Music festivals may cancel NSW shows if costs of policing remain out of step with other States


The high price of policing a music festival in NSW may force organisers to go elsewhere for their events, according to the Australian Festivals Association.

It has been a bad year for music festival promoters with a swathe of music festivals cancelling due to a combination of poor ticket sales and rising costs.

But the Australian Festivals Association says the extra costs around police security are adding to the problem.

“If we are seeing the likes of Groovin the Moo cancel their tours, what hope does a small independent regional festival have at surviving the economic changes? That’s why we need government support,” the festival association’s Australian Festivals Association managing director Mitch Wilson told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Every line item on costs is contributing to the lack of viability in festivals going forward, and from a government and regulatory perspective that is substantially higher in NSW than elsewhere.

“When the industry is asking for a partner in government and the government is piling on the costs and making for a difficult regulatory environment in which festivals are struggling to stay afloat, is it any wonder festival operators are wondering if it’s viable to continue to operate in NSW?”

Wilson said if festivals start cancelling their NSW leg it will be hard to bring them back.

Organisers of music festivals in NSW have to submit medical and harm minimisation plans which may lead to greater policing requirements under legislation introduced in 2019. Police officers at events cost $144 per hour inclusive of GST, with that cost billed back to the festivals.

Speaking in Parliament, Greens MP Cate Faehrmann used the example of a festival that was hosted both in Victoria and NSW, with the policing costs in NSW 12 times more expensive than Victoria.

Arts Minister John Graham said it is “certainly of concern to me that we are so out of step with Victoria”.

“It is one of the things potentially driving festivals out of NSW, and it is a tougher environment as a result,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I can guarantee that it’s under close examination, and it’s an area where the government is looking to act at these festival charges in general.”