NSW music festival licensing bill passes

NSW has passed a music festivals licensing regime after concerns about drug use at festivals.
NSW has passed a music festivals licensing regime after concerns about drug use at festivals.

NSW music festival organisers are welcoming the end of a period of uncertainty after the industry got the legislated consultation it wanted as part of a reinstated licensing regime.

Some organisers were considering pulling out of NSW after the Music Festivals Bill 2019 was announced in October over "uncertainty and a lack of meaningful consultation".

But Julia Robinson from the Australian Festival Association said they were relieved on Thursday after the bill passed with a Labor amendment stipulating the minister must establish the music festivals roundtable they wanted.

"Our members are really relieved that we've got somewhere to draw a line in the sand, we can just move on with the summer season," she told AAP on Thursday.

"We'll see how the legislation pans out and we really just want to move forward and work together to make it as workable as possible."

The roundtable will include industry, emergency services and government representatives and support both patron safety and the growth of the industry.

Ms Robinson said it was important that it wouldn't just be dealing with regulatory issues but also the industry, its growth and how it can contribute to the state's economy.

She said with the passing of the legislation, "it feels like the end of what was sort of 14 months of uncertainty".

The state's festivals have been under increased scrutiny after five festival-goers died from suspected drug overdoses from September 2018 to January 2019.

The bill, which requires "high risk" festivals to prepare approved safety management plans, was introduced to reinstate a controversial licensing system which was disallowed in the upper house.

Nationals MP Michael Johnsen on Thursday said it put them in the best position to "not have a summer like we did last year".

"The government is disappointed that amendments were made ... but still feels that this framework is the right way to address broad community concerns around drug use at music festivals," he told parliament.

Mr Dominello said the reinstated regime, which applies to 11 of more than 90 festivals, would ensure organisers met the highest community and health standards.

"The vast majority of festivals are managed responsibly and are safe, however the death and serious illnesses that have occurred compelled the government to act," he said in a statement..

Opposition music spokesman John Graham, meanwhile, described the inclusion of the roundtable as "a victory for common sense".

Ms Robinson said that while the association's members were on Thursday feeling positive, the industry in NSW still had a long way to go after its recent challenges.

"I don't think that we should think that the changes to our industry in terms of festivals thriving and flourishing in NSW will happen quickly but we are determined to focus on that," she said.

"Up until now, it certainly hasn't been a place where you'd want to bring a new festival to market, that's for sure."

Australian Associated Press