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February 3, 2023

Festival organisers take police to court

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Rabbits Eat Lettuce is appealing a NSW Police decision to withdraw support for its festival permit. Photo supplied

Rabbits Eat Lettuce Pty Ltd (REL) has taken the NSW Police to the Land and Environment Court to appeal its decision to withdraw support for the three-day Bohemian Beatfreaks festival.

The event is due to take place this coming weekend, November 23 – 25, at the Rabbits Eat Lettuce ‘Home Ground’, just under 50 kilometres south-west of Casino on a private Kippenduff property.

Richmond Police District acting inspector Toby Lindsay told local media on Friday he had a ‘considerable list’ of safety concerns.

But REL director and Bohemian Beatfreaks organiser Erik Lamir-Pike said the company was ‘confident’ the event would be run safely and ‘our history has proven this’.

He said REL had successfully conducted five previous events at the venue over the past three years with the support of police, NSW Ambulance, the RFS and Richmond Valley Council.

That was then: Bohemian Beatfreaks organisers say they have always been on good terms with police. Photo REL

‘NSW Police have attended all previous events held at the site and had good things to say’ he said.

In September 2015 REL obtained a five-year development consent from the Council to host two multi-day, music, art and camping festivals annually.

Since consent was granted, festival organisers say there have been ‘no serious incidents’ and ‘not a single ambulance transfer for drug or alcohol overdose’.

Nanny state

Mr Lamir-Pike said REL had ‘a long history of actively working with the police to create a safe environment’ and ‘invited police attendance at the events’.

But he said Richmond Chief Inspector Cameron Lindsay advised REL late last month that NSW Police would be withdrawing support for the event ‘partially on the basis of a comparison with the festival and Defqon.1’, a Sydney based techno festival where earlier this year two deaths took place and over 700 people sought medical attention.

‘Our festival is a three-day camping festival; it’s one tenth of the size and very different to the DefQon.1 event in Sydney,’  Mr Lamir-Pike said.

‘It seems the NSW police are becoming opposed to dance music festivals across NSW. If this was a Barry Manilow concert I doubt this would be happening – NSW is becoming a nanny state.

‘The safety of our guests and the surrounding community has and always will always be our number one priority, we take this responsibility seriously.’

‘We are confident that the festival is safe to proceed and is adequately resourced by our emergency management plans, site security, medical resources, fire management plan, harm reduction processes and on-site facilities,’ Mr Lamir-Pike said.

The event, which boasts three themed stages and a line-up that includes 20 international artists as well as ‘a host of Australian talent’, has sold around 2,400 tickets.

A police spokesperson said that as the matter was still before court he was unable to comment.

‘We hope to get an outcome either tomorrow or Wednesday morning,’ he said..

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  1. If there has been no trouble in the past, why anticipate there will be? Cancelling at late notice seems a very drastic action, unless the police have some “inside information”. And if they do, they should share this with the organisers and give them a right to respond.

  2. Conflating the culture of Defqon 1 and something like Rabbits Eat Lettuce is a false equivalency, pure and simple. These groups are nothing alike and applying the same measures just because the music is electronic is absurd.


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