.
One person was admitted to hospital in a serious condition after suspected drug use at the festival’s Sydney leg earlier this month.
Laneway Festival is considering its legal standing in regards to the regulations, the statement added.
Laneway Festival’s statement comes days after thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sydney to protest the new regulations, fearing the crackdown and the NSW Government’s refusal to trial pill testing will stifle the state’s vibrant festival scene.
You can peep the full list of festivals hit with ‘high risk’ designations HERE.