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NSW Greens Accuse Police Of 'Price Gouging' & 'Killing' Music Festivals

27 November 2023 | 10:28 am | Mary Varvaris

The behaviour of NSW Police has been perceived as “excessive, antagonistic and uneven in its enforcement”.

Listen Out @ Centennial Park, Sydney

Listen Out @ Centennial Park, Sydney (Credit: Simone Fisher)

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann accused NSW Police of “price gouging” that’s “killing” music festivals in New South Wales in the state’s parliament last week.

Faehrmann cited a music festival that recently traveled through New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland that marked apparent differences in price for policing per state, reporting $107,852 for 16,000 people in New South Wales versus $45,000 for 14,000-capacity crowds in Victoria and Queensland.

Faehrmann called the price discrepancies a “rort”, accusing NSW Police of “killing music festivals” in New South Wales, per The Guardian Australia. “That price gouging is unique to NSW.”

According to the Australian Festival Association (AFA), NSW Police reportedly charged $67,000 for patrolling a 22,000-capacity audience while charging nearly half in Queensland for the same festival ($37,000) for 20,000 people and just $7,500 for a 30,000-capacity crowd in Victoria.

Under the Police Act, NSW Police have the option to use a “user-pays policing services policy”, in which the commissioner has “absolute discretion to set the police resources requirements for an event” and can “demand payment to recover the cost of police deployed”.

A new report into Sydney’s nightlife commissioned by the state government’s 24-Hour Economy Commissioner and undertaken by VibeLab concluded that while Sydney’s venues and creative industries are excellent, the state falls short when it comes to policing.

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Consultations in the report found that the behaviour of the NSW Police has been perceived as “excessive, antagonistic and uneven in its enforcement,” per the Sydney Morning Herald.

NSW Police told the Sydney Morning Herald that it supports a “balanced approach” to policing and aims to service venues with “equity and inclusivity”.

The Guardian also reported that in parliament last week, it heard that 2017-18 NSW Police earned $21.5m from its user-pays services. That profit marked a fourfold increase from the preceding decade.

Last month, rapper Huskii alleged that he was forced to cancel a show in his hometown of Wollongong over pressure from NSW Police.

Huskii claimed that NSW Police had informed him he would have to pay a $30,000 police fee if he wanted to go ahead with the show, which was to be held at Dicey Riley’s.

When asked to comment on the situation, NSW Police told Purples Sneakers: “While police provide safety and security advice to venues, promoters, and other stakeholders ahead of major events, the decision as to whether or not an event will proceed lies with the relevant venue.”

“For additional information about the NSW Police Force’s User Pays system, you can find details on our website.”