Late on Friday night, one of the country’s most established and beloved music events, Laneway Festival, received a notification from the NSW Government that it had been categorised as ‘high risk’. This classification – which was assigned without reference to any assessment guidelines – means that the festival will be subject to as yet unknown regulation by the Department of Liquor and Gaming. It has the potential to cause untold brand and reputational damage and the festival is considering its legal position in relation to this.
The national event has been running successfully in Sydney for almost 15 years. Over 35,000 music lovers have attended the event over the past three years. A total of two people have presented to hospital for known drug or alcohol related issues in that same period.
Organiser Danny Rogers says:
“It’s preposterous that Laneway is categorised as high risk. We are regularly praised for expert operations by the local police, health departments and councillors and attending media. Our audiences are fantastic. They come for the world-class local and international artists.
We are angry that the NSW Government is so dismissive of the industry who contribute so much to the state’s economy and culture. It is a short-sighted political move that panders to the conservative media and vote.
If Laneway can be categorised as high risk without any reference to the Government’s own poorly-defined criteria, then there is a risk that all contemporary music festivals could be categorised in the same way. We implore all our friends of the festival to contact your local representatives and let them know how you feel. Let’s make some noise!”