After local police expressed a desire to see the Rainbow Serpent festival banned, festival director Tim Harvey has come to the defence of the event, which takes place annually in Lexton, Victoria.
Appearing recently on 3AW, Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said he is contemplating shutting down Rainbow Serpent, saying local police are “fed up” with antisocial behaviour surrounding the event.
As Tone Deaf previously reported, police caught 40 drivers leaving the festival under the influence of drugs, one driving under the influence of alcohol, and most shockingly, four sexual assaults were reported.
However, Harvey insists the overwhelming majority of the six-day festival’s 16,000 attendees behaved responsibly, highlighting the double standard between music events and other entertainment staples like the AFL Grand Final.
“We, as festival organisers, face the same issues that impact general society and that includes a minority of people who don’t always do the right thing,” the festival director said, via Scenestr.
“Police have advised us, through the media, that approximately one in eight drivers out of over 300 tested leaving the festival returned positive drug results.”
“It’s a matter of public record that police roadside testing around Melbourne over the Grand Final weekend returned similar results. In fact, one in three drivers in just one suburb alone were found to be impaired that weekend but no one is calling for the Grand Final to be banned.”
As Tone Deaf has previously noted, road-side drug testing is an often inaccurate practice as it does not compare readings to a baseline of impairment but instead flags drivers regardless of the amount of drugs in their system.
Meanwhile, Pyrenees Shire mayor Michael O’Connor said the event’s future is sound: “From council’s point of view the event will be reviewed as per the usual process and there is nothing I have seen at this stage that would indicate the future of the festival should be in doubt.”
Internationally recognised toxicologist and drug safety advocate Dr David Caldicott praised the event’s health services, saying, “I have to say it was one of the most impressive endeavours in this country. I think they’re doing it as well as anyone in Australia is; I think it’s one of the best practices in Australia.”