A Sydney rally protesting crippling new licensing rules in New South Wales is planned for this Thursday.
The rules require festivals to meet several new licensing requirements, including covering the cost of an increased police presence. Mountain Sounds, one of the cancelled events, initially required 11 "user-pay police," according to a Facebook statement. However, one week out from the event, they were told they would need to pay an extra $200,000 for 45 police officers.
This extra fee came after Mountain Sounds, which is held on the Central Coast, agreed to downsize, cancelling 20 acts in order to meet added safety, licensing and security costs.
"We have always considered our relationship with the local police a positive one," said organisers. "Thanks to our comprehensive planning, Mountain Sounds has never had any serious drug-related incidents."
Psyfari, another cancelled event, was due to celebrate ten years with its 2019 edition. Held outside Lithgow, a town 150km west of Sydney, Psyfari's organisers blamed "excessive rules, bans on BYO alcohol and overly heavy police presences" for the cancellation.
The clampdown follows a string of highly publicised drug deaths at festivals, beginning with two at Sydney's Defqon.1 hardstyle event in September 2018. In response, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed that her government "will do everything we can to shut this [festival] down."
The cancellations also come amidst public debate about pill testing, a solution offered in response to the drug deaths backed by the Australian Medical Association.
Don't Kill Live Music, an organisation launched to fight the clampdown, has organised a rally for this Thursday, February 21st. It leaves from Hyde Park in Sydney's city centre at 6 PM.
Revisit our coverage of a recent Sydney rally demanding safer drug policies.