SYDNEY, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Australians gathered in Sydney's Hyde Park on Thursday evening to protest the state's regulation of live music which many believe could cripple the industry.
Guidelines for music festivals brought in by the New South Wales (NSW) state government at the end of last year have so far required organizers to pay thousands more in licensing due to their events being considered a risk to public safety.
However some festival organizers are concerned that even events with good past records are being affected to the point where they will be unable to continue operating.
The new rules are a reaction to the drug related deaths of five young people at festivals over the summer which sparked widespread concern and public debate as to whether events should offer drug testing facilities, a measure that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian strongly opposes on the grounds that it will encourage drug use.
"Music festivals are an important part of NSW's music scene and the economy -- and the NSW government wants them to continue to thrive," the premier's office said in a statement, "we just want them to be safe."
Prior to the rally on Thursday, Racing Minister Paul Toole said that music festivals deemed 'low-risk' would not have to pay more for licensing than they do now and that those which are 'high-risk' would pay a 460 U.S. dollar license fee.
However a number of NSW music festivals have already been canceled citing exorbitant fees, and many organizers are concerned that the rules are too unclear and will still negatively impact their events.
Calls have been made for better consultation with those in the industry to determine how to keep events safe and the culture of live music alive throughout the state.