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The Right to Busk with an Amp in Fremantle without a Permit

This petition had 272 supporters

Fremantle has a long history of busking and buskers but recently a policy has been made to prohibit buskers from using amplification on the streets to make their living. For most that do this for a living, this means that Fremantle is no longer a choice for busking because the volume cannot be reached to generate the atmosphere which gives the people of Fremantle their 'free' music.

So today (30/3/2016) I've been stopped from making a living on the streets of Fremantle at Shanghai foodcourt as a busker with an amp. Amps are now prohibited as I have been told by a council representative who first saw me on the cameras overlooking the food court. I will not sit quietly and let this happen. The people were happy to have me there and the shops were happy to have me there but a policy prohibits my actions. If I don't have an amp I cannot be heard amongst the constant stream of buses, motorbikes (lots of them now in Freo) and cars. I stand for the right to busk in Fremantle with an amp without a permit and I will not stop hassling the council until I get that right BACK. Here is a petition that the council must pay attention to or face mass public disapproval. Fremantle has lost most of its culture due to gentrification and it seems this is the last straw to a city that holds a namesake for being 'an alternative living hotspot'. Let's save the culture of Fremantle!

This policy is being enacted right after a weekend of highly amplified busking for a busking festival which attracted local and international acts.

Thanks for getting involved,

Matthew-Joel of the Sforcina Family
Chairperson for the Buskers Rights Association (
Performing as Montego Ikarus (
0426 039 200

**EDIT - 1/4/16

Got a call back from the council. The person regurgitated the policy that stipulates no amplification to be used, which has been on the website for two years.

Before yesterday in practice, when busking on the streets of Fremantle I have been told by council officers that if I want to use an amp I can busk on Market street and in the market area (around the foodcourt).

Their enforcement of the 'no amp' policy has only been used in places like the high street mall, and even then - only when they feel like it or when they receive a complaint from a shop. 

I understand there is a small minority of 'problem buskers' but they are not the majority and their actions do not speak for us. We (the buskers that make a living from this and provide a service) were not consulted. There has been no communication.

NOW. The policy is policed in full force - no amps allowed at all. I am told by Brad Pettitt that they are planning to impose a permit for amps. I told him that this is not a solution - as it will impinge on the spontaneous busking culture of Fremantle which is one of the things that make Fremantle great.

Here is the letter I sent to the Herald - 

Hello Fremantle Herald,

I'm expressing my desire for a write-up for the following issue:

I'm a local busker that makes a living off busking. I was busking at Shanghai Foodcourt yesterday for people and shops happy to have me there, I have been doing this on a regular basis for months and have had no issue in the past. Then I was approached by two men claiming to represent the council telling me that busking with an amp is now illegal in Fremantle. They told me I had been seen on the cameras overlooking the foodcourt.

Right after a busking festival and the council decides to do this! What a joke!

I know there are 'problem buskers' but banning amplification is not the answer. There is a mentality in shop owners that believe all buskers are nothing more than beggars. I take offence to this. I offer a service.

In amongst the cars, buses and motorbikes it is impossible to be heard without an amp. In the past amplification has been allowed on Market street and the market pitch area including the food court.

A possible solution is putting a noise level restriction enforced using a Decibel metre. This will not increase the workload of the council helper people as they already check on buskers and scour the streets regularly. A warning system would be suitable.

How do we stop new policies that benefit only the upper-middle class in the dieing culture of Fremantle?

I have started a busker's rights association found here

I have started a petition -

I don't get money from the government. I am not an alchoholic. I am not addicted to any illicit drugs. I subsidise my busking income with work at a bar two days a week. Not the other way around.

Thank you.

*** EDIT 2/4/16

There was a write-up @ WA Today

There's a massive thread on the Freo Massive Group on Facebook - full of lots of hearty discussion:

We have 197 supporters on the petition as at the writing of this email:

I had a 6PR interview yesterday afternoon which identified the issue as a couple of 'problem buskers' who can be dealt with, with laws that already exist. eg Causing a public nuisance. Meaning no new policies or regulations are  required.

I squeezed this out of Brad on the Freo Massive thread:
"Recently there was an unfortunate internal misunderstanding whereby some City staff were informed a total ban on amplified busking had been put in place. This saw a performer being asked to switch off his amplifier. There are no plans to ban amplifiers."

Numerous performers actually were asked to do this over the past week. And if you call being threatened by having your gear confiscated 'asked' then let's just replace the word 'asked' with forced and it will be inline with reality.

And, ""You can continue as you were until we consult, sort out details and put in place a process. Apologies for confusion. Brad."

I hope they don't have too many more of these 'internal understandings' which affect real people making a real living out of busking.

Brad has proposed a permit for amps:
The issue with a permit, even for amps is that shop owners who see all buskers (regardless of who they are and what skill level and what volume level) as beggars and impinging on profits, will over-use their new power to complain and complain until a busker is banned from Fremantle. And yes, there are shop owners that are convinced a cleaner street and a better Fremantle means no buskers and no street vendors. It also means less people because people come to Freo for the street culture, and in turn less profits for them (sense?). Fremantle is famous for its street culture, destroy its notoriety and you destroy a reason to come here. Looking down the street in non-festival times - Freo needs all the people it can get at the moment.

And voilah! Within a day, we are now able to use amps again.

Buskers will now be consulted for policies that affect them before they are made.

Wonderful result for the first objective of the Fremantle Buskers Rights Association ( Our aim can be stated as this - "We stand for the right to busk in Fremantle with an amp without a permit. We aim to be directly approachable by the local community and co-operative with its needs without a need for policies to govern our practices."

The letter that is being sent to Brad's email directly by the signing of this petition still stands and we need as many signatures as possible.

Thank you for all that got involved! What an effort!

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