Tough new licensing regulations for music festival organisers in NSW

Music festivals in New South Wales will have to be licensed under tough new regulations following a string of drug related deaths at festivals across the state.

From March organisers will have to apply for a specific liquor licence, similar to those for pubs and clubs, for each music festival they hold which is targeted to the risks of the event.

Each application will need to be approved by a panel of experts, envisaged to include NSW Health, NSW Police, NSW Ambulance and Liquor and Gaming

“Festival organisers will need to ensure their events meet high safety standards,” Minister for Racing Paul Toole said in a statement.

“Events with a poor track record and heightened risk will face greater oversight from authorities.”

The move comes following a recommendation from a panel set up after five young people died taking ecstasy at festivals recently. Interim measures are already in place including “chill-out zones” staffed with doctors, nurses and paramedics where festivalgoers who feel unwell can go for advice or care. Organisers are also required to provide free water stations.

However, the NSW Government is resisting a rising call for pill testing at music festivals, instead putting all the onus on the festival organisers.

“It’s not enough for them to wash their hands and say it’s all the government’s responsibility, no, they need to take responsibility as well,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians joined the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as well as the former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer have all called for pill testing to be allowed at festivals.