COMMUNITY FUN: The Mullum Music Festival Street Parade.
COMMUNITY FUN: The Mullum Music Festival Street Parade. Lyn McCarthy

More local events fall victim to music festival uncertainty

MULLUM Music Festival and Bello Winter Music are the latest NSW events that have been impacted by the uncertainty about live music event regulation in NSW.

Event producer of both Bello and Mullum festivals, Glenn Wright, said representatives from NSW Liquor and Gambling or other NSW Government agencies did not contact him last year (as it's been the case with other local events such as Lismore's Tropical Fruits), but they approached him recently.

"Last Wednesday, February 13, we were emailed and I spoke to Liquor and Gaming representatives (on Wednesday 20)," Mr Wright.

"We will need to apply for the license for both our events in NSW."

The producer said he was advised he would receive further details on the licensing process.

"They said that the new license will be announced late next week. That is all. No consultation," he said.

Mr Wright confirmed Bello and Mullum festivals have joined the Don't Kill the Music campaign in NSW.

The fifth Bello Winter Music will be held at Bellingen from July 11 to 14.

Mullum Music Festival occurs in Mullumbimby every November.

Bello Winter Music Festival.
Bello Winter Music Festival. Contributed

The Australian Festival Association (AFA) confirmed the Government will go ahead with implementing the new regulation from March 1.

"Following a meeting yesterday (Thursday) with advisers, we have been informed the Government will not change its position on the implementation of new licensing rules from next Friday," said AFA in a statement.

"Sadly, it looks like NSW will be Australia's first music festival-free zone."

AFA said it will be stepping up its campaign against the new regulation.

"...To make people aware of what is at stake for our music industry as well as business and tourism across the state, and will be urging all parties at the upcoming NSW election to support policies which deliver certainty for the future of music festivals in NSW."

"The impact of the Government's badly designed licensing requirements is already being felt with festival operators shutting down events or facing hugely inflated costs almost overnight to meet the Government's demands.

"Despite statements to the media these changes won't impact 'low risk' festivals, the Government has failed to provide clarity and certainty around its risk categories. It's a fact that well run festivals with excellent safety records are already being affected by these new guidelines." 

Earlier, NSW Minister for Racing Paul Toole announced licences for low risk music festivals will be free under the NSW Government's new licensing scheme to start from March 1.

Mr Toole said the vast majority of music festival operators who have been doing the right thing will not be unduly impacted by the changes.

"NSW has a rich and vibrant music scene - something we want to protect and promote," Mr Toole said.

"Music festivals that have had no safety issues in the past should have no trouble operating under the new scheme, which will help make all music festivals safer.

Under the new scheme, licences for operators of music festivals that are not assessed as low risk will be $650 - the equivalent of the Special Event Licence Fee most festivals already pay - and all music festivals will be required to comply with safety requirements determined by experts from NSW Health and NSW Police, in consultation with festival operators.

"For festivals that have a good track record and good practices in place, it will be largely business as usual," Mr Toole said.

NSW Liquor and Licensing and NSW Racing were unable to provide details of the licensing process after the new proposed guidelines were removed from the NSW Health website on Wednesday.

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