Peking Duk, Festival Owners Slam Government Over 'Killing' Music And Events
The NSW government has been blasted in an excoriating message from Aussie music heavyweights Peking Duk, as the country's entertainment industry mounts a fight against "extortionate" regulations on festivals and events.
Peking Duk, a Canberra-based electronic music duo, are one of Australia's most popular and successful contemporary acts -- having won ARIA Awards, recorded platinum sales figures, and headlined some of the country's biggest festivals.
They're also passionate advocates of the local music industry, and on Monday, they fired a blistering social media post tearing strips off the NSW government.
"When there’s no music left it’ll be too late to say something," the duo of Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles wrote.
"It breaks our heart to say the NSW Government has well and truly crossed the line."
The long Facebook post -- which as of time of writing, has 24,000 likes and 5000 shares -- came after NSW Central Coast music festival Mountain Sounds cancelled its 2019 event just days out from its proposed start date.
The festival organisers claimed that, with just days notice, they had been told they "would have to pay an additional upfront amount of approximately $200,000 for 45 user pay police on a 24 hour cycle" -- up from 11 officers they were quoted on January 18.
NSW Police have disputed this, saying the festival had played down the number of people who would be attending, and that police did not direct the organisers to cancel the event.
"The combination of excessive costs, additional licensing conditions and the enforcement of a stricter timeline left us no option but to cancel the event," Mountain Sounds said.
The Mountain Sounds organisers claimed there was a "war" on music festivals in NSW, with their cancellation coming soon after another event called Psyfari -- planned for September -- also announced it would not be going ahead in 2019.
Psyfari organisers claimed the government was waging a "war on festivals" in "squeezing" events to comply with more onerous and expensive regulations.
On Monday, iconic Byron Bay event Bluesfest also said it may be forced to move interstate due to new festival regulations around liquor licences and police, and called NSW a "soon to be barren state".
"I charge the Government with a systemic failure in fairness here," said Bluesfest director Peter Noble, in a letter published on The Industry Observer website.
"I am saying now, Bluesfest will leave NSW. We have no choice; it’s a matter of survival."
Peking Duk wrote a long post on Facebook, criticising the state government for its new rules on festivals. The duo said Mountain Sounds was "extremely special to us" and cited the economic benefits the event had on the local area.
"If you don’t care for enjoyment of people at least appreciate the economic impact of this. Hundreds of festivals workers livelihoods are gone now, from the people behind the scenes setting it up, artists and punters who had booked flights, accommodation," Peking Duk wrote.
"We don’t force roads to close because of road fatalities, we don’t ban alcohol due to (much higher) deaths from alcohol, we don’t shut down casinos because of the trauma and grief they cause to the addicted. So why are you targeting music festivals like this? Why are you targeting the events that give so much back to the community?"
The Australian music community is planning a public backlash against the proposed laws, due to come into force on March 1.
10 daily understands a public campaign against the laws is being organised, ahead of the state election on March 23.
The enhanced regulations, a response to a number of deaths and safety incidents at music festivals, compel each operator to apply for a specific liquor licence for its event. This would be approved, or rejected, by a panel including health, police, and liquor authorities.
"Festival organisers will need to ensure their events meet high safety standards,” racing minister Paul Toole said last month.
“Events with a poor track record and heightened risk will face greater oversight from authorities.”