Mountains Sounds cancels, blames NSW government's "war on festivals"

Mountain Sounds Festival cancelled

Revellers enjoy a performance at a previous Mountain Sounds festival.

Earlier this month, when faced with met newly imposed safety, licensing and security costs, Mountain Sounds made a decision to abide by dropping 20 acts from the bill.

"At no time did police or government direct the organisers to cancel the event", she said.

Mountain Sounds was to take place at the Mount Penang Gardens on February 15-16, with Courtney Barnett, Angus & Julia Stone and What So Not headlining.

Safety has always been of the utmost importance to us, and it was for this reason that we agreed to downsize our festival site, cancelling over 20 acts, to ensure we met newly imposed safety, licensing and security costs, in order to maintain the wellbeing of our patrons and still put on the show.

Organisers said "excessive rules, bans on BYO alcohol" and "overly heavy police presences" were not what they had in mind when they started the event - nor were festivals with a ticket price of $500. "This came one week out from the festival and blindsided us as we were quoted for 11 user pay police on 18 January".

Read the full statement below.

This is despite Mountain Sounds actually having one of the better records for drug use, with only 49 people detected during 2018's event.

'We are devastated to announce the cancellation of Mountain Sounds 2019, ' organisers wrote in an emotional statement shared to Facebook on Saturday. Further, the festival was being asked to pay approximately $200,000 for the police upfront.

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"When will our government learn that fear-mongering, bullying and oppressing the youth has never and will never work".

Last year, Good Things had to scrap plans allowing under 18s to attend the Sydney leg of the punk and metal festival due to "exorbitant" costs for added security and police presence.

Meanwhile, boutique festival Bohemian Beatfreaks was hit with a $200,000 fee to have up to 70 officers on-site over three days.

"Our submissions were consistent with last year's operation", writes Mountain Sounds, referring to last year's smooth collaboration with authorities, "yet this year authorities seemed adamant to penalise us on technicalities and clerical errors. It was strongly indicated to us that we were not going to be granted the necessary approvals required for the 2019 event to proceed next weekend".

Festival organisers said Mountain Sounds' cancellation was yet another casualty in "the Liberal party's war on festivals", and urged music fans to remember it in the upcoming state election.

In the wake of five drug-related deaths in six months and ongoing calls for pill testing trials, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed to improve safety at music festivals by introducing harsher penalties for drug dealers and forming an advisory expert panel.

The Rabbits Eat Lettuce festival announced also this week that it'll be moving to Queensland, citing rising costs over two legal battles brought on by the state government.

It's common for events to shoulder costs for a police presence, but the specific number is issued by the Department of Liquor and Gaming, on advice from the NSW Police.

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