Labor believes that the rushed and panicked implementation of the Government’s festival licence scheme and the associated fee price hikes are confused and untenable. They risk killing an industry that is very important to the events and tourism industries of our state. 

The massive fee hikes and licence conditions are an effective ban on festivals. We have been informed by industry participants they are concerned that licence fees may rise by more than one hundred times, and imposed with little or no notice. In one instance a festival organiser reported having their fees go from $11,000 to $200,000.

NSW Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham said: “This doesn’t work for our state’s young people. This doesn’t work for our state’s economy.

Opposition Leader, Michael Daley, said the Berejiklian Government had a record of getting things wrong.

“Whenever the Government faces a difficult choice their temptation is to lash out, blame someone or ban something. Now it is the festivals’ turn. This is not Labor’s way.

“Life should be fun. People have a right to go to music events and know they will be safe.  That can only occur with sensible regulation and good faith consultation between the Government and the industry.”

Music festivals are a significant economic contributor to the state with almost 400,000 people attending a contemporary music festival in NSW in 2017. Music festivals were the third largest contributor to ticket sales revenue ($55 million) in NSW in 2017 after contemporary music concerts and musical theatre.

Labor in government will immediately consult with the festivals sector, including with the Australian Festivals Association, and relevant government agencies about the future of the licensing regime.

Labor would do so according to the following principles:

  • Any costs borne by festivals should be subject to full transparency and negotiated ahead of time, not after the event.
  • There should be a clear understanding of the impact of the licensing on festivals, including a full Regulatory Impact Statement.
  • We support harm minimisation measures for festivals including adequate on-site emergency care, and appropriate policing.

In addition Labor will make these changes:

  • Fees and costs charged to festivals, like any other government charges, should be subject to full transparency;
  • Labor will ensure any new licence process is streamlined to ensure that approvals are provided in a timely manner. This will mean organisers can spend less time on regulatory matters and more time creating the best and safest experience for audiences;
  • Event organisers with an established record will be able to obtain multi-year approvals for festivals. This will provide certainty and allow long-term planning for organisers.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Music and the Arts Economy found:

  • The regulatory environment for festivals is so complex that organisers believe they cannot afford the cost of navigating regulatory burdens without public funding; and
  • Festival organisers are frustrated by having to make annual licence applications for events which do not change significantly year after year.

Labor will invest $4 million to support music festivals and events in NSW and get a licensing system right.

As part of this festival investment, Labor will:

  • Expand support for ARIA Week and the ARIA Awards in NSW through Destination NSW;
  • Provide $700,000 to the Sydney Fringe Festival; and
  • Create a NSW Music Week/Awards to specifically recognise musicians from NSW. Labor will consult with the industry about the timing of this event.