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October 19, 2021

Local concert series organiser hit with $5,000 fine

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When local musician Lisa Hunt arrived for a meeting with police last Thursday she was hoping for a somewhat friendlier reception than she had received on the last occasion.

Having watched her community concert series, SummerStage, nearly drowned by a sea of red tape and regulations recommended by two licensing officers, she was looking for the burden to be eased when she met with the officers.

Instead they greeted her with a $5,000 fine.

While Tweed-based police are making it hard for the Summerstage concert to go ahead, organiser Lisa Hunt says she has borrowed money to ensure it does. Photo Jeff Dawson

The fine, they said, pertained to some dancing in the crowd at the January 9 event– an alleged breach of COVID-19 regulations.

Ms Hunt was shocked, upset and angry.

Paid police for services

It wasn’t simply the fact that there had only been around 300 people at the concert in question and that they were spread out across a whole football field– Byron’s Red Devil Park.

It was also that the two police officers engaged by Ms Hunt under the state’s User Pays policing system had been present at the event for the entire day but had reportedly given no indication to anyone that regulations were being breached.

It was a licensing officer who arrived much later – one of the two staff responsible for recommending that the event be subject to tough regulations – who eventually issued the fine.

The Penalty Infringement Notice handed to SummerStage organiser Lisa Hunt after police allegedly noticed a group of people dancing at one of the concerts. Image supplied

‘I feel like I’m living in some kind of local mafia movie; getting shaken down, trolled and targeted,’ Ms Hunt said.

‘And all of this while I’m actually trying to do something good – putting on a concert series for local people, employing local musicians and raising money for the Red Devils Rugby League Club.

Ms Hunt says she will challenge the fine and will be represented by prominent local lawyer and activist Mark Swivel from Barefoot Law.

‘There were two police officers there for the entire show – why didn’t they say something if regulations were being breached?’

Ms Hunt also questioned why the police had waited nearly a month to formally issue the fine.

She received the penalty a day after speaking out inThe Echo about the severe financial impact of the tough regulations imposed by Byron Council and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing following recommendations to this effect by police.

These regulations included significantly reducing the number of concerts in the series, imposing expensive parking and toilet requirements, and $3,796 to hire two police officers for the weekend’s two shows.

‘To put this in perspective, the entire takings for the weekend was $18,790,’ Ms Hunt said.

‘The cost of meeting the conditions demanded by the police, council and OLGR was $13,358. When you take out the $5000 fine as well that’s $432 left for everything else.’

Going ahead with shows

‘Even though this has been incredibly hard for me personally and financially we are going ahead with the shows – live music is for our souls,’ Ms Hunt said.

‘The community needs this, I need this, and we’re really just hoping people come out, have a great time and support live music.’

The next two concerts are on this Saturday and Sunday (Feb 13 and 14) from 4pm-10pm. For more information and tickets visit the SummerStage website.

Police response

When asked about the fairness of their actions toward Ms Hunt, NSW Police provided the following statement:

‘About 7.35pm on Saturday 9 January 2021, officers attached to Tweed/Byron Police District attended a music event at Bangalow Road, Byron Bay.

Upon arrival, officers observed several alleged breaches of the Public Health Order, including groups standing and dancing and patrons not being appropriately socially distanced.

Police also observed an alleged breach in the event’s limited liquor licence, with the absence of an RSA Marshall at each bar service area.

Officers spoke with event management and the event licensee at the event and acknowledged the breaches of both the Public Health Order and the Limited Liquor Licence.

Officers returned the following day (Sunday 10 January 2021) for a second day of the event, and observed the breaches of the Public Health Order had been rectified – with event security asking patrons to remain seated and socially distanced.

Following extensive inquiries, the 36-year-old male licensee was issued with an infringement notice for the offence of licensee fail to comply with conditions of licence.

Following additional inquiries, a 59-year-old woman was issued with an infringement notice for fail to comply with noticed direction in relation to 7/8/9 – COVID19 Corporation.’


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12 COMMENTS

    • Saturday 4pm Gates with Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) and Locals Andy Jans Brown and Coz*Mic and Sophie Ozard

      Sunday at 3pm Gate notorious Lisa Hunt/ The Feramones and The Byron Divas Of Jazz.

  1. Two Police Officers were there from the start. 4 pm. The event was required to pay for them to be there under User Pay System. an 8 hour shift for a 5 hour event.

  2. Upon arrival, officers observed several alleged breaches of the Public Health Order, including groups standing and dancing and patrons not being appropriately socially distanced.
    Really..this is all they got.
    Well, that sums up about 50% of the Australian Tennis crowd when their play wins a point..
    What t about those in the crowd at the T20 finial the other night and whilst you are at it…don’t forget the A league supports behind the goal carrying on when their team has scored a goal..
    It seems that the Police and the Covid marshals are going to have their job cut out for them when Bluesfest starts up at Easter..if the cops go by those precidents that they observed, well the Bluesfest organisers will be sent broke after one day.
    Lisa..crank up a “go Fund me page”..there would be a heap of lawyers roaming around Byron itching to do some Pro Bono work wanting to contest these fines..

  3. But look around you, look at crowds at markets, the new Eat Street in Bangalow was so packed my friends didn’t wait in the long queues to buy food and left,
    not a cop in sight , the cafes, the Beach Hotel, sure, appears spaced, but people mingle if they know each other, they are walking through close past tables just to go from A to B, to me its so crowded it’s hard to get through, a couple of gals stood up and jiggled to the music, pounced on diplomatically by a staff waiter, but honestly the squealing, cackling, laughing, loud yelling to talk above the too loud music, would expel more droplets than a jiggly dance. Plus a 5 piece band spewing out droplets from a high stage, over all and sundry, And cafes so crowded, sure they are seated, but the street is full of tables that I almost bump into to walk past and push through the groups waiting outside since slaves to good reviews just have to come here even if it means waiting in the hot sun to finally get a table or cushion, when others depart, I say to them with a wry smirk, (I’m like that) there are other good cafes you know, just cos this place has good reviews, inferring the insanity of human herding to be in the “in crowd”. Look at the artisan market, people everywhere. Don’t come to the Community Centre where the courtyard is so small the crowds at the bar are not spaced.
    I remember in the news early in 2020 a hotelier in the bush was fined thousands cos the only three people in the whole pub, were standing at the bar, not seated, and not spaced. There was no covid in that town. And there’s none here in town. If the beach parties before Xmas and the crowds on new year didn’t bring it then it’s not here. Stop witch hunting and persecuting!!! If a policeman fines a cyclist sans helmet, when 99% of riders do not wear one it is called “indiscriminate policing “, this is what is being done to Summer stage. Plus do police social distance?

  4. As far as I’m aware there are only two unlimited things:

    1) the Universe
    2) the depth & breadth of human stupidity

    & of the first I am not so sure.

    – Albert Einstein

  5. What a joke – thousands allowed at footy matches , no restrictions in shopping centres. As a fellow entertainer – our industry has been slammed by this pandemic.. we personally have lost 82% of our income but being a “non essential” industry like football is apparently we have been left to die.

  6. It’s obvious the police are not fans of our Soul Queen or her music. Aretha would be screaming from her grave “No R E S P E C T”. And the Godfather, Mr JB would be offering his support, ” boys, your gotta get down and funky”.

  7. And we won’t even mention the Bunnings crowds…. Everyday…. But they r buying necessary pot plants, seedling packets, hoses mulch, barbeques, hot rocks etc etc etc

    With crowds clearly visible in the carparks, the authorities just drive past.

    Oh silly me I forgot. They’re a multinational and they did make that PR statement at the beginning of lockdown that they will remain open for essential purposes and trade.

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