Cost of anti-terror rules ‘decimate’ Murwillumbah Banana Festival

A banana festival in northern New South Wales that has run for the last 64 years has had to cancel its street parade this year due to the cost of implementing new anti-terror ‘hostile vehicle’ measures.

Organisers of the Tweed Valley Banana Festival at Murwillumbah say it will cost them $10,000 to meet the requirements of anti-terror rules which include the installation of safety barriers, a traffic control plan and the deployment of security officers.

Festival co-coordinator Carol Mudge said the cost of meeting the new requirements “has decimated us”.

“As a small festival in a small town, we cannot financially get a traffic control plan, then get cement bollards and then have security officers patrolling the streets, so this year we’ll have the floats at the showground, it might be our last year,” she told the ABC.

“Do we really think that ISIS is going to come to Murwillumbah because they don’t like bananas and try to run our 6-foot banana Jim off the street? I don’t think so.”

Carol Mudge with the festival’s mascot Banana Jim

But NSW police have defended the regulations, which were developed by the Australian-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee, saying organisers, council and police have a duty of care to ensure the safety of attendees

“Police, council, and event organisers have a duty of care to take all steps to ensure the safety of attendees,” the police said in a statement.

Murwillumbah local Carmen Stewart has convened a community meeting to try to save the banana festival parade.

“It’s a great concern that possibly, nationally, this legislation is having an impact on street parades, on community events because if you stop people gathering, you lose just not things that have a heritage, but that’s when trust breaks down in the community,” she said.