Members of the New South Wales government are threatening to shut down music festivals in the state who fail to comply with boosted safety standards. The threats come in the wake of yet another drug-related overdose at a NSW music festival.
As The Daily Telegraph reports, NSW Premier Mike Baird has warned music festival organisers that “enough is enough”, saying organisers will be held accountable if “distressing and avoidable” drug-related overdoses continue.
Mr Baird’s comments come after a 23-year-old reveller was taken to hospital in a critical condition after allegedly ingesting MDMA during Sydney’s Field Day festival on New Year’s Day. More than 180 people were charged with drug offences at the event.
Mr Baird says he will be calling on the “relevant ministers” to introduce more drug screening at festival entrances as well as pursuing a review of the system for issuing permits to organisers of music festivals.
“Individuals need to take responsibility for their actions, but so do the organisers of these festivals,” he said. He added that music festivals who don’t adhere to the government’s new requirements will be shut down.
“If new rules and procedures place additional burdens and costs on organisers, so be it — and we will also examine denying permits to organisers who have not done the right thing in the past,” he said. “Enough is enough. This simply has to stop.”
NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant confirmed that festivals “could potentially be shut down” if organisers fail to improve safety standards. He told the ABC the government would be putting “[the] onus on these festival organisers to have a better duty of care to the partygoers”.
“We’re not going to say this is going to be an easy task, but it’s about working together and getting that message out there. Education is the key,” he said. “But ultimately, if the events continue to cause deaths, well the festivals will write their own scripts.”
The government’s plan has already attracted criticism, particularly from those in the dance music community. Kim Moyes, one half of Sydney electronic duo The Presets has since taken to Facebook to label the government’s plan “nuts”.
“NSW is starting to become a little hard to swallow,” he wrote. In the post, Moyes compared drug deaths to the road toll, saying, “I don’t want to trivialize their deaths but no government is threatening to shut down transport.”
Australia witnessed a grim start to the summer festival season, with multiple deaths occurring during the popular Stereosonic music festival, which followed other drug-related deaths at the Defqon.1 and Dragon Dreaming music festivals.
One approach to music festival safety that has been proven to work but that the government seems reticent to trial is pill-testing. As Tone Deaf previously reported, the practice has been commonplace in Europe where it has successfully changed the drug habits of young revellers.