Oppose NSW Coalition's Music Festival Policies

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Many of us have been following with dismay the reluctance of the incumbent NSW government to explore the obvious life-saving potential of pill-testing at festivals. Prohibition has not worked in precisely the same way alcohol prohibition failed in previous times. There are many functional models, research data and successful, long-standing methodologies to cope with drug use in civil populations in Europe and elsewhere that maximise safety and human health and minimise casualties from drug harm. Harm minimisation is the way to go and should necessarily lead to a much more evolved and considered approach to recreational drug use based on successful, proven models that treat it as a health issue not a criminal one. The coalition's blinkered and outdated policies are potentially directly contributing to patron deaths at festivals by preventing pill testing. This trend could be reversed by forward thinking policy-making and more trials such as the successful one at Groovin The Moo festival last year. Time for a change of policy or a change of government more in step with safety initiatives proven effective in minimising harm elsewhere on the planet.

Secondly, the new licensing policies applied to music festivals are clearly a recipe for disaster with the likes of Peter Noble (Principal-Bluesfest) speaking out against the policy suggesting it would 'decimate' the festival industry. Many of us agree wholeheartedly. In addition to his statement he hinted at the reality of such an award winning festival, famous worldwide, leaving the state. For the director of a successful mainstream music festival to be making this call is indeed alarming for the entire industry. How will this affect major festivals in regional NSW such as Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival also in the Byron Shire NSW? Will the onerous licensing obligations render them financially unviable too and force them interstate? In addition to politicising Liquor and Gaming NSW to undermine entertainment in NSW It is doubly disappointing to note the use of the NSW police force as a political instrument to effectively shut down smaller music festivals by demanding onerous 'user pays' police budgets well in excess of previous years jumping in more than one case from $10-20,000 to $160-200,000. Small festivals are not able to sustain these sorts of overheads and, as a result, we have lost a number of successful and popular festivals including Psyfari Festival, Mountain Sounds Festival, (with Rabbits Eat Lettuce Festival and Bohemian Beatfreaks Festival moving interstate), that seem to be falling like ninepins under this government onslaught with the potential to lose more, including some that contribute enormously to the local economy. Is this really the policy direction we need or want? I and many others think not and I believe firmly that the recent Newspoll reflects this:

"The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, is facing a minority government or a slim majority after the next election, according to the latest Newspoll:

'The Coalition and the opposition are 50-50 on a two-party-preferred basis, although Labor’s primary vote is up two points to 36%.
The government would be left without a majority if it loses six seats, which is within the range of Wednesday’s Newspoll and other recent polls and raises the prospect of a hung parliament. Labor needs to win 13 seats to form government, requiring a swing of about 9%.'

It is fairly obvious that the Greens and Labor/Independents (second) are far more in tune with the wishes and aspirations of younger, more educated voters on these issues while the Liberal Coalition chooses to wallow in outdated and failed policies that potentially cost lives and destroy culture. It wouldn't take much to convince them to vote very carefully below the line at the upcoming state election to ensure that more progressive and forward thinking policy makers assume office.

If you care about safe music festivals and want them to stay, sign the petition, share it widely, register to vote in NSW and put the Liberal led coalition last in the polls.