Festivals want NSW licensing regime halted

Organisers of NSW music festivals are meeting to discuss proposed licensing laws.
Organisers of NSW music festivals are meeting to discuss proposed licensing laws.

More than a dozen stakeholders from the music industry are calling on the NSW government to halt plans to introduce a new licensing regime for festivals.

Festival organisers and industry stakeholders, including representatives from the cancelled Psyfari and Mountain Sounds festivals, on Monday met at state parliament to discuss the proposed licensing scheme due to start next month.

They want the new regime delayed until after a coronial inquest into the deaths of five people from suspected drug overdoses at NSW festivals since September.

A consensus statement from the "crisis talks", hosted by NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, calls on the government to "go back to the drawing board" and properly consult with festival organisers before developing fresh regulations.

"There has been no public consultation and no genuine engagement with industry on the proposed changes," the statement reads.

"There is widespread confusion about the details and impact of the new regime."

Nathaniel Holmes from Architects of Entertainment, whose clients include Laneway Festival, Splendour in the Grass, Mountain Sounds and FOMO, said he didn't have any confidence that the government would heed the call.

"But we're very interested to see what the next steps will be and hopefully we'll have enough support behind us that they'll actually listen to us," Mr Holmes told AAP.

The statement also backs a petition signed by more than 106,000 people demanding the government convene a roundtable to review regulation affecting live music, be more transparent on policing and medical bills, and work with the industry to keep festivals safe.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government wanted to ensure high-risk festivals where people have died or been seriously injured are complying with the law.

"This is good news for the industry because it means by safeguarding the high-risk ones the industry can thrive and grow into the future," she told reporters on Monday.

In a statement, Psyfari organiser Steve Demian said the proposed regime "almost comes across as a form of punishment for events which don't sit right with certain authorities".

It comes as Pill Testing Australia, the experts behind a 2018 pill testing trial in Canberra, are offering state and territory governments across Australia a free pilot program.

Ms Berejiklian remains staunchly opposed to pill testing, claiming there is no evidence to show it will save people's lives.

Australian Associated Press