/Bluesfest is forced to move out of Byron Bay by NSW government crackdown on music festivals

Bluesfest is forced to move out of Byron Bay by NSW government crackdown on music festivals

An award-winning music festival will move out of NSW ‘for its survival’ after the state government slapped it with massive licencing fees.

Bluesfest is scheduled to hold its 30th edition in Byron Bay over the Easter weekend with 100,000 patrons, but can’t afford the extra hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Director Peter Noble said despite being named the best major event in NSW three years in a row, the festival was declared a ‘high risk’ event.

Bluesfest will move out of NSW 'for its survival' after the state government slapped it with massive licencing fees

Bluesfest will move out of NSW 'for its survival' after the state government slapped it with massive licencing fees

Bluesfest will move out of NSW ‘for its survival’ after the state government slapped it with massive licencing fees

In a scathing open letter, director Peter Noble accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured together in 2017) of being 'hell-bent' on destroying festivals

In a scathing open letter, director Peter Noble accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured together in 2017) of being 'hell-bent' on destroying festivals

In a scathing open letter, director Peter Noble accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured together in 2017) of being ‘hell-bent’ on destroying festivals

‘We have no choice, it’s a matter of survival. Will the last festival to leave NSW please turn out the light of culture in this soon to be barren state?’ he said.

Bluesfest is the third in a week to buckle under proposed legislation to crack down on music festivals after five revellers died from drug overdoses this summer.

Organisers would face huge extra costs for bigger police presence and medical facilities, and bear liability for anyone who overdosed at the event.

Mr Noble said he and every other festival organiser had no say in the new rules and no notice to prepare for the massive extra costs.

Bluesfest is scheduled to hold its 30th edition in Byron Bay over the Easter weekend with 100,000 patrons, but can't afford the extra hundreds of thousands of dollars

Bluesfest is scheduled to hold its 30th edition in Byron Bay over the Easter weekend with 100,000 patrons, but can't afford the extra hundreds of thousands of dollars

Bluesfest is scheduled to hold its 30th edition in Byron Bay over the Easter weekend with 100,000 patrons, but can’t afford the extra hundreds of thousands of dollars

Mr Noble said despite being named the best major event in NSW three years in a row, the festival was declared a 'high risk' event

Mr Noble said despite being named the best major event in NSW three years in a row, the festival was declared a 'high risk' event

Mr Noble said despite being named the best major event in NSW three years in a row, the festival was declared a ‘high risk’ event

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society

In a scathing open letter, he accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian of being ‘hell-bent’ on destroying festivals.

‘I charge the government with a systemic failure in fairness here, and implore all politicians from all parties to quickly become involved with what is a serious injustice,’ he wrote.

‘Why do you seem to be hell-bent on destroying our industry? We provide culture to the people of this state, and Australia, through our good works.’

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society. 

‘It seems the new policies are poorly thought-out and through their implementation will decimate our industry should our government not see good sense,’ he wrote.

‘I have in my 50 years in presenting music never experienced such poorly thought out, unbalanced legislation. 

‘Surely a professional governing body could do better. It’s the Lockout Laws Version 2 for festivals.’

Bluesfest focuses on blues and soul music with acts like Paul Kelly and Iggy Pop on the list for this year’s edition. It does not have a history of drug deaths.

Bluesfest focuses on blues and soul music with acts like Paul Kelly and Iggy Pop on the list for this year's edition. It does not have a history of drug deaths

Bluesfest focuses on blues and soul music with acts like Paul Kelly and Iggy Pop on the list for this year's edition. It does not have a history of drug deaths

Bluesfest focuses on blues and soul music with acts like Paul Kelly and Iggy Pop on the list for this year’s edition. It does not have a history of drug deaths

Under new rules, organisers would face huge extra costs for bigger police presence and medical facilities, and bear liability for anyone who overdosed at the event

Under new rules, organisers would face huge extra costs for bigger police presence and medical facilities, and bear liability for anyone who overdosed at the event

Under new rules, organisers would face huge extra costs for bigger police presence and medical facilities, and bear liability for anyone who overdosed at the event

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society

Mr Noble said most festivals had no drug deaths and were not recognised for presenting well-run events that contribute to society

Mr Noble’s announcement was hot on the heels of two other festivals cancelling their 2019 editions because of the impending legislation.

Mountain Sounds, which was to run at the Mount Penang Parklands in NSW Central Coast this weekend, buckled under a $200,000 security bill.

Organisers said increasing police from 11 to 45 and other measures demanded by the government made the fee far in excess of the $16,000 it paid last year.

‘This is yet another example of the government’s war on festivals,’ organisers wrote in a Facebook post announcing the cancellation.

Days earlier, dance music festival Psyfari was also cancelled, blaming excessive rules, bans on BYO alcohol, overly heavy police presence and a general lack of freedom.

‘We are unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when festivals are the new scapegoat of a failed government and their failed war on drugs,’ organisers wrote.

PICTURED: SIX YOUNG REVELLERS WHO DIED FROM SUSPECTED PARTY DRUG OVERDOSES IN JUST FIVE MONTHS  

MARLI CARTMER-CONGIU 


Marli Cartmer-Congiu took liquid ecstasy for the first time at a house party in Sydney’s inner-east on Saturday night, her friends said. 

A short time later, she collapsed. Her friends called an ambulance and she was rushed to hospital, but she couldn’t be saved. 

ALEX ROSS-KING


Alex Ross-King, 19, died in hospital on January 12 after attending the FOMO festival at Parramatta Park.

The Central Coast teenager’s family have pleaded with the NSW government to introduce pill testing reigniting the debate over its effectiveness.

JOSHUA TAM  


 

Joshua Tam, 22, died in hospital on December 29 after attending the Lost Paradise music festival near Gosford.

His family have helped set up a clothing label in the young rugby league player’s memory with proceeds going towards drug education for young Australians. 

CALLUM BROSNAN


Callum Brosnan, 19, died after attending the dance music festival Knockout Games of Destiny on December 9.

He was found at a train station near the festival at Sydney Olympic Park but later died in hospital.

JOSEPH PHAM


Callum Brosnan (pictured left) and Joseph Pham (pictured right) both died after suspected drug overdoses at festivals late last year 

Joseph Pham, 23, from western Sydney died in hospital from a suspected drug overdose on September 15 after the Defqon.1 festival.

Weeks before his death he shared a Facebook post from a group called ‘Sniff Off’ who advocate for no sniffer dogs, pill testing and drug legalisation.

DIANA NGUYEN


Diana Nguyen, a 21-year-old from Melbourne, also died after Defqon.1 on September 15 from a suspected drug overdose.

Ms Nguyen was engaged after her finance had proposed in Hawaii during her 21st birthday in April.

A coronial inquest has been launched to investigate the five deaths which occurred at music festivals.     

Two more deaths may be examined at the inquest.